There is probably no one who has a deeper understanding of life's biochemical basis than Francis Crick (b. 1916). In 1962 he jointly won the Nobel Prize (with James D. Watson and Maurice H.F. Wilkins) in physiology/medicine for breakthrough studies on the molecular structure of deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA). In 1966 he published this collection of popular lectures in which he explained the importance of this discovery in layman's terms, emphasizing its wide-reaching implications.
Crick begins with a critique of vitalism, the notion that an intangible life force beyond the grasp of biology distinguishes living organisms from inanimate things. In his second lecture he explores the borderline between the organic and inorganic, presenting an elegantly clear description of DNA's basic structure and function in relation to RNA and myriad enzymes.
In his third lecture Crick anticipates events and trends that have in fact come to pass in the past four decades, including the increasing use of computer technology and robotics in mind-brain research, explorations into right-side versus left-side uses of the brain, and controversies surrounding the existence of the soul.
OF MOLECULES AND MEN is fascinating not only for its historical significance but for its continued relevance to ongoing discussions of many crucially important issues in life science.
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