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The Double Helix: A Personal Account of the Discovery of the Structure of… (1969)

by James D. Watson

Other authors: See the other authors section.

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2,781394,275 (3.81)71
Since its publication in 1968, The Double Helix has given countless readers a rare and exciting look at one highly significant piece of scientific research-Watson and Crick's race to discover the molecular structure of DNA.
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» See also 71 mentions

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Puoi trovare questa recensione anche sul mio blog ---> La siepe di more

La doppia elica è il resoconto da parte di James Watson della scoperta della struttura a doppia elica del DNA. Si tratta di un libro parecchio controverso, che suscitò polemiche già prima della sua uscita.

Watson, infatti, è stato accusato di un po' di tutto, dall'essere un dilettante allo sbaraglio all'essere un misogino, dal dare un'idea sbagliata di ricerca scientifica all'essere un ragazzino arrogante. Nella mia edizione, c'è una scelta di recensioni a La doppia elica che danno un'idea del vespaio che scatenò questo libro.

L'idea che mi sono fatta di Watson, senza voler fare la psicologa fai-da-te, è di un uomo privo del filtro cervello-bocca. Io credo che, senza farsi troppi problemi su come sarebbero state accolte certe sue affermazioni, abbia semplicemente riferito ciò che fece e pensò durante la sua ricerca della struttura del DNA. Il che include anche pensieri piuttosto sgradevoli nei confronti di persone che ostacolarono (o almeno questa fu la sua impressione) il suo lavoro.

Si è detto molto della sfortunata Rosalind Franklin, mancato premio Nobel per i suoi contributi alla scoperta della struttura del DNA. Sua, infatti, è la famosa fotografia numero 51, nella quale era evidente la forma elicoidale del DNA: questa, passata all'insaputa della Franklin nelle mani di Watson e Crick, indirizzò i due ricercatori nella giusta direzione.

Il giovane Watson, però, non rimase favorevolmente colpito dalla Franklin, alla quale, ne La doppia elica, rivolge parole sgradevoli. È difficile non mostrarsi solidali nei confronti di Rosalind: già non facilitata da un carattere riservato, sarà stata costretta a diventare ancora più coriacea per sopravvivere in un ambiente dove il lavoro delle donne era spesso considerato di serie B.

Vorrei, però, spezzare una lancia in favore di Watson che, nell'epilogo, rivaluta in toto la figura della chimica e fisica inglese, chiarendo che la sua prima impressione era stata del tutto errata. A me non è sembrato un ripiego dell'ultimo minuto per rimediare in qualche modo a uno sgarbo fatto a una grande scienziata. Mi è sembrata una rettifica dovuta a una più approfondita conoscenza tra i due, che arrivarono a stimarsi profondamente, come dimostra il carteggio tra loro in merito a nuovi studi e ricerche. Quando si dice di non giudicare le persone dalle apparenze... ( )
  Baylee_Lasiepedimore | May 13, 2022 |
Witty and interesting account of the discovery of the structure of DNA. ( )
  jvgravy | Apr 14, 2021 |
One of the greatest scientists of all time (co-discoverer of the form of DNA, as well as subsequent contributions) provides his personal account of the process of discovery. This isn't really a historical account, told by a neutral third party and "objectively" true, but one person's viewpoint, shortly after the discovery (and supported by contemporary notes and artifacts) of his process. What's shocking (even though I know it is near-universal) is just how serendipitous the discovery was, and how critical seemingly meaningless personal and administrative decisions were to the process.

Another interesting aspect was the "friendly" state of the (then fallen from importance) UK scientific culture. He contrasts it to the then-recent Manhattan Project and physics of the time, where the true top-tier science was happening, with all artificial impediments forced to the side -- this was instead a field where not stepping on a colleague's toes who had done previous work but wouldn't take it to completion was a serious concern (and in the end, only a US research group run by Linus Pauling put fire underneath them to complete it; without Pauling it's possible DNA wouldn't have been fully characterized for another decade). ( )
  octal | Jan 1, 2021 |
Wonderful account of the discovery of DNA. Had almost the feel of a detective novel. It's a very easy, quick read. If you can find it, there is a video, "The Race for the Double Helix" aka "Life Story" starring Jeff Goldblum, Tim Pigott-Smith, and Juliet Stephenson as some of the principals, that does a pretty creditable job of presenting the story. Would love to see this remastered. The version I found online was free but about VHS quality. ( )
  tgraettinger | Aug 18, 2020 |
A very personal account by the author James Watson on how he and his colleague Francis Crick with the help of others beat Linus Pauling to win the coveted Nobel prize for identifying the structure of DNA. Not the most easy-to-understand book that I've read because you would need a background in chemistry to understand what's going on. Even Einstein's General Theory of Relativity was easier to comprehend. However you can definitely relate to the urgency and competitiveness between the scientists as they race to determine the structure of DNA, the basic building block of life. ( )
  pramodghuge | May 21, 2020 |
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» Add other authors (27 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Watson, James D.Authorprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Bragg, LawrenceForewordsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Fölsing, Albrechtsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Fritsch, WilmaTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Hokkala, OttoTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Judd, DorothyCover designersecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Lakmaker, FiekeTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Here I relate my version of how the structure of DNA was discovered.
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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Since its publication in 1968, The Double Helix has given countless readers a rare and exciting look at one highly significant piece of scientific research-Watson and Crick's race to discover the molecular structure of DNA.

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