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DNA: The Secret of Life by Watson, James D., Berry, Andrew (2004) Paperback Paperback – August 17, 2004
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DNA: The Secret of Life by Watson, James D., Berry, Andrew [Knopf, 2004] (Pap...
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And thank you to the 3rd party bookseller Aberg books - the book is out of print but was in perfect new condition.
Watson and Crick beat Chemistry's superstar, Linius Pauling, in the race to decipher DNA's chemical structure in 1953. Since then, science has made amazing progress in broading and applying that knowledge. Watson tells that story in this book. He, himself, played very important roles in pushing the scientific envelope, including his leadership of the Human Genome Project.
In the last second, our bodies each produced millions of new cells. Watson explains how this process works, starting with the reading of the DNA code and the activities of messenger and transfer RNA in assembling a protein. We humans, were not content to merely understand this process. We audaciously put those tiny factories to work for us. We learned how to splice DNA at a point if our choosing. We learned how to insert a gene of our choosing into a bacteria's DNA. We put the cell's factories to work for us making medical products. If we only had a minute sample of DNA, we learned how to make millions of copies of it. In short, we created the biotechnology industry.
Watson tells how Amgen and Genentech raced to be first to produce human insulin by recombinant DNA processing. It was another race against time.
He tells about the Human Genome Project (HGP), which was perhaps more ambitious than putting a man on the moon. Consider that our DNA is billions of letters long. Enormous breakthrough were made in the chemical analysis techniques. The sequencing rate was made faster and faster by brilliant breakthroughs. The HGP, once thought to be impossible, was finished ahead of schedule.
DNA technology will replace many of today's medical techniques in the years ahead. It allows us to understand the enemy and to attack it in a precise manner. The cure of cancers and AIDS will come from DNA technology. Heart disease too. Watson explains the hows and whys of future medical advances.
Gene therapy is in its infancy. Imagine having all the cells in your body made more perfect.
Tracing human origins, finding the ancestral paths of living things, fingerprinting with DNA, forecasting the health of a human embryo, and other topics are also covered in this book.
James Watson: He be the man!!
Reviewed by Ralph D. Hermansen, 12-01-07
I can appreciate the difficulty of setting the scope for a subject that can expand in so many directions, but the focus of several chapters still seem less than completely coherent. The result is that those chapters felt out of place... but on the other hand they were interesting enough in themselves.
Oddly, Watson never tried to support his thesis that DNA is the secret of life, rather than one of the products of life.
On a subject as rapidly changing as the study of DNA, individual years make a difference in the content. The book I bought was a later edition than the one the local library had and it was noticeably updated.
Most recent customer reviews
James Watson, co-founder of the structure of the DNA molecule, begins with a discussion of the origins of genetics.Read more