[KINDLE] ❁ The Double Helix: A Personal Account of the Discovery of the Structure of DNA ❄ James D. Watson – Motyourdrive.co.uk



10 thoughts on “The Double Helix: A Personal Account of the Discovery of the Structure of DNA

  1. says:

    Do not view my rating on this book as an indictment of the science The story of the discovery of the structure of DNA is a fascinating one and makes for a compelling must read book The research behind it merited a Nobel Award But as any first year science student worth their salt can tell you it is a story mired in controversy I was enthralled by the continuous advancement of ideas that led to the double helical model that we all are familiar with today, but what is deeply unsettling about this account of those events is the almost casual misogyny that bleeds off practically every page that features Rosalind Franklin I don t think that one or two paragraphs in an epilogue, to attempt to paint her in a better light after defaming her character for the entirety of what has gone before it, can fully rectify the situation This book recounts the occurrences during the early 1950s from the viewpoint of James Watson so the question could be asked, does the time period and accepted societal viewpoints excuse his narration of the events This was a highly educated man An intelligent man Surely a man such as that should be held to higher standards and should have been a voice for equality and not one spreading misogynistic ideas If Franklin had lived it also would have highlighted the quandary over whether or not she would she have been awarded a Nobel prize too Undoubtedly her work was a key component in determining the structure of DNA However, a Nobel Prize can only be awarded to a maximum of three people Who would have lost out Would perhaps the medical prize have been awarded to Watson and Crick and the chemistry prize to Franklin and Wilkins Sadly we will never know Rosalind Franklin died from ovarian cancer before the awarding of the 1962 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine which was jointly awarded to Francis Harry Compton Crick, James Dewey Watson and Maurice Hugh Frederick Wilkins for their discoveries concerning the molecular structure of nucleic acids and its significance for information transfer in living material ref www.nobelprize.org Has history been too kind to Rosalind Franklin and placed too much gravitas on her scientific work Do we vilify James Watson and triumph Franklin as some sort of wronged feminist icon Would Watson and Crick have determined DNA structure as quickly without access to Franklin s research.I know what I believe.Five stars for the science But one star for the blatant misogyny which I cannot condoneA prior knowledge of DNA structure and protein synthesis is best to enjoy this book and at the very least some basic understanding of the various principles of chemical bonding.


  2. says:

    I ended up skimming this I really hope his recent book DNA The Secret of Life is considerably interesting and considerably less sexist It should be a fascinating story, but really it s mostly about James D Watson bouncing around between different supervisors and making sexist comments about Rosalind Franklin sorry, Rosy , who would ve been much better in his eyes if she d done something with her hair ETA in total fairness to those who have difficulty recognising hyperbole, it s worth noting that it probably isn t mostly about these things but it sure felt like it to me His later book is much, much better and to the point I can understand his fascination with DNA, but that s just about all I could get on board with And his writing style was just completely flat I do not honestly think all the details like how cold he was in Italy are at all relevant to the history of the discovery of the double helix.


  3. says:

    In the end, though, science is what matters scientists not a bit Steve Jones in, James D Watson s The Double HelixI gave it three stars last night DNA night, thanks Riku , but that just didn t seem right The structure wasn t stable, and I felt it probably deserved four stars one for A, one for T, one for G, one for C also one for Watson, one for Crick, one for Wilkins, and yes one for Franklin.Short, interesting, personal and important but also sexist, biased, according to Crick a violation of friendship Watson s attitudes towards Rosalind Franklin today seem so maligned that Watson eventually had to clarify that these were attitudes and view at the time of the discovery and not when he wrote the book Still, despite this major and very real issue, the book along with Watson, Crick Wilkins contributions cannot be undersold The discovery of DNA s structure changed biology and the book catapulted Watson Crick into that pantheon of fame that is seldom reached by even Nobel level scientists.


  4. says:

    Gossip, backstabbing, petty squabbles, arrogance, snobbishness, and misogyny take a front row seat in this personal account of how the double helix structure of DNA was discovered I expected from Watson s book And then there is the question about Rosalind Franklin s contribution to the discovery.While Watson does spend some time in the epilogue to credit Franklin for her work on the subject, it seems too little, too late He spends the entire book painting her as an uncooperative, dour, argumentative, bossy, frump with an acid smile in a career mostly reserved for unattractive women who have little chance of catching a husband He actually introduces her in the book in almost exactly those terms Oh, and there is little explanation of the structure of DNA itself It really is of an account of his thoughts on girls, stomach pains, and on the personal lives of people Watson encountered when working on the project.


