The discovery of DNA was one of the greatest scientific advances of all time. Watson and Crick realised there was a connection between our genes and a mathematical shape, a helix with two chains (as illustrated in Figure 3.1). They used an abstract mathematical shape to model actual shapes in the world around us, and their model enabled them to explain the relevant scientific data. We see here an instance of the way in which visual thinking plays a key role in applications of mathematics.
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