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The Secret of Life was a television series originally broadcast on PBS in 1993, and now available on the PBS website. The nonfiction book, The Secret of Life, was written by Joseph Levine and David Suzuki to accompany the television series.
The first episode of the series described the discovery of the double-helix structure of DNA in 1953 by Jim Watson and Francis Crick, although the series also gives credit to the team of Rosalind Franklin and Maurice Wilkins whose x-ray studies informed much of Crick and Watson's research. Crick and Watson received a Nobel Prize for their research in in 1962. The acclaimed 1968 book by James Watson, The Double Helix, tells the story of the discovery for a popular audience from Watson's perspective.
Although scientists before Watson and Crick had known that DNA residing in the center of the nuclei of human cells was important, and somehow connected with genetics, according to The Secret of Life, it was Watson and Crick, building on the x-ray diffraction studies of Franklin, who identified that DNA was the key to passing biological information from parents to children, serving as a sort of biological blueprint. Even more important and unique was their discovery of the double helix structure of DNA, which was the first step in understanding how DNA actually was structured and functioned, a discovery leading eventually to such feats as the sequencing of the human genome.
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