BooksMolecular Biology

In the Beginning Was the Word

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Science  16 Feb 2001:
Vol. 291, Issue 5507, pp. 1263-1264
DOI: 10.1126/science.1057124

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Who Wrote the Book of Life? A History of the Genetic Code. Lily E. Kay. Stanford University Press, Stanford, CA 2000. 470 pp. $60, £45. ISBN 0-8047-3384-8. Paper, $24.95, £17.95. ISBN 0-8047-3417-8.

On the basis of a careful examination of archives, publications, and interviews, Kay presents a history of the research between 1953 and 1970 that explained how DNA sequences specify the amino acid sequences that form proteins. She pays particular attention to the influence of information theory on this work, and concludes that, strictly speaking, "the genetic code is not a code, DNA is not a language, and the genome is not an information system."

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