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Science. 2008 Oct 17;322(5900):404. doi: 10.1126/science.1161527.

The Miller volcanic spark discharge experiment.

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  • 1Interdisciplinary Biochemistry Program, Indiana University, Bloomington, IN 47401, USA.


Miller's 1950s experiments used, besides the apparatus known in textbooks, one that generated a hot water mist in the spark flask, simulating a water vapor-rich volcanic eruption. We found the original extracts of this experiment in Miller's material and reanalyzed them. The volcanic apparatus produced a wider variety of amino acids than the classic one. Release of reduced gases in volcanic eruptions accompanied by lightning could have been common on the early Earth. Prebiotic compounds synthesized in these environments could have locally accumulated, where they could have undergone further processing.

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