Book Review: The Code Breaker

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You know how writers are sometimes asked whom they would like to have over for a small dinner party? Well, historian, biographer and academic Walter Isaacson, out now with another magnificent tome, The Code Breaker , says – with nods to other innovators he’s written about, including Einstein, Steve Jobs and his favorite genius, Leonardo Da Vinci – that his guests would be Benjamin Franklin and Jennifer Doudna. Franklin, whom Isaacson wrote about in 2003, was a prime exemplar of “curiosity,” the driving force behind inquiries and inventions. As for Doudna, who he says manifests the same kind of obsessive inquisitiveness about nature as Franklin, her name emerged for most of us only last fall along with that of Emmanuelle Charpentier. They shared the 2020 Nobel Prize for chemistry, having helped pioneer CRISPR, a gene editing technique, using tracer RNA to direct DNA to recognize and fight viruses that attack bacteria. As for that acronym CRISPR, it stands for Clustered Regularly

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