A mixture of methane, ammonia, hydrogen, and water vapor, to simulate the version of Earth's primitive, reducing atmosphere proposed by Oparin, was introduced into a 5-liter flask and energized by an electrical discharge apparatus to represent ultraviolet radiation from the Sun. The products were allowed to condense and collect in a lower flask which modeled a body of water on the Earth's surface. Heat supplied to this flask recycled the water vapor just as water evaporates from lakes and seas, before moving into the atmosphere and condensing again as rain.
After a day of continuous operation, Miller and Urey found a thin layer of hydrocarbons on the surface of the water. After about a week of operation, a dark brown scum had collected in the lower flask and was found to contain several types of amino acids, including glycine and alanine, together with sugars, tars, and various other unidentified organic chemicals.
Related entry• Earth, early history
Related categories• ORIGIN AND EVOLUTION OF LIFE
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