Ali Smith's superb new book, Artful, began as a series of talks on comparative literature that were delivered at St. Anne's College, Oxford, in January and February of last year. It must've been one hell of a show. "The second week, the students had tripled," Smith told The Independent, and by the final week you couldn't find an open seat in the back row.
English critic Samuel Johnson once said of William Shakespeare "that his drama is the mirror of life." Now the Bard's words have been translated into life's most basic language. British scientists have stored all 154 of Shakespeare's sonnets on tiny stretches of DNA.
It all started with two men in a pub. Ewan Birney and Nick Goldman, both scientists from the European Bioinformatics Institute, were drinking beer and discussing a problem.