MIKKEL JUUL JENSEN / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY MIKKEL JUUL JENSEN / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY
Miller-Urey experiment. Computer illustration showing the apparatus used in the Miller-Urey experiment to study the origin of life. This 1950s experiment attempted to duplicate the conditions that would have existed on the primordial Earth. The apparatus contains a 'sea' of sterile water (bottom) and an 'atmosphere' of hydrogen, methane and ammonia (top right). Electrodes give off a spark within the 'atmosphere' to imitate either lightning or ultra-violet radiation from the Sun. The result is a tar-like residue containing amino acids, the basic building blocks of life.
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