Horace Freeland Judson died at his home in Baltimore last Friday. Best known for his monumental account of the discoveries of modern molecular biology, The Eighth Day of Creation, Horace was also a long-time contributor to Technology Review and a dear friend.
The Eighth Day of Creation remains the definitive account of the DNA revolution and, in the opinion of many science and technology journalists, the best popular science book ever written. Ten years in the writing, based on interviews with more than 100 scientists, the book was originally published in three subsequent issues of The New Yorker in 1978, and is still in print. Horace also wrote for Harper’s, Nature, and was the European correspondent for Time magazine during the 1960s. He taught the history of science for many years at Johns Hopkins and George Washington universities, and was the recipient of a MacArthur Fellowship in 1987.
Horace wrote three major features for Technology Review, all of which are worth rereading:
“The Glimmering Promise of Gene Therapy,” Nov. 2006.
“The Great Chinese Experiment,” Dec. 2005.
“The Problematical Dr. Huang Hongyun,” Jan 2005.
We’ll miss his unparalleled capacity for the hard work of interviewing scientists about research that had not yet been translated into nonspecialist language; his generosity to younger editors and writers; and his kindness and courage. Most of all we’ll regret that there will be no further stories written in his inimitable voice that was at once humorous, courteous, and civilized but simultaneously colloquial and wholly American.
Our thoughts are with his children: the writer and evolutionary biologist Olivia Judson, and Grace, Thomas, and Nicholas.