Another DNA anniversary, which tells a different story from the textbooks

Why Evolution Is True

by Matthew Cobb

60 years ago this week, June 5 – June 11 1953, the 18th annual Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory Symposium on Quantitative Biology took place on Long Island, New York. The topic was ‘Viruses’, and the papers that were presented were focused around recent discoveries from work on ‘phage (from ‘bacteriophage’), which was becoming a massive research area.

272 scientists crammed into the new lecture hall that had recently been built at Cold Spring Harbor. The site – which is still a major centre of genetic research – is on the north shore of Long Island. It is a marvellous place to study, with the waters of Long Island Sound lapping only a few metres from the entrances to some of the labs, and a beach where evening parties can be had and horseshoe crabs hove up to mate.

There were two stand-out papers given at the…

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