Encyclopedia of Astrobiology

Living Edition
| Editors: Muriel Gargaud, William M. Irvine, Ricardo Amils, Henderson James Cleaves, Daniele Pinti, José Cernicharo Quintanilla, Michel Viso

Miller, Stanley

  • Stephane Tirard
Living reference work entry
DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-642-27833-4_997-3


In 1953, the young chemist, Stanley Miller (1930–2007), published in Science a paper entitled “A production of Amino Acids Under Possible Primitive Earth Conditions.” His work was based on Harold Urey’s assumption about the reducing composition of the primitive atmosphere as well as on Oparin’s and Bernal’s previous suggestions.

In an apparatus built to circulate a mixture of CH4, NH3, H2O, and H2 exposed to electric discharges during 1 week, he noticed the production of amino acids (glycine, α alanine, and β alanine).

Miller’s paper constituted one of the most important events in the history of the researches on the origins of life. Miller’s result found an important audience in the scientific community as well as in the public opinion. His discovery was said to be the first step of the process of origins of life in earth.

Along with Urey, Miller’s was considered as one of the main inventors of prebiotic chemistry. During at least two decades, his work influenced conceptions...


Twentieth Century Scientific Community Bioorganic Chemistry Public Opinion Electric Discharge 
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References and Further Reading

  1. Miller S (1953) A production of amino acids and possible primitive earth conditions. Science 117:528–529ADSCrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Centre François Viète d’Histoire des Sciences et des Techniques EA 1161Faculté des Sciences et des Techniques de NantesNantesFrance