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About | Classical Genetics | Timelines | What's New | What's Hot

About | Classical Genetics | Timelines | What's New | What's Hot


The Electronic Scholarly Publishing Project: Providing access to classic scientific papers and other scholarly materials, since 1993. More About:  ESP | OUR CONTENT | THIS WEBSITE | WHAT'S NEW | WHAT'S HOT

ESP Timelines

Comparative Timelines

The ESP Timeline (one of the site's most popular features) has been completely updated to allow the user to select (using the timeline controls above each column) different topics for the left and right sides of the display.


New Left Column

New Left Column



New Right Column

New Right Column

At a Cold Spring Harbor Symposium, Ernst Mayr argues that all hominid specimens so far found should be categorized in the genus Homo: H. transvaalensis, H. erectus, and H. sapiens.

E. Chargaff lays the foundations for nucleic acid structural studies by his analytical work. He demonstrates for DNA that the numbers of adenine and thymine groups are always equal and so are the numbers of guanine and cytosine groups. These findings later suggest to Watson and Crick that DNA consists of two polynucleotide strands joined by hydrogen bonding between A and T and between G and C.

E. M. Lederberg discovers lambda, the first viral episome of E. coli.


(no entry for this year)

Barbara McClintock publishes a paper describing "jumping" genes that can move around within an organism's genome.


(no entry for this year)

A. D. Hershey and M. Chase demonstrate that the DNA of phage enters the host, whereas most of the protein remains behind.

F. Sanger and his colleagues work out the complete amino acid sequence for the protein hormone insulin, and show that it contains two polypeptide chains held together by disulfide bridges.

J. Lederberg and E. M. Lederberg invent the replica plating technique.

N. D. Zinder and J. Lederberg describe transduction in Salmonella.


Bwana Devil, a low-budget polarized 3-D film, premieres in late November and starts a brief 3-D craze that begins in earnest in 1953 and fades away during 1954.

image image J. D. Watson and F. H. C. Crick propose a model for DNA comprised of two helically intertwined chains tied together by hydrogen bonds between the purines and pyrimidines.

W. Hayes discovers polarized behavior in bacterial recombinations. He isolates the Hfr H strain of E. coli and shows that certain genes are readily transferred from Hfr to F- bacteria, whereas others are not.

Piltdown Man is determined to be a hoax: the jaw of an ape and a human skull.


(no entry for this year)

Elso Barghoorn and Stanley Tyler report the discovery of bacterial cells in Canadian rock formations that are nearly 2 billion years old.

Philip Abelson and his team detect amino acids in fish that are over 300 million years old.


Leica M Introduced

image S. Benzer works out the fine structure of the rII region of phage T4 of E. coli, and coins the terms CISTRON,RECON, and MUTON.

image Professional pipefitter and amateur paleontologist Francis Tully finds an enigmatic fossil near Morris, Illinois. Dating from about 300 million years ago, the fossil will be formally named Tullimonstrum gregarium and nicknamed the Tully monster. Although it will defy classification for decades, it will nevertheless be named the state fossil of Illinois.


(no entry for this year)

F. Jacob and E. L. Wollman are able experimentally to interrupt the mating process in E. coli and show that a piece of DNA is inserted from the donor bacterium into the recipient.

Fifteen-year-old English schoolgirl Tina Negus finds a specimen of the fossil species that will later be named Charnia masoni, from the geologic period that will later be named the Ediacaran. Unfortunately, Negus can't convince her geography teacher that the fossil she has found is Precambrian and gives up, leaving the fossil to be extracted by local schoolboy Roger Mason the next year.

Keith Runcorn publishes a paper describing polar wandering based on paleomagnetic studies of Europe and North America. He suggests continental drift, but his paper attracts little attention.

Paleontologist M. W. de Laubenfels publishes a paper suggesting that the dinosaurs were driven to extinction by a meteorite impact. His paper will not be taken seriously, but this hypothesis will be presented again in 1980 with more compelling evidence.

Brian Logan and fellow geologists find living stromatolites in Shark Bay, Australia. The find is somewhat surprising as stromatolites have no defenses against mouth-bearing organisms and have probably been relatively rare since the Cambrian Period.


(no entry for this year)

Francis Crick proposes the "central dogma" of genetic information transfer: DNA specifies RNA and RNA specifies cell proteins.

V. M. Ingram reports that normal and sickle-cell hemoglobin differ by a single amino acid substitution.


First Asahi Pentax SLR introduced.

First digital computer acquisition of scanned photographs, by Russell Kirsch et al. at the U.S. National Bureau of Standards (now the NIST).

