"Primordial Alphabet Soup"

BTG Issue: 
September/October 1991 | Vol. 25 No. 5
"Although the rules for chemical bonding may allow simple biological molecules to form, these same rules don't guarantee that the higher forms of organization found in living organisms will arise."

"Thirty-eight years ago what is arguably the greatest mystery ever puzzled over by scientists – the origin of life – seemed virtually solved by a single experiment. This is how the February 1991 issue of Scientific American begins a review of theories of the origin of life. The simple experiment, carried out by a University of Chicago graduate student named Stanley Miller, involved placing a mixture of methane, ammonia, hydrogen, and water in a sealed flask and zapping it with electric sparks. The result was a tarry goo containing amino acids, the building blocks of proteins found in living organisms. To Miller it seemed but a few inevitable evolutionary steps from this primordial soup of water and biomolecules to the first living organisms. ... Unfortunately, as the article in Scientific American points out, scientists are far from understanding life's origins."

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