Peter Lawrence

The Secret of Life

Avoid Boring People: Lessons from a Life in Science

By

Oxford University Press 368pp £ order from our bookshop

Imagine a research scientist at the age of twenty-four, James (Jim) D Watson. At that age, most of his peers would be checking out which lab to begin their PhD studies in; Watson, however, had not only finished his PhD but had already shared the greatest discovery in biology of the twentieth century. In Life Story, the superb 1987 TV docudrama, the quest for the structure of DNA climaxes with a triumph, the revelation of the double helix of DNA. Afterwards, Watson is with his sister on a bridge over the river Cam. She asks him why he is so quiet. ‘I’m 24 years old,’ he says. ‘Nothing’ll ever come close again.’ Life Story was right about that. 

Sign Up to our newsletter

Receive free articles, highlights from the archive, news, details of prizes, and much more.

Follow Literary Review on Twitter

  • Last Tweets

    • 'What in other hands could have been a dry, pedantic account of Christianity’s birth and evolution becomes in Holla… ,
    • RT : One of my favourite literary magazines is celebrating 40 years this year. Here is the September edition of… ,
    • 'Now that the Thames is too fast-flowing to freeze, its spirit’s devotees ... have found other climes for their pri… ,
    • 'Bythell glowers past his till at a world in slow free fall.' on the travails of a second-hand book… ,
    • 'It is a scent of animal wrath, of instinctive need, of brutal life which affects the cultured nostrils of our civi… ,
    • 'The day produced countless stories of chance, of people taking one route or another without realising that the dec… ,
    • In this month's 'Silenced Voices', looks at the case of Azimjon Askarov, the journalist and human rights… ,