Science: The Secrets of the Cell

No man-made piece of machinery is nearly so complex. Capable of countless chemical reactions, it can fend off attackers, reproduce itself and perform all the other activities that characterize life. In laboratories around the world, thousands of researchers are busily trying to understand—and in some cases, duplicate—the cell's vital chemistry. Last week two teams of scientists made significant advances toward those goals.

Endless Variety. At the University of Wisconsin, a group headed by a distinguished Indian-born molecular biologist, Har Gobind Khorana. 47, reported that it had achieved the first artificial synthesis of a gene—the basic unit of heredity in the nuclei of...

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