The Origin Of Life

In 1953 a student named Stanley Miller did an experiment showing that the simple chemicals present on the early Earth could give rise to the basic building blocks of life. Miller filled a flask with water, methane, hydrogen and ammonia–the main ingredients in the primordial soup. Then he zapped the brew with electricity to simulate lightning, and, voila, he created amino acids, crucial for life. Now, scientists have reanalyzed this classic experiment, and found that the results were even more remarkable than Miller had realized.

Jeffrey Bada, a former student of Miller’s, preserved the chemicals that were produced by those original sparks. And he analyzed the samples using equipment that wasn’t available in the ’50s. He discovered an even greater variety of organic materials than Miller originally reported…

This is from a podcast you can access HERE.

How many research labs have active OOL work going on? Are there more such labs than the number of primordial puddles (or undersea vents) at the time of the OOL? How long have they been operating? For more or less time than total time of OOL conditions during early Earth days?


  1. #1 NoAstronomer
    November 13, 2008

    OOL? Old-old-labwork? Out Of Life? Original Oxygen-free Lithosphere?

  2. #2 Coturnix
    November 13, 2008

    Ha! PZ wrote in depth about this re-analysis paper a few weeks ago. I just taught about Origin Of Life two days ago in my BIO101 class – integrated smoothly into my two (out of a total of 8) lectures on evolution and diversity of life. I made my students read this for more information.

  3. #3 Alan Kellogg
    November 13, 2008

    Interesting questions. People forget that when you’re talking millions of square miles of lab, and million of years of run time, you can get a shit load of experimenting done.

  4. #4 Greg Laden
    November 14, 2008

    OOL = origin of life