Frederick Sanger receives a Nobel Prize in Chemistry for his work on the structure of proteins, especially that of insulin.

George W. Beadle, Edward L. Tatum, and Joshua Lederberg share a Nobel Prize in Medicine for Beadle and Tatum's discovery that genes act by regulating definite chemical events, and for Lederberg's discoveries concerning genetic recombination and the organization of the genetic material of bacteria.

image F. H. C. Crick suggests that during protein formation the amino acid is carried to the template by an adaptor molecule containing nucleotides and that the adaptor is the part that actually fits on the RNA template. Crick thus predicts the discovery of transfer RNA.

F. Jacob and E. L. Wollman demonstrate that the single linkage group of E. coli is circular and suggest that the different linkage groups found in different Hfr strains result from the insertion at different points of a factor in the circular linkage group that determines the rupture of the circle.

M. Meselson and F. W. Stahl use the density gradient equilibrium centrifugation technique to demonstrate the semiconservative distribution of density label during DNA replication in E. coli.


(no entry for this year)

Severo Ochoa and Arthur Kornberg share a Nobel Prize in Medicine for their discovery of the mechanisms in the biological synthesis of ribonucleic acid and deoxiribonucleic acid.

J. Lejeune, M. Gautier, and R. Turpin show that Down syndrome is a chromosomal aberration involving trisomy of a small telocentric chromosome.

R. L. Sinsheimer demonstrates that bacteriophage phiX174 of E. coli contains a single-stranded DNA molecule.

Mary Leakey finds hominid skull belonging to Paranthropus boisei.


AGFA introduces the first fully automatic camera, the Optima.

Nikon F introduced.

ESP Quick Facts

ESP Origins

In the early 1990's, Robert Robbins was a faculty member at Johns Hopkins, where he directed the informatics core of GDB — the human gene-mapping database of the international human genome project. To share papers with colleagues around the world, he set up a small paper-sharing section on his personal web page. This small project evolved into The Electronic Scholarly Publishing Project.

ESP Support

In 1995, Robbins became the VP/IT of the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center in Seattle, WA. Soon after arriving in Seattle, Robbins secured funding, through the ELSI component of the US Human Genome Project, to create the original ESP.ORG web site, with the formal goal of providing free, world-wide access to the literature of classical genetics.

ESP Rationale

Although the methods of molecular biology can seem almost magical to the uninitiated, the original techniques of classical genetics are readily appreciated by one and all: cross individuals that differ in some inherited trait, collect all of the progeny, score their attributes, and propose mechanisms to explain the patterns of inheritance observed.

ESP Goal

In reading the early works of classical genetics, one is drawn, almost inexorably, into ever more complex models, until molecular explanations begin to seem both necessary and natural. At that point, the tools for understanding genome research are at hand. Assisting readers reach this point was the original goal of The Electronic Scholarly Publishing Project.

ESP Usage

Usage of the site grew rapidly and has remained high. Faculty began to use the site for their assigned readings. Other on-line publishers, ranging from The New York Times to Nature referenced ESP materials in their own publications. Nobel laureates (e.g., Joshua Lederberg) regularly used the site and even wrote to suggest changes and improvements.

ESP Content

When the site began, no journals were making their early content available in digital format. As a result, ESP was obliged to digitize classic literature before it could be made available. For many important papers — such as Mendel's original paper or the first genetic map — ESP had to produce entirely new typeset versions of the works, if they were to be available in a high-quality format.

ESP Help

Early support from the DOE component of the Human Genome Project was critically important for getting the ESP project on a firm foundation. Since that funding ended (nearly 20 years ago), the project has been operated as a purely volunteer effort. Anyone wishing to assist in these efforts should send an email to Robbins.

ESP Plans

With the development of methods for adding typeset side notes to PDF files, the ESP project now plans to add annotated versions of some classical papers to its holdings. We also plan to add new reference and pedagogical material. We have already started providing regularly updated, comprehensive bibliographies to the ESP.ORG site.



The new, dynamic Timeline from the Electronic Scholarly Publishing Project gives users more control over the timeline display.

We seek your suggestions for timeline content, both for individual events and for entire subjects.

To submit a correction or a recommendation or to propose new Timeline content (or to volunteer as a Timeline Editor), click HERE.

The Electronic Scholarly Publishing Project needs help: with acquiring content, with writing, with editing, with graphic production, and with financial support.

CLICK HERE to see what ESP needs most.

ESP Picks from Around the Web (updated 06 MAR 2017 )