When I first had the idea to start a blog to communicate some aspects of science that I not only find fascinating, but think other people also would, DNA seemed like the obvious place to start. After all, it is the ‘building block of life’, the simple double helix that makes you unique, as well as the subject of an innumerable amount of nauseating metaphors from sports stars, proclaiming that winning is “in my DNA”.
On a famous night in 1953, 84 years after the forgotten Friedrich Miescher had discovered DNA, although he named it nuclein, James Watson and Francis Crick exclaimed to the punters of The Eagle pub in Cambridge that they had ‘solved the secret of life’, which turned out to be a double helix, not 42. Yet how many people can tell you what this simple acronym actually stands for? And why is it a double helix, and why is this important? This article will explain the basics about what makes up DNA and why it is arranged in this elegant fashion, forming what is one of the most beautiful and well recognised molecules in biology.