peteg's blog

Matthew Cobb: Life's Greatest Secret: The Race to Crack the Genetic Code.

/noise/books | Link

Kindle. On the strength of H. Allen Orr's review at the New York Review of Books. I had hoped to learn more about genetics than is on offer here, and the import of various things like Watson and Crick's discovery of the (geometrical) structure of DNA; suffice it to say that even once that is somewhat settled, it sounds like it's not much help in figuring out the genetic code itself. I didn't find any of the experiments particularly beautiful (far too much manual labour, radioactivity and inconclusivity), and the text gets quite repetitious in its put downs of cybernetics and information theory. Cobb is too narrow about the latter; the field includes things like error-correcting codes, which DNA presumably addresses somehow. Shannon's model is but a starting point.