When the going gets weird, the weird turn pro. - Hunter S. Thompson

18 October 2008

Court and spark

[Stanley Miller] wanted to test the current ideas for the origin of life, by striking electric sparks in a mixture of gases thought to resemble the atmosphere of the young Earth.

When his analysis of the products in the experiments revealed traces of the building blocks of life, amino acids (which combine to make proteins), Stanley Miller became an instant celebrity - though the 1950s newspapers were overstating the case when they claimed he had actually recreated life in the lab.

When Stanley Miller died in May last year, his former student, Jeffrey Bada, inherited his materials; including, it turns out, several boxes containing vials of dried samples from those 1950s experiments, and the accompanying notebooks.
BBC News Science: New Spark In Classic Experiments

Bada and colleagues are now re-creating Miller's classic experiment with objectively better tools and methods, and what they hope is an improved understanding of what conditions at the time were likely to be. Fascinating article.

Hat tip: Carrie

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