Friday, September 15, 2006

Review of Watson's The Double Helix

By now everyone really knows the story of the discovery of DNA, and this book is not really all that interesting. It is Watson's retelling of the story of how he and Crick uncovered the molecular structure of the double helix, and what it was like to realize that A's G's C's and T's were paired the way they are.

There is a bit of excitement conveyed in the thrill of the discovery, but I can't help but not be that excited. When one reads how sociologists of science see this this as one of the most important books of their discipline, one cannot but loose respect for those sociologists of science.

This book is clearly written for science-phobes, and makes no attempt whatsoever to convey actual scientific information. Nor do you get a feel for the scientific methodology.

Good scientists often write popular books to explain their discoveries to the public. This is not one of them. This explains the lab gossip that was going on while the real sicence was being done.

Neither is the book sexy, as it is often hyped. Sure, if you find it odd or risque that a science student in his mid-20's thinks about girls a lot, then this will be an odd and risque book. But even by the standards of its time, it was pretty demure. Feynman really knew how to embellish an autobiography. Watson. . . not so much.

Unless you are really bord, you can skip this book, and your life will be no less empty.


Chief Scientist said...

I find it odd and risque if scientists aren't chasing women. The guys I have known are the biggest hound dogs ever. Porn stars tell them to slow down. Scientists are friggin' sex-fueled, that's all I am saying.

Erica said...

I'm glad I read this as I didn't get as far as the foreward during Rosh Hashana.

I opted for something by Michener instead.