  5. says:

    I made the mistake of reading this over a long period of time I see now that it really needs to be read in just a few sittings Also, a basic background in chemistry and physics none of which I have would be beneficial Thank goodness for Wikipedia This is the riveting story of the discovery of the secret of life, the helical structure of DNA Even though the Nobel award was given to both James D Watson and Francis Crick, the pendulum of recognition swings to Watson for this well known account of how it all came to be The path to discovering the structure of DNA is of course fascinating, but Watson s charming prose and thrilling narrative adds drama to the history Watson s writing style has that English charm, which is unique for an American I did, however, sense a bit of false humility in his account He often refers to his ignorance on certain scientific principles and his physical unattractiveness to perhaps gain sympathy for appropriating other s work Sometimes I daydreamed about discovering the secret of the gene, but not once did I have the faintest trace of a respectable idea I find that hard to believe Now, I, Douglas Feil, could honestly say, not once did I have the faintest trace of a respectable idea , but not Watson After all, he had several traces of ideas, and he strategically and sometimes underhandedly put himself in the middle of those on the verge of scientific discovery His theories were just wrong at first Thanks to the work of Rosalind Franklin, Linus Pauling, Maurice Wilkins, and a host of others, he used their faintest traces to build upon his own theory Discovering the structure of DNA was hard work, but much of it was timing Kudos to Watson and Crick for that, and I do believe they deserved the Nobel for their work I was disappointed in his treatment of Rosalind Franklin He almost unapologetically skewers Rosalind Franklin and her contributions to the discovery of DNA I say almost because he reserves the ending epilogue for a sort of apology Since my initial impressions of her, both scientific and personal were often wrong, I want to say something about her achievements He apologizes after her death and the apology was after the prior vilification If Watson really respected Franklin and appreciated her contributions, why not leave out the dirt Here s a book that properly defends Franklin Rosalind Franklin The Dark Lady of DNA.Overall, I found this account thrilling and vital Few scientific discoveries get a story like this Watson s writing is sure footed and perfect for describing his accomplishments.


  6. says:

    Shows how arrogant, misogynistic, and plain stupid the discoverers of DNA s double helix were Pros Emphasizes the importance of being able to access a free, open, creative, in some ways childish state of mind in order to allow for truly creative and defocalized states of mind that allow for scientific discovery Tunnel vision can be a scientist s worst nightmare.Cons Shows how childish, pretentious and socially inept the scientific establishment can be Also shows how a great scientist who suffered in silence due to being surrounded by sexist men in positions of authority was robbed of credit for providing the critical evidence necessary for finding and verifying the structure of DNA Rosalind Franklin, you will not be forgotten.


  7. says:

    I had to read this book for a science class in college I ve never forgiven that teacher.


  8. says:

    James D Watson became a controversial figure later in life, but this story recounts the seminal event in his life the 1953 discovery of the structure of DNA for which he received the 1962 Nobel Prize in Physiology with his collaborator Francis Crick and another, Maurice Wilkins Watson is an excellent storyteller, something which cannot be said of most scientists He successfully ensnares the reader into the drama of the moment, describing the personalities involved and making the science attainable to any reader The discovery of the double helix as the structure of DNA is perhaps the most remarkable event in biology after Darwin s grand theory of Evolution Watson and Crick devised the structure using tinker toy like models and corroborating their findings with x ray crystallographs which were surreptitiously taken from the laboratory of Rosalind Franklin Watson was a wunderkind American who acquired his PhD in zoology at the age of 23 Crick was a 35 year old boisterous gad about who was struggling for direction, having earned his BS in physics and unable to get the proper motivation for a PhD The unlikely duo hit it off and agreed that DNA biochemistry was the ticket to recognition At this time Linus Pauling at CalTech was transitioning his emphasis from proteins to DNA, setting the stage for a race to find the secret of the genetic code.Watson spins the yarn in dramatic fashion, writing in 1968, fifteen years after the discovery and 6 years after the Nobel He offers an apologia of sorts to Dr Franklin, who was taken aback by the use of her xrays without permission Watson admits that her gender had much to do with the raw treatment she received in the male dominated world of science Franklin did not receive a Nobel because she tragically died in 1958 from ovarian cancer at the age of 37, and the Prize is only awarded to living scientists.I cannot believe that I ve never read this book before It s relatively short and remarkably easy to read I highly recommend this to anyone who has any interest in science, medicine or the history of the 20th century.


  9. says:

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  10. says:

    I have no doubt that James Watson was a pretty competent scientist although the way he writes it, every thing seemed to favor him up to the discovery of the double helix structure He chose the field by a mix of chance and cunning, having eliminated other fields which would require effort, by his own words I suppose some people call it self disparaging, but somehow to me it reads like a humble brag and less likely to yield the chance to make a huge discovery If that s not cheating science, I don t know what is I have respect to great men and women who did science because they really loved digging up and facts about something they truly love, something that they can t stop thinking about Such as Feynmann and Einstein and Curie and yes, Rosalind Franklin, the brilliant and dedicated molecular biologist upon whose work Watson and Crick built theirs.I hate the way Watson portrays Franklin, the way he demonizes her into someone difficult to work with, when in fact he and Crick did not really respect her as an equal In some scenes that he recollects in the book it seems as if they resented her for getting the double helix images before them, because it means they needed the results of her research.Watson s writing is friendly and easy enough to read But the vibe of the whole book seems to be Oh the Nobel prize thing I didn t really put that much effort into it, I just happen to be a scientific genius and a visionary.


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