first installment of this excellent documentary series on cell biology, it may have taken us a while to get a firm understanding of what cells are and how they work, but once scientists got going, there would be no stopping them.
Still, important questions remained. For instance, how is it that a bunch of molecules somehow 'know' to self-assemble into specialized cells? And how do cells 'know' what functions to perform and when? To unravel these and other mysteries, scientists decided to try to understand the chemistry of life as it played out in the nuclei of cells, and in the process they came to discover the amazing story of how information is transferred during the process of cell division.
Most astonishingly of all, the study of the chemistry of life would produce discoveries that would provide powerful support for Charles Darwin's theory of evolution and his prediction of common ancestry.
If you want more on the story of the discovery of the structure of DNA, why not hear from James Watson himself?
And for more on the idea of self-assembly, check out Jim Al-Khalili's documentary The Secret Life of Chaos.