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Exploring Space - The Quest for Life Exploring Space - The Quest for Life Exploring Space - The Quest for Life
Meteorites and Life - The Possible Relationship to Life

Did We Come From Comet Dust?

Stanley Miller's Experiment: Sparking the Building Blocks of Life

February 1953

Dr. Stanley Miller
Dr. Stanley Miller

In 1953, scientist Stanley Miller performed an experiment that may explain what occurred on primitive Earth billions of years ago. He sent an electrical charge through a flask of a chemical solution of methane, ammonia, hydrogen and water. This created organic compounds including amino acids.

Making amino acids is tricky, even in the laboratory. We know amino acids exist in some kinds of meteorites and interplanetary dust particles. When they rain down on a planet's surface, they import the possible building blocks of life, not necessarily life itself. Scientists think that along the way, there must have been a crucial step that turned atoms into organisms, but they still don't know what it is.


Back Introduction 4.5 billion years ago  - In the Beginning: Formation of the Solar System less that 4.5 billion years ago - Crumbs of Creation: Formation of the Oort Cloud less that 4.5 billion years ago - More Crumbs of Creation: Formation of the Asteroid Belt May 1848 - Louis Pasteur's Discovery: The Design of Life Feb. 1953 - Stanley Miller's Experiment: Sparking the Building Blocks of Life Sept. 28, 1969 - The Murchison Meteorite Meets Earth Feb. 14, 1997 - Discovering a Left-Handed Link to Space: Amino Acids Found in Meteorite Dec. 20, 2001 - A Sweet Discovery: Sugars Found in Murchison Today - The Research Continues Next