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Acclaimed author Matt Ridley traces the colourful life of the man who discovered the structure of DNA, the building blocks of life.
Building on a biographical tradition that can be traced back to Aubrey's 'Brief Lives', Dr Johnson's 'Lives of the Poets' and Lytton Strachey's 'Eminent Victorians', this exciting and ground-breaking new series pairs great biographers, historians and novelists with iconic subjects, the writing bristling with original and distinctive points of view.
On 28 February 1953, Francis Crick walked into the Eagle pub in Cambridge and announced that he and his American colleague James Watson 'had found the secret of life'. In fact, they had indeed done so. That morning, Crick and Watson had worked out the structure of DNA (deoxyribonucleic acid). They had discovered its 'double helix' form, one which could replicate itself, confirming theories that it carried life's hereditary information.
Matt Ridley's life of Crick begins with his birth in 1916 at the home of a shoe factory owner, his early explosive experiments at primary school and time developing torpedoes in the Navy. After his seismic DNA discovery, which won him the Nobel Prize before he'd even gained a PhD, the scientist's later work was rarely uncontroversial. From California, he proposed that life began when micro-organisms from another planet were dropped here by a spaceship sent to Earth, and maintained that the 'human soul' was entirely explicable in terms of brain activity. Matt Ridley's entertaining account traces the colourful and entirely original work behind one of mankind's greatest discoveries and displays the life of a scientist considered of the very first rank.
Matt Ridley received his BA and D Phil at Oxford researching the evolution of behaviour. He has been science editor, Washington correspondent and American editor of The Economist. He has a regular column in the Daily Telegraph. He is also the author of The Red Queen (1993) and The Origins of Virtue (1996). Matt Ridley is the chairman of The International Centre for Life.
"In this excellent first biography of Francis Crick, who died in 2004, the suspense is terrific [...] authoritative [...] lucid [...] he captures Crick's audacity, brilliance and, not least, eloquence."
– Sunday Times
"From the pages of this biography Crick emerges as a powerful, dominating figure who ruled seminars and parties with equal ease, and Ridley, an experienced science writer, with a neat turn of phrase and a proper appreciation of brevity can be satisfied he has done justice to his subject. His book has pace, concisenness and wit [...] the book is a delight."
– The Observer
"Ridley explains his discoveries with wonderful clarity."
– Telegraph Review