In the Miller-Urey experiment of 1952, scientists Stanley Miller and Harold Urey discovered that amino acids had formed in the controlled environment they had created to chemically simulate early Earth. According to Duke University, these molecules, structures composed of nitrogen, oxygen, hydrogen and carbon, are necessary components of cellular life.Continue Reading
The first Miller-Urey experiement consisted of a sealed system in which the scientists had trapped methane, ammonia and hydrogen along with water. According to Wikipedia, these substances were believed to be abundant in early Earth's atmosphere. By heating the water and subjecting the mixing vapor to electrical current, the scientists meant to simulate lightning. The sparks triggered chemical reactions, and the new chemicals were deposited into the same water to repeat the cycle. After a week, over 10 percent of the carbon formed into amino acids, which are recognized organic compounds.
According to Casey Luskin's article in Evolution News, one significance of the Miller-Urey experiment is that it supported the theory that life originated in the "primordial soup" of elements of early Earth because the supposed substances present would have been able to create the amino acids Miller and Urey found. However, scientists later concluded that Miller and Urey were operating under false assumptions about the nature of the Earth's atmosphere at the time the experiment was meant to represent, and these new findings nullified much of the impact the experiment had on the primordial soup hypothesis.Learn more about Atoms & Molecules