Brooklyn Public Library


The Proof is in the Peas

Apr 23, 2008 9:24 AM | 0 comments

Fifty-five years ago this month, James Watson and Francis Crick unlocked the structure of the DNA molecule, and suddenly the words “double helix” were on everyone’s lips. But the twisting story of DNA didn’t end (or start) there. It turns out that cracking the code of life is one of the greatest detective stories in history, spanning three centuries: 

  • 1843 – 1868: Austrian monk Gregor Mendel’s experi- ments with garden peas lay the foundation of modern genetics.
  • 1910: Thomas Hunt Morgan’s experiments on fruit flies reveal a variety of genetic phenomena, transforming ninth grade biology classes forever.
  • 1953: Watson and Crick make their historic discovery. Read about their exciting race to beat other researchers to the prize in Double Helix.
  • 1996: Researchers in Scotland clone a sheep from the cell of an adult ewe. They name her “Dolly” (see photo).
  • April, 2003: After 13 years of international research, the complete human genome is revealed, giving us the ability to read nature’s blueprint for building a human being.

And the story goes on. Genetic science will continue to shape the way we live in the 21st century—from curing diseases to finding new energy sources. To learn more, check out BPL’s links on Genetics and Genomics, or stop by Central Library on Friday, April 25—also known as National DNA Day—for some fun activities like live webcasts and virtual laboratories; play DNA Jeopardy; even learn about careers in genetics.


In the meantime, eat your peas!


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