The Genetic Code, by Isaac Asimov
Vol. 51, No. 3 (SEPTEMBER 1963)
THE GENETIC CODE, by Isaac Asimov; 181 pages; $3.95; The Orion Press, 1962.
This book contains a great deal of interesting general discussion of biology, biochemistry, and elementary organic chemistry. This is rather a large number of subjects to be explored in 181 pages.
The author evidently believes that his readers will have some difficulty in pronouncing even short chemical words, so these have been phoneticized, as in the following examples; enzyme (en’ zime), carboxyl (kahr-bok’ sil), amide (am’ ide); benzene (ben-zeen’).
Most of the book is an introduction to the chemistry of living cells rather than a description of the genetic code. On page 135 the third of the three possible hydrogen bonds between guanine and cytosine has been omitted, and the hydrogens have been omitted from all hydrogen bonds, which seems rather paradoxical. A serious mistake is on page 167 where the statement is made “... 64 triplets for 22 amino acids.” This is not a typographical error because the author again, on page 71, is unable to concede that 20 amino acids are involved in protein synthesis, and prefers to “stick to twenty-two,” which seriously interferes with the possibility of correlating his views with current approaches to the genetic code.
Biologist Thomas Jukes (1906–1999) spent the majority of his career at
the University of California, Berkeley, with stints at UC Davis and at
Lederle Laboratories, where his work included research on the use of
antibiotics in the livestock industry. Jukes advocated for the teaching
of evolution in the schools and against bans on the pesticide DDT. He
wrote an article about the latter, which was published in the
September–October 1963 issue of American Scientist, as well as numerous other articles and a book, Molecules and Evolution (1966).
Connect With Us:
An early peek at each new issue, with descriptions of feature articles, columns, and more. Every other issue contains links to everything in the latest issue's table of contents.News of book reviews published in American Scientist and around the web, as well as other noteworthy happenings in the world of science books.
To sign up for automatic emails of the American Scientist Update and Scientists' Nightstand issues, create an online profile, then sign up in the My AmSci area.
Receive notification when new content is posted from the entire website, or choose from the customized feeds available.
JSTOR, the online academic archive, contains complete back issues of American Scientist from 1913 (known then as the Sigma Xi Quarterly) through 2005.
The table of contents for each issue is freely available to all users; those with institutional access can read each complete issue.
View the full collection here.