The Laboratory Experiments

THE MILLER EXPERIMENT—It was *Stanley Miller in 1953 who first produced amino acids from chemicals. We want to know how he did it, for THAT is the way the so-called "primitive environment" would have had to do it by merest chance:

The laboratory apparatus he used to accomplish this consisted of two confluently interconnected, chemical flasks (or bottles), arranged one above the other. The lower flask was heated and contained boiling water. The upper flask contained a mixture of gases including ammonia, methane, hydrogen, and water vapor. (The upper flask had the presumed "primitive atmosphere," since it was known that if oxygen were present, the experiment would be a failure.)

First, he boiled a mixture of water, methane, ammonia, and hydrogen gases in the upper bottle while a small electric spark continually played over them all. (That was supposed to be equivalent to a gigantic lightning ball in the primitive environment which might strike the spot once every so many years, instantly destroying everything it touched.) The lower bottle of water was kept boiling in order to keep the mixture in the upper bottle stirred up and circulating. (The "primitive ocean" must have been pretty hot!) There was a trap in the bottom of the glass apparatus to catch any soluble organic products, so they would not be broken down after formation by the spark. (Chem-

MILLER'S LABORATORY APPARATUS—This is how *Stanley Miller simulated lightning hitting some dirty water. The few non-living amino acid specks, which he produced, had equal amounts of L and D forms, so were biologically useless.

Here is *Miller's simulation of a "primitive environment":

A vacuum pump to continually circulate the vapors; special tubing to seal off the outside world; special distilled water inlets and outlets; an electric element producing 212° F. [100° C.] water temperature; electrical contacts to make a continuous, very low-amperage spark; and a trap arrangement to immediately siphon off nitrogenous products before they were destroyed in the boiling water and resultant vapors.

Where in the world could you find such a "primitive environment"?

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