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Miller Spark Discharge Experiment

Douglas Easton dpeaston at Microagewny.com
Tue May 21 19:04:45 EST 1996

In article <ianv-2708562147400001 at p20.vianet.on.ca>, ianv at vianet.on.ca (Ian Vaithilingam) wrote:
>Fellow students, teachers, and scientists,
>        I have become facinated with early work in the chemical origins of
>life.  The Urey/Miller spark discharge experiment of the 1950's (ie. "the
>artificial   synthesis of amino acids under primitive earth conditions")
>has inspired
>me to take on the same project for my high-school biochemistry course. 
>The experiment was a lab simulation of primeval conditions on the earth,
>investigating the chemical origins of life.  In brief, methane, ammonia,
>hydrogen and water were circulated in a apparatus and sparked by high
>voltage current - resulting in the production of amino acids (the 'builing
>blocks' of life).
>        I have read Miller's early publications (ie. the Science
>articles), and have set up my simplifed version of your experiment.  I was
>wondering if anyone might have any suggestions that would optimize the
>production of amino acids.
>        My apparatus is as follows:
>        -one 2-L Erlenmeyer flask serves as the spark chamber.
>        -a large stopper at the top has four holes/valves: one for gas in,
>one for gas out, and the other two for the electrodes that extend to the
>centre of the flask
>        -the gas-out valve is connected to an underwater seal.
>        -a 50 000 V tesla coil provides the spark source
>   snip---------Snip------------------------------------------------------------------------
>        Thank you very much in advance..  My entire class is very excited
>about the results that the experiment will bring about.  Also, thank you
>to all the people on the Usenet that have helped me with this project so
>far - I never would have proceed this far without you (I will get around
>to thanking you personally after this expt. is over and I have some
>                                Sincerely,
>                                        Ian Vaithilingam <ianv at vianet.on.ca>
>                                                Biochemistry Dept. (student)
>                                                O¹Gorman High School
>                                                Timmins, ON, Canada
>-- Please please keep the atomosphere reducing! If oxygen leaks into the apparatus
the methane could rapidly combust resulting in a tragic explosion. Are you 
working in a hood with a proper blast shield?

Regards and good luck

-Doug Easton

>                "God does not play dice."
>                            - A. Einstein

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