Unravelling the Double Helix
DNA. The double helix; the blueprint of life; and, during the early 1950s, a baffling enigma that could win a Nobel Prize. Everyone knows that James Watson and Francis Crick discovered the double helix. In fact, they clicked into place the last piece of a huge jigsaw puzzle that other researchers had assembled over decades. Researchers like Maurice Wilkins (the ‘Third Man of DNA’) and Rosalind Franklin, famously demonised by Watson. Not forgetting the ‘lost heroes’ who fought to prove that DNA is the stuff of genes, only to be airbrushed out of history.
In Unravelling the Double Helix, Professor Gareth Williams sets the record straight. He tells the story of DNA in the round, from its discovery in pus-soaked bandages in 1868 to the aftermath of Watson’s best-seller The Double Helix a century later. You don’t need to be a scientist to enjoy this book. It’s a page-turner that unfolds like a detective story, with suspense, false leads and treachery, and a fabulous cast of noble heroes and back-stabbing villains. But beware: some of the science is dreadful, and the heroes and villains may not be the ones you expect.
Gareth Williams, the former dean of medicine at Bristol University, has woven a truly superb narrative from short biographies of all the scientists who contributed to, and in some cases just missed out on, the epochal discovery that the secret of life is a digital linear code written on DNA ... By choosing to fill in the gaps in conventional accounts, Williams has done a good job of telling the whole story of science's greatest discovery. He has done it with fluency and a real feel for narrative -- Matt Ridley * The Times * This is a FANTASTIC book -- Professor Alice Roberts via Twitter (@theAliceRoberts) ...a riveting good read...Not only did I find it hard to put down, I'm now moved to seek out other science histories by Williams. Highly recommended. * CHEMISTRY WORLD *
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