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At age eleven, with my sister, Elizabeth, and my father, James

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Genetics before Mendel: a homunculus, a preformed miniature person imagined to exist in the head of a sperm cell.

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Notoriously camera-shy T. H. Morgan was photographed surreptitiously while at work in the fly room at Columbia.

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A nineteenth-century exaggerated view of a Nama woman.

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Eugenics as it was perceived during the first part of the twentieth century: an opportunity for humans to control their own evolutionary destiny.

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The staff of the Eugenics Record Office, pictured with members of the Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory. Davenport, seated in the very center, hired personnel on the basis of his belief that women were genetically suited to the task of gathering pedigree data. Sound genetics: Davenport’s pedigree showing how albinism is inherited

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“Large family” winner, Fitter Families Contest, Texas State Fair (1925)

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Scientific racism: social inadequacy in the United States analyzed by national group (1922). “Social inadequacy” is used here by Harry Laughlin as an umbrella term for a host of sins ranging from feeblemindedness to tuberculosis. Laughlin computed an institutional “quota” for each group on the basis of the proportion of that group in the U.S. population as a whole. Shown, as a percentage, is the number of institutionalized individuals from a particular group divided by the group’s quota. Groups scoring over 100 percent are overrepresented in institutions

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The physicist Erwin Schrödinger, whose book What Is Life? turned me on to the gene

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A view through the microscope of blood cells treated with a chemical that stains DNA. In order to maximize their oxygen-transporting capacity, red blood cells have no nucleus and therefore no DNA. But white blood cells, which patrol the bloodstream in search of intruders, have a nucleus containing chromosomes.

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Maurice Wilkins in his lab at King’s College London.

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Lawrence Bragg (left) with Linus Pauling, who is carrying a model of the α-helix.

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Francis Crick with the Cavendish X-ray tube.

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Rosalind Franklin on one of the mountain hiking vacations she loved.

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X-ray photos of the A and B forms of DNA from, respectively, Maurice Wilkins and Rosalind Franklin. The differences in molecular structure are caused by differences in the amount of water associated with each DNA molecule.

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Five weeks before Crick and I published the double-helix model in Nature, Francis previewed our discovery in a handwritten letter (excerpts of which are shown here) to his twelve-year-old son, Michael; the letter was auctioned in 2013 for a world-record price of $5.3 million.

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Short and sweet: our Nature paper announcing the discovery. The same issue also carried longer articles by Rosalind Franklin and Maurice Wilkins.

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Unveiling the double helix: my lecture at Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory, June 1953.

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Arthur Kornberg at the time of winning his Nobel Prize.

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Matt Meselson beside an ultra-centrifuge, the hardware at the heart of “the most beautiful experiment in biology”.

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Passion play: Nicole Kidman garnered rave reviews starring as Rosalind Franklin in the 2015 West End theatrical production of Anna Ziegler’s Photograph 51. Here, Kidman holds up the beautiful X-ray image of the same name.

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The RNA Tie Club: George Gamow’s characteristic scrawl in a letter; the man himself; a 1955 club meeting, with ties in evidence (Francis Crick, Alex Rich, Leslie Orgel, and me)

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Francis Crick, Alex Rich, Leslie Orgel, and me

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Francis Crick, Alex Rich, Leslie Orgel, and me

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François Jacob, Jacques Monod, and André Lwoff.

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Harry Noller grappling with the ribosome.

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A plasmid as viewed by an electron microscope

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Herb Boyer and Stanley Cohen, the world’s first genetic engineers

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The gut microbe E. coli. Should you care to look, about 10 million of these can be found in every gram of human feces.

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Paul Berg with his viral Honda

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Debating DNA: Maxine Singer, Norton Zinder, Sydney Brenner, and Paul Berg grapple with the issues during the Asilomar conference.

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Mark Ptashne - Tom Maniatis - Mayor Vellucci

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Wally Gilbert (top) and Fred Sanger, sequence kings

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Phil Leder with his “Harvard” OncoMouse

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Jeremy Rifkin, professional naysayer: You name it, he has tried to stop it.

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