Miller Reports the Synthesis of Amino Acids (Great Events from History II: Science and Technology Series)
Article abstract: Miller synthesized amino acids by combining a mixture of water, hydrogen, methane, and ammonia and exposing it to an electrical spark.
Summary of Event
The origin of life on Earth has long been an intractable problem for scientists. While most scientists can envision the development of life through geologic time from simple single-cell bacteria to complex mammals by the processes of mutation and natural selection, they have found it most difficult to develop a theory to define how organic materials were first formed and organized into life. This stage in the development of life—before biologic systems arose—is called chemical evolution and occurred between 4.5 and 3.5 billion years ago. Although great advances in genetics and biochemistry have shown the intricate workings of the cell, relatively little light has been shed on the origins of this intricate machinery of the cell. Some experiments, however, have provided important data from which to build a scientific theory of the origin of life. The first of these experiments was the classic work of Stanley Lloyd Miller.
Miller worked with Harold Clayton Urey, a Nobel laureate, on the environments of the early earth. John Burdon Sanderson Haldane, a British biochemist, had suggested in 1929 that the earth’s early atmosphere was a reducing one—that it contained no free oxygen. In 1952, Urey published a seminal work in planetology,...
(The entire section is 1954 words.)
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