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Publisher's Summary

Locked inside the DNA of every species that ever lived are endless stories - about origins, ancestors, fate, and much more. Until recently, these secrets were completely inaccessible. But with the help of new technologies, scientists are now reading the hidden history of DNA, making remarkable discoveries about ourselves and our fellow species. Your gateway to this treasure trove of information is Unlocking the Hidden History of DNA, 12 informative and accessible lectures delivered by New York Times best-selling author Sam Kean. Assuming the viewer has no prior background in science, these detailed but delightful half-hour lectures cover the fundamental properties of DNA, the techniques that have unraveled its mysteries, the exciting revelations that have resulted, and the very human stories of the scientists involved - many of whom won Nobel Prizes and sparked fierce controversies along the way. 

You start in the mid-19th century with Austrian monk Gregor Mendel, who pioneered the science of genetics with experiments on pea plants, and the almost-forgotten discovery of DNA by Friedrich Miescher. Proceeding briskly through decades when the connection between genes and DNA were pieced together, you learn about the discovery of DNA, the race to determine its structure, and the Human Genome Project, which mapped all three billion base pairs of our DNA. Then you dig deeply into our genome to mine its secrets, including our surprising relationship to Neanderthals, when we first started wearing clothes, genetic influences on language, and our kinship with viruses. You also excavate new historical details about King Tut, Genghis Khan, King Richard III, and Presidents Thomas Jefferson and Warren Harding. Finally, you examine today’s cutting-edge DNA technology, notably a genetic engineering technique called CRISPR heralded as holding the potential for science fiction-like manipulation of our species. Genetics has come a long way since Gregor Mendel’s humble pea plants. 

PLEASE NOTE: When you purchase this title, the accompanying PDF will be available in your Audible Library along with the audio. 

©2022 The Great Courses (P)2022 The Teaching Company, LLC

What listeners say about Unlocking the Hidden History of DNA

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Great course

This was an extremely interesting course. The first half is especially interesting. The second half is a bit scary, talking about all of the DNA experimentation that's going on! The lecture is very easy to listen to and very knowledgeable. I enjoyed this book.

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Very interesting

Sam is a good narrator he kept me engaged throughout all chapters. nice to listen to while during cleaning in quarantine.

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Learned some concepts

Pretty impressive how Professor Sam Kean explained complicated concepts in genetics such that non PHDs can understand. I’ve studied many of the topics described in his book, but his explanations increased by understanding a lot. Good Work!

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Well Assembled and entertaining.

A bit of history, a bit of science that are explained in a way that layman can easily understand, a pinch of funny interesting curiosities and facts. Pleasurable speech.

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DNA, it's so much more than you think

Sam Kean is an excellent scientific and historical author, who breaks down the invisible of DNA and reveals everything in the greatest of detail, but at a level of high school education. You don't have to a microbiologist to understand this audio. The lessons are simple, straight forward and revealing. From what is gene to what is a chromosome and how are they different. Where do they exist at, and how do they affect who I am. What is "Epigenetics", and can it really change me. These are just a few of the fascinating topics you will learn about. You will learn about a case of Buck Vs Bell in 1927 that Supreme Court Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes was famously quoted and became law in 33 states. Here is where a misunderstanding of epigenetics has been used against the will of the people, over 3,000 and counting. Here the mis use of science has brought misery in a very negative way to an unsuspecting public, especially the less fortunate and challenged. There are very important lessons to be understood. Listening to valued lessons such as " Unlocking the Hidden History of DNA" will bring you that much closer to the truth. 5 stars all the way. I also recommend the Bastard Brigade by Sam Kean. To reiterate, Sam is prolific author & historical researcher.

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Great!

This may be my favorite science audiobook from The Great Courses! It was quite interesting, and went over a lot I didn't know before. About the drama surrounding the discovery of DNA. How Gregor Mendel's successor thought so poorly of him that he burned all his notes. That neanderthals aren't the only hominids humans interbred with. That humans have shockingly little genetic diversity compared to other species, which implies a mass extinction event in our past. Lots of great stuff here, and the author does a good job of making it approachable. Recommended!