In the fall of 1952, Stanley Miller, now a chemistry professor emeritus at the University of California, San Diego (UCSD), began simulating primitive earthly conditions in an experiment that produced the basic building blocks of life. When he published the results in Science on May 15 the following year, he kick-started research on the origin of life and transformed modern thinking on a dormant area of science.
Jeffrey Bada, a professor of marine chemistry at Scripps Institution of Oceanography, UCSD, and an expert on origin of life processes, revisits the famous "Miller experiment" in a report published in the May 2 issue of Science.
"Up to Millers experiment there was a large vacuum in our understanding of how life began on the earth," said Bada, who coauthored the report with Antonio Lazcano, a scientist at the Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México, and is a visiting scholar at UCSD in Millers laboratory. "Up to that point no one had demonstrated how compounds like amino acids could be synthesized under possible early Earth conditions."
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