NEW YORK (CBSNewYork/AP) — Christie’s in New York will soon be auctioning off scientist Dr. Francis Crick’s letter to his 12-year-old son, saying he and a colleague had discovered something ”very beautiful” in the structure of DNA.

The letter will be auctioned off along with a set of hand-drawn diagrams.

When Crick wrote the letter on March 19, 1953, his son, Michael, was away at boarding school and was sick, according to published reports. Crick described to his son how he and James Watson found the copying mechanism “by which life comes from life.”

Michael Crick is now 72, and said Saturday that he immediately understood his father had made a breakthrough.

Francis Crick died at the age of 88 in 2004.

Half the auction’s proceeds will benefit the Salk Institute for Biological Studies in La Jolla, Calif.

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