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Giant Double Helix

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DNA is now larger than life. A giant model of the double helix is on display at the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, D.C., marking the 50th anniversary of Watson and Crick’s discovery. The plastic model—25 feet long and 8 feet high—is a preview of an upcoming exhibit called Genome: The Secret of How Life Works, which opens on June 7, 2003.

In addition to the giant double helix, the interactive exhibit will feature hereditary slot machines—visitors can check their odds of inheriting certain genetic traits—and a “cookie factory” that illustrates how proteins are made from ingredients like DNA and genes.

The exhibit will run at the Smithsonian’s Arts and Industries Building through January 4, 2004, then travel to museums and science centers in fifteen other U.S. cities.

Museum exhibits are one way the human genome is entering the public consciousness. In another, the U.S. Senate has officially designated this month as “Human Genome Month” and April 25, 2003, as “DNA Day.” Watson and Crick’s paper was published in Nature fifty years earlier.

The exhibition Web site is
For more information, call (202) 357-2700 or visit

Kate Dalke

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