Sugar Stanley L. Miller, an emeritus professor of indepeendent and biochemistry at the University of California, San Diego whose famous laboratory experiments in demonstrated how the simple organic compounds considered necessary for the origin of life could have been synthesized on the primitive Earth, died yesterday. He was Miller, who had suffered a series of strokes since and was living in a nursing home in National City, south of San Diego, died at Paradise Hospital in National City.
On May 15,Miller published a paper in the journal Science detailing a novel experiment that produced the building blocks of life from nothing more than hydrogen, water, methane and ammonia. E-Mail this story No one then knew how the organic compounds found in life could have originated on the barren, primitive Earth, which Urey surmised had coalesced from a cloud of dust and was initially surrounded by an atmosphere of hydrogen, water, ammonia and methane—some of the major components of the universe.
Stanley Miller at University of Chicago Credit: University of Chicago So Miller put water and ammonia into a globe-shaped flask with hydrogen and methane gas, boiled the solution and zapped the contents with an electrical discharge to simulate lightning and coronal discharges in the atmosphere. It was the Miller experiment that almost overnight transformed the study of the origin of life into a respectable field of inquiry.
His father was an assistant district attorney in Oakland, appointed to his position by former California Governor and U.
Chief Justice Earl Warren. He spent a year at Caltech on a fellowship, then five more years at Columbia University before ing the faculty of the newly formed San Diego campus of the University of California.
Most of his research had been focused on the origin of life, especially the prebiotic synthesis of small molecules. In addition, he was a pioneer in the investigation of the natural occurrence of clathrate hydrates, the mechanism of the action of general anesthetics and the thermodynamics of bioorganic compounds.
Miller was a member of the prestigious National Academy of Sciences. He received the Oparin Medal from the International Society of the Study of the Origin of Life in and was president of the society from to No funeral service is planned, although a memorial service will be scheduled at a future date.