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A classic experiment proving amino acids are created when inorganic molecules are exposed to electricity isn't the whole story, it turns out. The 1953 Miller-Urey Synthesis had two sibling studies, neither of which was published. Vials containing the products from those experiments were recently recovered and reanalyzed using modern technology. The results are reported in this week's Science.
One of the unpublished experiments by American chemist Stanley Miller (under his University of Chicago mentor, Nobelist Harold Urey) actually produced a wider variety of organic molecules than the experiment that made Miller famous. The difference between the two experiments is small -- the unpublished experiment used a tapering glass "aspirator" that simply increased air flow through a hollow, air-tight glass device. Increased air flow creates a more dynamic reaction vessel, or "vapor-rich volcanic" conditions, according to the present report's authors....