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MAKING THE MODERN WORLD
Stories about the lives we've made

module:DNA: Structure and function

page:DNA replication

The complementary four-base arrangement of the helix immediately suggested a possible copying mechanism for genetic material to pioneering scientists Crick and Watson. Of the properties of DNA, the most remarkable is its ability to copy itself perfectly.


Metal plate used by Crick and Watson as one of the four bases. picture zoom © Science Museum/Science and Society Picture Library

Why do children look like their parents? Because the genetic information stored in DNA is passed on to the next generation. Perfect copies of human DNA are contained in the sperm or egg cells that form children. In fact, a sperm could be thought of as a 'package' of DNA and little else.

When humans reproduce, our DNA and therefore our characteristics pass from parent to child. You can read more about how the mysteries of inheritance puzzled scientists for years in the following scene.


STORY: What is life?
SCENE: The scientific challenge of inheritance
launch scene

Every cell in your body has a complete set of DNA, which copies itself to create new cells in the body as you grow or have to repair an injury.

Use the following activity to learn how DNA replicates, and create two new complete double helices from the original one.

ACTIVITY

 

Text only version

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Metal plate used by Crick and Watson as one of the four bases.
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