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Phage and the Origins of Molecular Biology, The Centennial Edition

Subject Area(s):  Molecular BiologyHistory of Science

Edited by John Cairns, Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory; Gunther S. Stent, University of California, Berkeley; James D. Watson, Harvard University

© 2007 • 394 pp., illus., timeline, photo gallery
Paperback • $49
ISBN  978-1-621823-18-6

  •     Description    
  •     Contents    
  •     Reviews    


This hugely influential book, published in 1966 as a 60th birthday tribute to Max Delbrück, is now republished as The Centennial Edition. On first publication, the book was hailed as “[introducing] into the literature of science, for the first time, a self–conscious historical element in which the participants in scientific discovery engage in writing their own chronicle. As such, it is an important document in the history of biology...” (Journal of History of Biology). And in another review it was described as “required reading for every student of experimental biology...[who] will sense the smell and rattle of the laboratory” (Bioscience). The book was a formative influence on many of today’s leading scientists.


Note from the Publisher
Preface to the First Edition
John Cairns, Gunther S. Stent, James D. Watson
Preface to the Expanded Edition
John Cairns

Introduction: Waiting for the Paradox
Gunther S. Stent
A Physicist Looks at Biology
Max Delbrück
Biochemical Genetics: Some Recollections
George W. Beadle
The Target Theory
K.G. Zimmer
High Energy Phosphate Bonds: Optional or Obligatory?
Herman M. Kalckar

Bacteriophage: One-Step Growth
Emory L. Ellis
Electron Microscopy of Phages
Thomas F. Anderson
The Eclipse in the Bacteriophage Life Cycle
A.H. Doermann
The Prophage and I
André Lwoff
The Injection of DNA into Cells by Phage
A.D. Hershey
Transfer of Parental Material to Progeny
Lloyd M. Kozloff
Electron Microscopy of Developing Bacteriophage
Edward Kellenberger

Phenotypic Mixing
Aaron Novick
Mating Theory
N. Visconti
On the Physical Basis of Genetic Structure in Bacteriophage
A.D. Kaiser
Adventures in the rII Region
Seymour Benzer
Conditional Lethals
R.S. Edgar

Mutations of Bacteria and of Bacteriophage
S.E. Luria
Gene, Transforming Principle, and DNA
Rollin D. Hotchkiss
Sexual Differentiation in Bacteria
William Hayes
Bacterial Conjugation
Elie L. Wollman
Story and Structure of the λ Transducing Phage
J. Weigle

Growing Up in the Phage Group
J.D. Watson
Demonstration of the Semiconservative Mode of DNA Duplication
Matthew Meselson and Franklin W. Stahl
The Autoradiography of DNA
John Cairns
Φx: Multum in Parvo
Robert L. Sinsheimer
The Relation between Nuclear and Cellular Division in Escherichia coli
Ole Maaløe

The Mammalian Cell
T.T. Puck
The Plaque Technique and the Development of Quantitative Animal Virology
Renato Dulbecco
Quantitatitve Tumor Virology
H. Rubin
The Natural Selection Theory of Antibody Formation; Ten Years Later
Niels K. Jerne
Cybernetics of the Insect Optomotor Response
Werner E. Reichardt
Teminal Redundancy, or All's Well that Ends Well
George Streisinger

How Molecular Biology Started
John C. Kendrew
Reprinted from Scientific American, March 1967
That Was the Molecular Biology That Was
Gunther S. Stent
Reprinted from Science, April 26, 1968
Max Delbrück, 1906—1981
Gunther S. Stent
Reprinted from Genetics, May 1982


Photo Gallery


review:  “There are those who cherish first editions, but the centennial edition, which contains everything in earlier versions, has a bonus beyond the inclusion of the gallery of photographs — it is cheaper than most of its well-worn predecessors. I heartily recommend the book to those who have never read these personal narratives of the early days of microbial genetics. All can benefit and learn from Phage and the Origins of Molecular Biology. Molecular biology is not dead! Long live the phage!”
      —The Quarterly Review of Biology