The Information

The Information

A History, a Theory, a Flood

James Gleick

Near 105 he wrote something offbeat: “genetic constitution of man.” There was no real precedent for this in current scientific thinking. James D. Watson was a twenty-one-year-old student of zoology in Indiana; the discovery of the structure of DNA lay several years in the future. This was the first time anyone suggested the genome was an information store measurable in bits. Shannon’s guess was conservative, by at least four orders of magnitude. He thought a “phono record (128 levels)” held more information: about 300,000 bits.

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