The Molecules Of Life

DNA, RNA, and Proteins russ hodge foreword by Nadia Rosenthal, Ph.d.

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An imprint of Infobase Publishing

This book is dedicated to the memory of my grandparents E. J. and Mabel Evens, to my parents, Ed and Jo Hodge, and especially to my wife, Gabi, and my children—Jesper, Sharon, and Lisa—with love.


Copyright © 2009 by Russ Hodge

All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced or utilized in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying, recording, or by any information storage or retrieval systems, without permission in writing from the publisher. For information contact:

Facts On File, Inc. An imprint of Infobase Publishing 132 West 31st Street New York NY 10001

Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data

Hodge, Russ, 1961-

The molecules of life: DNA, RNA, and proteins / Russ Hodge ; foreword by Nadia Rosenthal. p. cm.

Includes bibliographical references and index. ISBN-13: 978-0-8160-6680-3 ISBN-10: 0-8160-6680-9

1. Nucleic acids—Popular works. 2. Proteins—Popular works. 3. Biochemistry— Popular works. 4. Molecular biology—Popular works. I. Title. QP620.H63 2009

611'.01816—dc22 2008037094

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Text design by Kerry Casey Illustrations by Richard Garratt Photo research by Elizabeth H. Oakes

Printed in the United States of America

This book is printed on acid-free paper.

I say that it touches a man that his blood is sea water and his tears are salt, that the seed of his loins is scarcely different from the same cells in a seaweed, and that of stuff like his bones coral is made. I say that the physical and biologic law lies down with him, and wakes when a child stirs in the womb, and that the sap in a tree, uprushing in the spring, and the smell of the loam, where the bacteria bestir themselves in darkness, and the path of the sun in the heaven, these are facts of first importance to his mental conclusions, and that a man who goes in no consciousness of them is a drifter and a dreamer, without a home or any contact with reality.

—Donald Culross Peattie, An Almanac for Moderns: A Daybook of Nature, 1935 (1963)

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