Henry Gee

1953 and All That

Life’s Greatest Secret: The Race to Crack the Genetic Code

By Matthew Cobb

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In A Bedside Nature (1996), a potpourri of clippings from the journal Nature from its founding in 1869, editor Walter Gratzer decided not to continue to the present day but to stop in 1953, the year that saw the publication of the structure of DNA. Hindsight will say that the paper on DNA’s structure by Francis Crick and James D Watson changed everything, sundering the past and the present. Gratzer called 1953 the ‘End of History’, in conscious homage to that affectionate spoof history textbook 1066 and All That by W C Sellar and R J Yeatman, in which that appellation was given to the year 1914.

The year you use to mark the End of History, especially when capitalised,

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