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How was Oparin's hypothesis tested experimentally?

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Quick Answer

Oparin's hypothesis is tested by simulating conditions on primitive Earth. A flask is filled with a gas mixture consisting of ammonia, water, methane and hydrogen, which is then energized by an electric charge.

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The experiment simulates early conditions on Earth by sealing water, ammonia, methane and hydrogen gas in a 500 milliliter flask. A continuous discharge of electricity runs through the gases as a substitute for lightening and solar radiation. The product is allowed to cool, condense and collect in a lower flask that is half-filled with liquid water. The liquid water in the second flask is heated so that the water can evaporate and recycle through the whole system.

After just one day, matter begins to collect in the lower flask. In the original experiment, tests revealed 11 amino acids formed in the system, as well as various other sugars and organic compounds. Later re-creations of the experiment were able to determine that over 20 amino acids are produced by this experiment.

Stanley L. Miller and Harold C. Urey first conducted this experiment in 1953, proving that organic matter could be created from this primordial mixture of gases. These gases were chosen in particular because they are believed to represent the components of early Earth's atmosphere.

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