Robert Olby’s widely praised biography of Francis Crick was one of the items in a time capsule that was recently buried in the foundation of The Francis Crick Institute, a £660,000,000 biomedical research center under construction in Central London that is scheduled to open in 2015.

The brass capsule, buried by Crick’s daughter Gabrielle, also included letters from scientists, photographs, artwork, and other memorabilia representing Crick, the Institute, its ambitions and locale.  “In this time capsule, we are making clear our aspirations for the Institute to future generations,” said Sir Paul Nurse, the Director and Chief Executive of the Institute, during the ceremony.

Most of Crick’s long life in science was spent on two fundamental problems in biology: how molecules create life and how the brain creates consciousness. To both, he brought his initial training in physics, a discipline judged to have achieved remarkable progress in the 20th century, endowing him confidence (or immodesty, in the eyes of at least one observer) that problems in biology were similarly susceptible to solution. Echoing Crick’s optimism, Sir Paul said that by bringing together many of the world’s best scientists and clinicians, the Institute aims to improve lives and help deliver the innovations that will bring long-lasting benefits to the economy and people’s health.

Between 1947 and 1977 in Cambridge, Crick became molecular biology’s leading theorist, laying foundations for the elucidation of the triplet code, an understanding of the flow of genetic information, and the machinery for synthesis of proteins.  His subsequent years in California until his death in 2004 were devoted to studies of consciousness.  Although the problem proved unyielding and this period of his life failed to provide the scientific success he hoped for, Crick lived long enough to see the emergence of a new generation of scientists with the confidence, and the research tools, to ask questions about the nature of mind that had previously been the terrain of philosophy and the humanities.  He would have greatly enjoyed – and would no doubt have elegantly contributed to – the recent sparring on the relationship between neuroscience and the humanities in the opinion pages of The New York Times. In those articles, and several of the well-informed comments that followed, Crick’s presence at the foundation can be seen once again.