The Double Helix

A review of The Double Helix by Rob Mason

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 who had worked together, merging data from chemistry, physics and biology to solve the structure of DNA.  The interplay of ideas, temperaments and circumstances was an especially fortuitous one since the result was something too pretty not to be true.

"DNA is a code, a means of storing biological data, in the form of genes. The code was systematically cracked in the 1960s, revealing that life is breathtakingly conservative. If DNA is an alphabet, then the words it spells out are amino acids, the building blocks of proteins. And yet only 20 amino acids are encoded by DNA in all life forms. The same alphabet, the same encryption, the same lexicon are applied in every bacterium or blue whale, in you, a sunflower and a mushroom." Adam Rutherford

What is DNA and How Does it Work?

The Story of YOU

A genome is an organism's complete set of DNA, including all of its genes. Each genome contains all of the information needed to build and maintain that organism. In humans, a copy of the entire genome—more than 3 billion DNA base pairs—is contained in all cells that have a nucleus.

The Human genome