The 1970s and 80s saw the invention of ingenious new ways to manipulate DNA, which remain the cornerstone of today’s genetic revolution. Knowing them is crucial to track the progress of research. This is the goal of the fifth episode of Cracking the Code, a series that describes the milestones of genetics and been extremely popular among both the public and the critics for years.
A scientist-magician takes out of a magic box six mind-boggling tricks related to DNA and lab techniques. This marks the beginning of a journey into amazing scientific discoveries. The six “tricks” are used as a basis to explain more complex technologies such as DNA fingerprinting (determining the genetic fingerprint unique to each individual), DNA sequencing (determining the succession of the letters that make up the genetic code) and PCR (Polymerase Chain Reaction), a technique that amplifies DNA fragments by making several copies of them.
Narration and animation are complemented with contributions by the authors of the discoveries. The cast of characters includes Alec Jeffreys, the inventor of DNA fingerprinting, who tells about the first time this technique was used in a forensic investigation and led to the identification of the perpetrator of a double homicide.
One final point about the soundtrack: far from being mere background music, it is a funny interpretation of the scientific contents of the film.
The Festival will also screen Understanding the Book of Life, another episode from the same series.