th February marks the 70th anniversary of – in my view – the most important day in the entire history of science. On a fine Saturday morning with crocuses in flower along the Backs in Cambridge, two men saw something surprising and beautiful.
The double helix structure of DNA instantly revealed why living things were different: a molecule carries self-copying messages from the past to the future, bearing instructions written in a four-letter alphabet about how to synthesise living bodies from food.
In The Eagle pub that lunchtime, Francis Crick and James Watson announced to startled fellow drinkers that they had discovered the secret of life.That all living creatures, from microbes to ministers, turn out to share the same universal genetic cipher is why this breakthrough was more momentous as well as more unexpected than any other discovery I can think of. (Newton’s gravity?Read more on rationaloptimist.com