Who is Harold Urey as a scientist

Knowledge pool
Experiment kinship

  • Did life come from outer space?

The harder it was to find the answers to these questions, the more exotic the explanations became. Some researchers believed that the basic building blocks of life were transported by asteroids through space to Earth. Of course, this hypothesis only shifts the question of the first formation of organic molecules to a different place, because they must have appeared for the first time somewhere. It doesn't help that the presence of amino acids on asteroids has actually been proven. But where is their origin, where and how did these molecules come about?

American chemistry student Stanley Miller also asked himself these questions in 1953. Together with Harold Urey, he wanted to simulate the conditions of the primordial earth in the laboratory in order to see which chemical reactions could have taken place in the early days of the earth and which substances may have been formed.

The experimental setup was relatively simple. To simulate the presumed early earth atmosphere, Miller mixed water (H₂O) with ammonia (NH₃), methane (CH₄) and hydrogen (H₂). Oxygen was practically non-existent in the early Earth's atmosphere. Electric discharges that simulated lightning were used as energy supply. The mixture was heated using a Bunsen burner. After just one week, a brownish precipitate could be observed in the test setup. Chromatography proved that a large number of organic substances had formed in the comparatively short time, including amino acids, the building blocks of proteins.