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Other titles in the Eminent Lives series:
Francis Crick: Discoverer of the Genetic Codeby Matt Ridley
Synopses & Reviews
Francis Crick, who died at the age of eighty-eight in 2004, will be bracketed with Galileo, Darwin, and Einstein as one of the great scientists of all time. Between 1953 and 1966 he made and led a revolution in biology by discovering, quite literally, the secret of life: the digital cipher at the heart of heredity that distinguishes living from non-living things: the genetic code. His own discoveries (though he always worked with one other partner and did much of his thinking in conversation) include not only the double helix but the whole mechanism of protein synthesis, the three-letter nature of the code, and much of the code itself.
Matt Ridley's biography traces Crick's life from middle-class mediocrity in the English Midlands, through a lackluster education and six years designing magnetic mines for the Royal Navy, to his leap into biology at the age of thirty-one. While at Cambridge, he suddenly began to display the unique visual imagination and intense tenacity of thought that would allow him to see the solutions to several great scientific conundrums; and to see them long before most biologists had even conceived of the problems. Having set out to determine what makes living creatures alive and having succeeded, he immigrated at age sixty to California and turned his attention to the second question that had fascinated him since his youth: What makes conscious creatures conscious? Time ran out before he could find the answer.
"Matt Ridley's Francis Crick perceptively and warmly recounts the extraordinary life of the twentieth century?s most important biologist." James D. Watson
"A briskly written essential for the DNA shelf...Ridley's fluency in the pertinent molecular biology is refined by his stylistic clarity." Booklist
"This is a wonderful book — deeply substantive, lucid, trenchant, and witty. It tells the biggest story in modern biology." David Quammen
"Lucid and riveting....Completely captivating, a lively and deeply intriguing account of one of biology's most imaginative scientists." Kay Redfield Jamison
Ridley traces Crick's life from middle-class mediocrity through his leap into biology at the age of 31 and his co-discovery of the double helix structure of DNA.
About the Author
Matt Ridley's books have been shortlisted for six literary awards, including the Los Angeles Times Book Prize (for Genome: The Autobiography of a Species in 23 Chapters). His most recent book, The Agile Gene: How Nature Turns on Nurture, won the award for the best science book published in 2003 from the National Academies of Science. He has been a scientist, a journalist, and a national newspaper columnist, and is the chairman of the International Centre for Life, in Newcastle, England. Matt Ridley is also a visiting professor at Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory in New York.
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