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Look Inside Designs for Life

Designs for Life
Molecular Biology after World War II


  • Date Published: July 2011
  • availability: Available
  • format: Paperback
  • isbn: 9780521207744

£ 40.99

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About the Authors
  • Molecular biology has come to dominate our perceptions of life, health and disease. In the decades following World War II, the Medical Research Council Laboratory of Molecular Biology at Cambridge was a world-renowned centre of this emerging discipline. It was here that Crick and Watson, Kendrew and Perutz, Sanger and Brenner pursued their celebrated investigations. Soraya de Chadarevian's important study was the first to examine the creation and expansion of molecular biology through the prism of this remarkable institution. Firmly placing the history of the laboratory in its broader institutional and scientific context, she shows how molecular biology was built at the lab bench and through the wide circulation of tools, models and researchers, as well as in governmental committees, international exhibitions and television studios. Designs for Life is a major contribution both to the history of molecular biology, and to the history of science and technology in post-war Britain.

    • Deals with the scientific mobilisation during World War II and its legacies for the postwar scientific culture
    • Offers interpretations of well known historical events such as Crick & Watson's elucidation of the structure of DNA and the commercialisation of molecular biology
    • Contributes to our understanding of the molecular view of life
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    Reviews & endorsements

    Review of the hardback: 'De Chadarevian's historical account is recommended to all who are interested in the development of molecular biology.' Nature

    Review of the hardback: 'The author combines painstaking scholarship with superb narrative skills, and a gift for explaining technical matters accessibly … required reading for anyone interested in the politics, personalities and mechanics of science - from sixth formers to government ministers.' John Cornwell, The Sunday Times

    Review of the hardback: 'This is a scholarly work … but it is also very readable … the book is a 'must' for academics teaching molecular biology, and for anyone with even a passing interest in the history of what perhaps will be the most pervasive science of the 21st century.' Microbiology Today

    Review of the hardback: 'De Chadarevian meticulously traces the place of biophysics in the heady post-war expansion of British science …[A] composite portrait of the ways a new science is shaped by local circumstance.' The Times Higher Education Supplement

    Review of the hardback: '… the book provides a fresh perspective on well-trodden ground and should fuel the continuing controversy about how, where and why molecular biology first came into being.' BioEssays

    Review of the hardback: 'De Chadarevian is to be congratulated on the fascinating wealth of information which she has assembled about this classic period in the development of biological science in Britain.' Endeavour

    Review of the hardback: '… Designs for Life is a very useful addition to the history of molecular biology.' Ambix

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    Product details

    • Date Published: July 2011
    • format: Paperback
    • isbn: 9780521207744
    • length: 444 pages
    • dimensions: 244 x 170 x 23 mm
    • weight: 0.7kg
    • availability: Available
  • Table of Contents

    Part I. Postwar Reconstruction and Biophysics:
    1. World War II and the mobilisation of British scientists
    2. Reconstructing life
    3. Proteins, crystals and computers
    4. Televisual language
    Part II. Building Molecular Biology:
    5. Locating the double helix
    6. Disciplinary moves
    7. The origins of molecular biology revisited
    Part III. Bench Work and Politics:
    8. Laboratory cultures
    9. On the governmental agenda
    10. The end of an era

  • Author

    Soraya de Chadarevian, University of Cambridge

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