Scientists have revisited the famous 1953 Miller-Urey experiment on the conditions needed for the formation of life. In that experiment, a flask containing water, methane, ammonia and hydrogen was heated and exposed to electrical sparks. Over time, organic compounds including amino acids and sugars formed within the flask -- suggesting that warm, wet condition son the early Earth could have been suitable for creating the basic compounds needed for life.
Now, over 50 years later, scientists have re-examined those experiments, including a more detailed look at the compounds formed in Miller and Urey's flasks using modern analytical equipment. The new work, published this week in the journal Science, indicates that Miller and Urey were perhaps even more right than they originally thought. One variation of the flask apparatus, not originally published, produced a wider variety of amino acids than those produced in the apparatus described in Miller's publication. That setup included hot water mist, which simulated the water vapor conditions during a volcanic eruption. We'll talk with one of the authors of the new paper about what they found.
Produced by Christopher Intagliata, Senior Producer