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Free download : The Genomics Age How DNA Technology Is Transforming the Way We Live and Who We Are – Gina Smith
IT IS A GREATER achievement than the discovery of vaccines and antibiotics combined. And it is no exaggeration to say that, as a result of it, the world of human beings will never be the same.
I am talking, of course, about the discovery of the DNA double helix by an American and a Brit, James Watson and Francis Crick, in 1953. On a chilly February day, something profound happened.
It barely got a mention in the papers that whole year. But Watson and Crick, they knew. “We found it!” Crick shouted upon bursting into The Eagle, an off-campus pub close to their University of Cambridge lab. “We have found the secret of life!”
In April 2003, fully fifty years later, history was made again. A group of scientists announced they had taken Watson and Crick’s great insight to yet another level. They published an enormous list—a list of the chemicals that make up all the genes in the DNA
BEFORE WE BEGIN. . .
of the human race. In other words, they published the sequence of
the human genome. And now the life-changing work can begin.
Knowing what a human being is made of is the first step toward knowing how to fix that human being when something goes wrong, or how to prevent something from going wrong in the first place.
Eventually, it might even mean knowing how to build a better human being altogether. All of this is important, critical, even. But something also happened when this knowledge came to light. We humans—who are so happy with ourselves and our ability to reason, to investigate, to manipulate nature—became the first beings on the planet to take a look at ourselves at the most primary level, discovering the language in which our very existence is written.