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DNA and Atoms: The Secret of Life

Seoul National University via edX


In this chemistry course, you will learn about “Life in the Universe." We will explore DNA as genetic material and atoms as the building blocks of life. We will discuss the discovery and key features of the double helical structure of DNA and the chemical principles behind the sugar-phosphate backbone and hydrogen bonding in the base pairs will be emphasized. We will also discuss identification DNA as genetic material.

At the end of the course, you will learn how and why atoms are bonded to make molecules such as DNA and the discovery of argon will be used to explain the valency and reactivity of different elements based on the periodic table.

To help learners better understand the material, we will be referencing Nobel lectures and scientific papers such as:

  • Watson and Crick’s 1953 paper in Nature
  • Rayleigh’s 1904 Nobel Lecture on the discovery of argon
  • The 1944 paper in J. Experimental Medicine by Avery, MacLeod, and McCarty
  • Perrin’s 1928 Nobel Lecture


Week 1: Structure of DNA
Week 2: Genetic Material
Week 3: Atomic Theory
Week 4: Periodic Table

Taught by

Hie-Joon Kim and Tony Cho


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  • Profile image for Nelibeth Galindez
    Nelibeth Galindez
    In DNA structure, the arrangement of nucleotides in two long strands that form a spiral is called Double Helix. The structure of the double helix is somewhat like a ladder, with the base pairs forming the ladder's rungs and the sugar and phosphate molecules forming the vertical sidepieces of the ladder.

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