An Interactive Annotated World Bibliography of Printed and Digital Works in the History of Medicine and the Life Sciences from Circa 2000 BCE to 2022 by Fielding H. Garrison (1870-1935), Leslie T. Morton (1907-2004), and Jeremy M. Norman (1945- ) Traditionally Known as “Garrison-Morton”

15849 entries, 13787 authors and 1925 subjects. Updated: January 28, 2023

GAMOW, George (Gamov)

1 entries
  • 6896

Possible relation between deoxyribonucleic acid and protein structures.

Nature, 173, No. 4398, 318, 1954.

Gamow, a physicist, invented the concept of a genetic code. This brief 1-page paper, published in the February 13, 1954 issue of Nature was the first specific positive response to Watson and Crick's structure of DNA. Where others, notably Max Delbruck, had reacted for all their excitement by suggesting ways the double-helix structure could be tested and might have to be modified, Gamov took it as given and set it to work. The importance of Gamow's idea, Crick later said, "was that it was really an abstract theory of coding, and was not cluttered up with a lot of unnecessary chemical details." Gamow disentangled the problem, stating that if genes were DNA, and DNA was two chains side by side, formed of anly four kinds of nucleotides and joined by the paired bases, "It follows that all hereditary properties of any living organism can be characterized by a long number....written in a four-digital system, and containing many thousands of consecutive digits." This Gamow called "the number of the beast" (Judson, Eighth Day of Creation (1996) 256).

See also:, Gamow, "Possible mathematical relation between deoxyribonucleic acid and proteins," Det Kongelige Danske Videnskabernes Selskab: Biologiske Meddelelser, 22 (1954) 1-13, and Gamow & Martynas Yčas, "Statistical correlation of protein and ribonucleic acid composition," Proc. Nat. Acad. Sci. (USA), 41 (December,1955) 1011-1019, and Gamow, "Information transfer in the living cell," Scientific American, 193 (December 1955) 70-77.