James Watson: The Double Helix and Today's DNA Mysteries

Nobel laureate James Watson opens TED2005 with the frank and funny story of how he and his partner, Francis Crick, discovered the structure of DNA (and won the Noble Prize in Medicine in 1962 as a result).

The tale is full of colorful details: How Watson had planned to be an ornithologist until Schroedinger's book What Is Life? transformed him into a geneticist. The painful rejections he suffered along the way, first from Caltech and then from a certain girl. And finally, how the basic DNA model ultimately came together in just a few hours.

Watson finishes with one of the topics currently making him tick: the search for genetic bases for major illnesses.

For an interview of Watson, along with E.O. Wilson, discussing the legacy of Charles Darwin, check out this previous entry.
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