Thursday, June 21, 2012

Primordial Soup

 “But if (and Oh! what a big if!) we could conceive in some warm little pond, with all sorts of ammonia and phosphoric salts, light, heat, electricity, etc., present, that a protein compound was chemically formed ready to undergo still more complex changes, at the present day such matter would be instantly devoured or absorbed, which would not have been the case before living creatures were formed.”
-Charles Darwin 1871

A primordial soup sounds like some absurd dish served at an upscale New York restaurant.  One that is filled with who knows what, and will end up costing a leg to acquire. While this may be an endeavor a few may wish to act upon; most will forgo it. For primordial soup is not just any old soup, it is the first soup from which life is theorized to have arisen.  Think oceans, amino acids, and the early atmosphere rather than noodles, chicken, and carrots. The concept of a primordial soup is so much more fascinating than any edible soup will ever be. In fact, it is such a fascinating idea that two scientists, and later on others, strived to recreate this soup under an environment much like that seen on the early Earth. The interesting thing is; they succeeded. These scientists were able to recreate an environment that allowed for the formation of amino acids and other organic compounds essential for life. This “Miller -Urey Experiment,” thus called in honor of the first ever conduction carried out by our two scientists Stanley L. Miller and his graduate adviser Harold C. Urey, was mind blowing to say the least (Miller/Urey).  Here we have two scientists who were able to create an environment where amino acids, the building blocks of life as we know it, prospered with nothing more than some gases, an electric current, and some heat. Well, it is a little more complex than that, but we shall explore that later. So, what does this mean? What can this experiment possible uncover about the mysteries swirling around the early Earth and the creation of life? The Miller-Urey Experiment opened many new doors for such inquires, as well as criticism, but really, what scientific discovery does not?  Amino acids, gases, heat, and a spark; interesting concept, but what does it mean? 

I guess we will just have to find out later this week ;)

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