Reviews from 03/2015

Chance and Necessity

Book reviewed by Rob Mason on 25 March 2015

Chance and Necessity: Essay on the Natural Philosophy of Modern Biology is a 1970 book by Nobel Prize winner Jacques Monod, interpreting the processes of evolution to show that life is only the result of natural processes by "pure chance". The basic tenet of this book is that systems in nature with molecular biology, such as enzymatic biofeedback loops can be explained without having to invoke final causality.


What is Life? How Chemistry Becomes Biology

Book reviewed by Rob Mason on 22 March 2015

Background Detail. All living beings are made up of cells. Some of them are made up of only one cell and others have many cells. The adult human body is estimated to contain from between 35 to 75 trillion cells. Cells are too small to be seen without magnification and range in size from 1 to 100 micrometers  (0.0001 centimetre)  The study of cells, also called cell biology, would not have been possible without the invention of the microscope. Cells contain DNA (deoxyribonucleic acid) and RNA (ribonucleic acid), the genetic information necessary for directing cellular activities. Some cells carry oxygen to parts…Read

The Double Helix

Book reviewed by Rob Mason on 14 March 2015

DNA is the molecule of heredity, and to know its structure and method of reproduction enables science to know how generic directions are written and transmitted, how the forms of life are ordered from one generation to the next. The search for this molecular structure is the story told by James D. Watson in this book, published in 1968.  The public announcement of the discovery was made in April 1953.  In 1962 the Nobel Prize for Medicine and Physiology was awarded to Francis H.C. Crick, James D. Watson and Maurice H. F. Wilkins the three men…Read

The Secret of Life

reviewed by Rob Mason on 7 March 2015

Specifically, it was a race between two teams of young scientists working in Britain, as well as the esteemed chemist Linus Pauling, based in California. Already a Nobel laureate, Pauling may have been the favorite, but the discovery would ultimately be made by his British counterparts. Rosalind Franklin and Maurice Wilkins were trying to identify the structure by studying X-ray diffractions of the DNA molecule. But Jim Watson and Francis Crick studied a little bit of everything -- including, to the consternation of some, the work of their competitors. 

Produced/directed by David Glover, edited by…Read