Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

A 21st century adaptation of the Miller-Urey origin of life experiments

Date:
January 21, 2014
Source:
Journal of Visualized Experiments (JOVE)
Summary:
Scientists have developed a modern approach to a famed experiment that explored one of the most intriguing research questions facing scientists today —- the origin of life on Earth.

Miller-Urey experiments study the abiotic synthesis of organic compounds by creating an environment similar to that of the early earth. An electric discharge is applied to a mixture of gases representing the early earth's atmosphere and lightening. This is done in the presence of a liquid water reservoir, representing the early oceans, as well as with an apparatus simulating evaporation and precipitation.
Credit: JoVE;The Journal of Visualized Experiments

Today, January 21, JoVE, the Journal of Visualized Experiments, published a modern approach to a famed experiment that explored one of the most intriguing research questions facing scientists today -- the origin of life on earth.

The protocol, titled Conducting Miller-Urey Experiments, is composed of a modern and simplified approach to the method used by Dr. Stanley Miller and Dr. Harold Urey in 1953. Their research evaluated the possibility of organic compounds important for the origin of life to have been formed abiologically on early Earth.

"The results of this study showed that amino acids, the building blocks of life, could be formed under primitive Earth conditions," said Eric Parker of the original Miller-Urey Experiments. Parker is one of the researchers behind the simplified procedure, which he and his team developed at the Georgia Institute of Technology. Scientists from NASA -- one of whom, Jeffrey Bada, was once a student of Dr. Miller's -- and the Tokyo Institute of Technology were also involved.

"Miller was hesitant to encourage people to repeat the experiment due to the risk of inducing an explosion," said Parker, explaining why his lab chose to publish their version of the experiment in JoVE's signature step-by-step video format. "Often times, after reading a methods description it may not be fully clear how a certain research task was carried out," he said, ." ..Therefore, this article was written to inform interested researchers how to conduct the experiment safely, in part, by giving precise instructions on evacuating [ignitable gasses like oxygen, methane and hydrogen from] the reaction apparatus before initiating the spark."

Despite these dangers, Parker said, there remains much interest among scientists to recreate the Miller-Urey experiment and to perform variations of it for testing new research ideas. He and his colleagues are preparing to publish a second article comparing their novel spark-discharge experimental results to original samples from the 1958 Miller-Urey cyanamide spark-discharge study that followed the landmark paper.

In the meantime, Parker and his colleagues hope that their JoVE video will encourage more research with Miller-Urey type experiments. Such efforts could help answer key questions in the origin of life field, such as which prebiotic conditions may have facilitated the synthesis of specific organic compounds believed to be important for life, Parker said.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Journal of Visualized Experiments (JOVE). Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Parker, E. T., Cleaves, J. H., Burton, A. S., Glavin, D. P., Dworkin, J. P., Zhou, M., et al. Conducting Miller-Urey Experiments. J. Vis. Exp., (83), e51039 DOI: 10.3791/51039

Cite This Page:

Journal of Visualized Experiments (JOVE). "A 21st century adaptation of the Miller-Urey origin of life experiments." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 21 January 2014. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/01/140121092738.htm>.
Journal of Visualized Experiments (JOVE). (2014, January 21). A 21st century adaptation of the Miller-Urey origin of life experiments. ScienceDaily. Retrieved April 18, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/01/140121092738.htm
Journal of Visualized Experiments (JOVE). "A 21st century adaptation of the Miller-Urey origin of life experiments." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/01/140121092738.htm (accessed April 18, 2014).

Share This



More Fossils & Ruins News

Friday, April 18, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Couple Finds Love Letters From WWI In Attic

Couple Finds Love Letters From WWI In Attic

Newsy (Apr. 17, 2014) A couple found love letters from World War I in their attic. They were able to deliver them to relatives of the writer of those letters. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Erotic Art Offers Glimpse of China's 'lost' Sexual Philosophy

Erotic Art Offers Glimpse of China's 'lost' Sexual Philosophy

AFP (Apr. 16, 2014) Explicit Chinese art works dating back centuries go on display in Hong Kong, revealing China's ancient relationship with sex. Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
French Historians Fight to Save Iconic La Samaritaine Buildings

French Historians Fight to Save Iconic La Samaritaine Buildings

AFP (Apr. 15, 2014) Parisians and local historians are fighting to save one of the French capital's iconic buildings, the La Samaritaine department store. Duration: 01:42 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Bee Fossils Provide Insight Into Ice Age Environment

Bee Fossils Provide Insight Into Ice Age Environment

Newsy (Apr. 12, 2014) Archeologists have found many fossils in the La Brea Tar Pits, including those of saber-tooth tigers and mammoths. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins