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Artwork: Miller-Urey experiment on origin of life

Artwork: Miller-Urey experiment on origin of life

G350/0235

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Credit

FRANCIS LEROY, BIOCOSMOS / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY FRANCIS LEROY, BIOCOSMOS / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY

Caption

Miller-Urey experiment. Illustration showing the apparatus used in the Miller-Urey experiment to study the origin of life. In this experiment of the 1950s, American scientists Miller and Urey attempted to duplicate the conditions which would have existed on the primordial Earth. The apparatus contains a "sea" of sterile water (at bottom) under an "atmosphere" of hydrogen, methane and ammonia (upper right). Electrodes give off a spark to imitate either lightning or ultra- violet radiation from the Sun. After a week or so, the result is a tar-like residue containing amino acids, the basic building blocks of life.

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