Christian Long

James Watson: How He Discovered DNA

In TED Talks on April 18, 2010 at 10:24 pm

Reflection by RACHEL L.

Original TED page w/ speaker bio, links, comments, etc:

James Watson:  How He Discovered DNA

After watching this video just one time I could already tell what I was going to write about.

James Watson amazed me with his stage presence, intellect, and impressive accomplishments. He was enrolled in the University of Chicago at age 15. He discovered the structure of DNA. He is a Nobel laureate. But most of all he was put down many times by many people, yet he had the courage and strength to get back up and continue trying. He is the embodiment of the saying “when you fall off the horse you get back on”. Watson was told not to build any more models of DNA after he showed his first model to Rosalind Franklin. Now Watson and Francis Crick are credited with the discovery of the structure of DNA.

If Watson had listened to everyone who told him not to build models he never would have made his discovery.

Watson looks at ease on the stage talking about what he says “slightly bores [him]“. He is an 82 year old man standing on the stage speaking eloquently and energetically about his processes and his life. His quirky interjections keep the talk entertaining and informative at the same time. This makes it appeal to a wider audience than others’ talks which are purely informational.

Nowadays James Watson is still involved in the scientific world as he works on finding the genetics behind diseases. He believes that diseases are caused by insertions or deletions in the genome. Every human has at least ten places where a gene has been lost or gained and if this happens in the wrong gene or in a high quantity it can be the reason for things such as schizophrenia or autism, as Watson is studying. Watson even says that if you are left-handed you are prone to schizophrenia and some people who think they are right-handed are genetically left-handed, so things aren’t always as they seem.

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