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Meselson, Stahl, and the Replication of DNAA History of "The Most Beautiful Experiment in Biology"$
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Frederic Lawrence Holmes

Print publication date: 2001

Print ISBN-13: 9780300085402

Published to Yale Scholarship Online: October 2013

DOI: 10.12987/yale/9780300085402.001.0001

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An Extremely Beautiful Experiment

An Extremely Beautiful Experiment

(p.319) Chapter Ten An Extremely Beautiful Experiment
Meselson, Stahl, and the Replication of DNA

Frederic Lawrence Holmes

Yale University Press

This chapter describes Meselson's reaction to the outcome of the transfer experiment begun in Stahl's absence. The outcome, according to Meselson, was ludicrous—an artifact due to his having mixed up the DNA samples just as Stahl had teasingly said he might. However, the appearance of a “half-heavy band” must be real; there was no way he could have messed things up so as to make that happen. Immediately they made preparations for a second experiment, and Meselson agreed this time to simplify matters by running it only in one direction. They chose to grow the bacteria first on 15N and then switch them to 14N, rather than the other way around, because that strategy minimized the quantity of the expensive isotope required.

Keywords:   transfer experiment, artifact, DNA samples, half-heavy band, 15N, 14N, expensive isotope

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