February 28, 1953 (a Saturday)

James Watson (left) and Francis Crick in 1959.

On this date, Cambridge University scientists James D. Watson and Frances H.C. Crick announced that they had determined the structure of DNA, the molecule containing human genes. On the morning of February 28, they determined that the structure of DNA was a double-helix polymer, or a spiral of two DNA strands, each containing a long chain of monomer nucleotides, wound around each other.

In his best-selling book, The Double Helix (1968), Watson later claimed that Crick announced the discovery by walking into the nearby Eagle Pub and blurting out that “we had found the secret of life.”

Watson and Crick’s solution was formally announced on 25 April 1953, following its publication in that month’s issue of the journal Nature. The article revolutionized the study of biology and medicine.

Along with Maurice Wilkins, a colleague, Watson and Crick won the Nobel Prize in 1962 for their discovery.

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