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DNA in your pocket
By Kate Dalke

Now you can have DNA in your genes and your blue jeans, too. The British Royal Mint has unveiled a commemorative coin to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the discovery of the double helix structure of DNA.

On one side, the coin features the DNA molecule with tiny T's, C's, A's and G's. A portrait of Her Majesty the Queen appears on the reverse side.

The two-pound coin is made of nickel, with a white center and yellow outer ring. The Mint plans to put the coin in circulation later this year. Special collector's coins will be available in gold and silver.

John W. Mills, a British sculptor, created the design. As it turns out, Mills did a portrait some forty years ago of Sir Lawrence Bragg, whose work in x-ray crystallography helped James Watson and Francis Crick decipher the structure of DNA in 1953. During this meeting, the scientist told the young artist about the beauty of a double helix chain.

"His lecture gave me the inspiration for the design," Mills says.

Mills has designed coins to celebrate the 50th anniversary of D-Day and the Euro Football Cup in 1996, and he knows that accuracy is essential.

"In this case, we had to be sure the DNA profile was correct," he says. "However small the coin, there's always someone there with a magnifying glass checking for errors."

For further information

More about the artist John W. Mills at

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