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The Secret Of Life: The History, Discovery & Significance of DNA Structure

Date(s): 4 December 2023

Time: 2.30pm

Cost: £3

Booking Link:

Copy Of An Evening With 1

Join us for this hour long afternoon talk that explores the history, significance and discovery of DNA structure, on its 70th anniversary with Surgeons Hall Museums Senior Research Fellow Professor Ken Donaldson.

Seventy years ago, in April 1953, a paper appeared in Nature science journal by the American James Watson and the Englishman Francis Crick describing the structure of DNA, the chemical of which genes are made. Although DNA had been first found 100 years before that, the helical structure and the base pairings described in Crick and Watson’s structure was hailed as ‘the secret of life’ and it opened up an understanding of genetics that was so profound that it still dominates biology today. The DNA double helix they describe in that paper has become one of the most iconic images of all time and the idea of DNA has entered the public imagination. People and organisations talk about a trait being ‘in our DNA’ although often this has little scientific meaning in the strict terms of biology.

In the year of the 70th birthday of the discovery of the double helix, this talk sets out to describe DNA, what its role is, and how it was discovered.

This talk will explore what exactly DNA is and why the double helical structure is so fundamental to its functions. We will discuss the understanding of heredity before DNA is described and the run-up to Crick and Watson’s breakthrough paper.

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