Significance Of The Urey And Miller Experiments Essay

1723 Words Jun 24th, 2015 7 Pages
Discuss the significance of the Urey and Miller experiments in the debate on the composition of the primitive atmosphere.
Through experimentation, Urey and Miller could replicate the conditions of early earth and show that inorganic materials with the right atmosphere can form organic molecules. The conditions of early earth included minimal free oxygen paired with torrential rains, volcanic eruptions and lightning. This combination caused the amalgamation of organic molecules from inorganic substances.

Miller and Urey set up a flask with four gases inside, which were the gases of early earth (methane, ammonia, hydrogen and water vapour). These gases were hypothesised to have existed in the early earths atmosphere due to the geological activity. The theory of plate tectonics proposes historical crustal movements which would result in the release of igneous gases in the past as occurred today. The gases were then exposed to continuous electric discharges from tungsten electrodes, representing lightning. The gases were circulated for one week then the liquid collected in the apparatus was analysed. The discharges had caused the gases to interact, forming a variety of amino acids and other organic compounds.

Urey and Miller 's experiment was conducted to test hypotheses about the origins of earth. The experiment proved that with an atmosphere of early earth, paired with a supply of energy (lightning), organic compounds can form. This gave enough evidence to change a…

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