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the miller experiment

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Oct 18th, 2017

The Miller–Urey experiment (or Urey–Miller experiment was an experiment that simulated the conditions thought at the time to be present on the early earth, and tested for the occurrence of chemicals of life. Specifically, the experiment tested alexander oparins's and JBS's hypothesis that conditions on the primitive Earth favored chemical reactions that synthesized more complex organic compounds from simpler organic precursors

Miller took molecules which were believed to represent the major components of the early Earth's atmosphere and put them into a closed system

The gases they used were methane (CH4), ammonia (NH3), hydrogen (H2), and water (H2O). Next, he ran a continuous electric current through the system, to simulate lightning storms believed to be common on the early earth. Analysis of the experiment was done by chromotography. At the end of one week, Miller observed that as much as 10-15% of the carbon was now in the form of organic compounds. Two percent of the carbon had formed some of the aminoacids which are used to make proteins. Perhaps most importantly, Miller's experiment showed that organic compounds such as amino acids, which are essential to cellular life, could be made easily under the conditions that scientists believed to be present on the early earth. This enormous finding inspired a multitude of further experiments.


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