Life's Greatest Secret is the story of the discovery and cracking of the genetic code. This great scientific breakthrough has had far-reaching consequences for how we understand ourselves and our place in the natural world. The code forms the most striking proof of Darwin's hypothesis that all organisms are related, holds tremendous promise for improving human well-being and has transformed the way we think about life.
Matthew Cobb interweaves science, biography and anecdote in a book that mixes remarkable insights, theoretical dead-ends and ingenious experiments with the pace of a thriller. He describes cooperation and competition among some of the twentieth century's most outstanding and eccentric minds, moves between biology, physics and chemistry, and shows the part played by computing and cybernetics. The story spans the globe, from Cambridge MA to Cambridge UK, New York to Paris, and London to Moscow. It is both thrilling science and a fascinating story about how science is done.
Matthew Cobb is Professor of Zoology at the University of Manchester where his research focuses on the sense of smell, insect behaviour and the history of science. His books include The Egg & Sperm Race and acclaimed accounts of the French Resistance during WW2 and the liberation of Paris in 1944.
"It is to Cobb's considerably credit that he manages to provide such an authoritative but nevertheless thrilling narrative, while also establishing, on a more serious level, how the genetic code has made its impact on everyday life, 50 years since it's discovery. In short, this is a first-class read."
– Robin McKie, The Observer
"A fascinating reminder of just how hard-won are the seemingly obvious facts of modern biology [...] the cracking of the code of life is a great story, of which this is an accomplished telling."
– The Economist