I had a weird sense of familiarity seeing a post from John Robb about The Dickerson Formula:
Richard Dickerson was my undergrad advisor while I was at Caltech. I was only passingly familiar with his conjecture, which in the intervening years has graduated to a “law”.
My father was a crystallographer, and in collaboration with Linus Pauling published the structure of Retinol, one of the chemicals known as Vitamin A, in 1956. Although they did not completely solve the 3D structure in the Dickerson sense, they determined the Amino Acid configurations and detailed configuration of the active sites, the first time this had been done for any organic molecule.
The techniques at their disposal were primitive by today's standards; the formulae had to be laboriously worked by hand, and much of the arithmetic to compute crystal reflections was done using slide rules. Pauling’s team went on to solve the detailed structure of Ascorbic Acid (Vitamin C) using the same techniques, which was the first molecule completely characterized in 3D, in 1961 (the first data point for the Dickerson conjecture).
It is a small world.