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Double helix: 50 years of DNA"This structure has novel features which are of considerable biological interest"
In April 1953, James Watson and Francis Crick wrote these words as part of the opening paragraph of a Letter to Nature. On the 50th anniversary celebrations of the publication of the structure of DNA, Nature presents this web focus, containing news, features and web specials celebrating the historical, scientific and cultural impacts of the discovery of the double helix.


DNA from Alberts to Zinder
Peter Sherwood asked 40 of the most prominent biologists in the world to draw their concept of what DNA means to them...

A blueprint for the genomic era Francis Collins and colleagues at the US National Institute for Human Genome Research describe their vision for the future of genomics research.

The image of the double helix on Voyager Who cares about the double helix?
Bruno Strasser argues that collective memory links the past to the future in science as well as history

Life, the movie
Maxine Singer reviews DNA: The Secret of Life by James D. Watson with Andrew Berry

Science in culture: Art after DNA
Lynn Gamwell illustrates how the double helix has inspired scientists and artists alike

Nature Science Update

Watson and Crick, photographed by Anthony Barrington Brown, 1953 Features, animation, galleries and more on the double helix at 50. This special package peers into DNA's future, puts Watson and Crick's work in context, and looks at biology beyond DNA.

James Watson 1993 The key figures along the road to the discovery of the double helix

Rosalind Franklin The double helix and the 'wronged heroine'
Brenda Maddox

Francis Crick (1993) The double helix: a personal view
Francis Crick
(April 1974)

Genetics and the making of Homo sapiens
Sean Carroll

Zoosemiotics, 1993, by Suzanne Anker The Mona Lisa of modern science
Martin Kemp
more free reviews
Click here for Nature's free archive, including all the significant papers from 1953, by Rosalind Franklin, Maurice Wilkins.

A Structure for Deoxyribose Nucleic Acid
Watson J. and Crick F
Nature 171, 737 (1953)

James Watson and Francis Crick's classic paper that first describes the double helical structure of DNA in April 1953.

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