Happy Birthday, Double Helix

Forty years after their discovery of DNA's secret, Watson and Crick celebrate its impact on the world

It was a night to celebrate. Raising their glasses in the Eagle, a pub near the campus of Cambridge University in England, a euphoric Francis Crick, 36, and James Watson, 24, drank to what they had just accomplished. Over the hubbub in the crowded pub, Crick's voice boomed out, "We have discovered the secret of life!"

Indeed they had. The year was 1953, and that afternoon in the university's Cavendish Laboratory, the two brash overachievers had at last solved a puzzle that had for years stymied scientists seeking to understand how traits are passed from one generation to the next. By...

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