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Durham University

Department of Classics and Ancient History


Publication details for Dr Edmund Thomas

Thomas, Edmund (2013). Chiasmus in Art and Text. Greece and Rome 60(01): 50-88.

Author(s) from Durham


Sixty years ago, on 25 April 1953, probably the most influential scientific article of the twentieth century appeared. Its uninviting title, ‘Molecular Structure of Nucleic Acids: A Structure for Deoxyribose Nucleic Acid’, concealed the revolutionary discovery by the molecular biologists James Watson and Francis Crick of the structure of what became known as ‘the molecule of life’. The ‘radically different structure’ that they proposed for the salt of deoxyribose nucleic acid (DNA) had ‘two helical chains each coiled round the same axis’. ‘Both chains’, they wrote, ‘follow right-handed helices, but owing to the dyad the sequences of the atoms in the two chains run in opposite directions.’ When Bruno J. Strasser asked in the same journal fifty years later ‘Who cares about the double helix?’, he answered that it marked ‘an age of (lost) innocence, when youth, intelligence and self-assurance were sufficient to make great discoveries in science’.