R.I.P. – Stanley Miller, Father of Origin of Life Chemistry Thursday, May 24, 2007Posted by h3nry in biochemistry, biology, chemistry, exobiology, Harold Urey, Miller-Urey, origin of life, sarcasm, science, science experiment, Stanley Miller.
He is known for his landmark and famous Miller-Urey experiment conducted as a graduate in 1953. This experiment shows that simple chemical elements can be catalysed into amino acids – the building blocks of protein – that is, simple inorganic chemical compounds can be made into organic elements.
The novel experiment was designed to show that the assumed primitive atmospheric condition of the early Earth could possibly produce life chemical compounds. With only water, hydrogen, methane and ammonia mixed in a flask, zapped with some serious sparks of electrical discharge, amino acids were formed in a “molecular soup” within a week.
The experiment has since then captured the imagination of the general public, and has being verified independently by other scientists. Although the early Earth atmospheric condition is now seen quite different to what the impressive experiment assumed, nonetheless, as the late Carl Sagan described, this experiment is seen as
The single most significant step in convincing many scientists that life is likely to be abundant in the cosmos.
I must also mention Miller’s then supervisor, Dr. Harold Urey, a Nobel Prize recipient, who kindly guided Miller and gave him the full credit.
Miller was a leading authority in the fields of origin of life, exobiology, and clathrate hydrates for many decades, and was a member of the prestigious Natioanal Academy of Science. He also was a winner of the Oparin Medal.
Rest in peace.