About the amino acids of Stanley Miller’s experiment / Περί των αμινοξέων στο πείραμα του Stanley Miller

Jonathan Wells about the Miller experiment:

Obviously, the significance of Miller’s experiment—which to this day is still featured in many biology textbooks—hinges on whether he used an atmosphere that accurately simulated the environment of the early earth. At the time, Miller was relying heavily on the atmos­pheric theories of his doctoral advisor, Nobel laureate Harold Urey.

“What’s the best scientific assessment today?” I asked Wells. “Did Miller use the correct atmosphere or not?”

Wells leaned back in his chair. “Well, nobody knows for sure what the early atmosphere was like, but the consensus is that the atmos­phere was not at all like the one Miller used,” he began.

“Miller chose a hydrogen-rich mixture of methane, ammonia, and water vapor, which was consistent with what many scientists thought back then. But scientists don’t believe that anymore. As a geophysi­cist with the Carnegie Institution said in the 1960s, ‘What is the evi­dence for a primitive methane-ammonia atmosphere on earth? The answer is that there is no evidence for it, but much against it.

“By the mid-1970s, Belgian biochemist Marcel Florkin was declaring that the concept behind Miller’s theory of the early atmos­phere ‘has been abandoned.’  Two of the leading origin-of-life researchers, Klaus Dose and Sidney Fox, confirmed that Miller had used the wrong gas mixture. And Science magazine said in 1995 that experts now dismiss Miller’s experiment because ‘the early atmos­phere looked nothing like the Miller-Urey simulation.’”

I asked, “What’s the current thinking of scientists concerning the gas content of the early earth?”

“The best hypothesis now is that there was very little hydrogen in the atmosphere because it would have escaped into space. Instead, the atmosphere probably consisted of carbon dioxide, nitrogen, and water vapor,” Wells said. “So my gripe is that textbooks still present the Miller experiment as though it reflected the earth’s early environment, when most geochemists since the 1960s would say it was totally unlike Miller’s.”

I asked the next logical question: “What happens if you replay the experiment using an accurate atmosphere?

“I’ ll tell you this: you do not get amino acids, that’s for sure,” he replied. “Some textbooks fudge by saying, well, even if you use a real­istic atmosphere, you still get organic molecules, as if that solves the problem.”

Actually, that sounded promising. “Organic molecules?” I said. I’ m not a biochemist, but couldn’t those be precursors to life?”

Wells recoiled. “That’s what they sound like, but do you know what they are? Formaldehyde! Cyanide!” he declared, his voice ris­ing for emphasis. “They may be organic molecules, but in my lab at Berkeley you couldn’t even have a capped bottle of formaldehyde in the room, because the stuff is so toxic. You open the bottle and it fries proteins all over the place, just from the fumes. It kills embryos. The idea that using a realistic atmosphere gets you the first step in the origin of life is just laughable.

“Now, it’s true that a good organic chemist can turn formaldehyde and cyanide into biological molecules. But to suggest that formaldehyde and cyanide give you the right substrate for the origin of life,” he said, breaking into a chuckle, “Well, it’s a joke.”

He let the point sink in before delivering the clincher. “Do you know what you get?” he asked. “Embalming fluid!”

Lee Strobel, The case for a Creator, p. 37, 38.

***

Όπως υπέδειξε ο F. Cendrangolo τα βακτήρια που διείσδυσαν στο απροστάτευτο σύστημα του Stanley Miller μπορεί να ήταν η πηγή των αμινοξέων που παράχθηκαν στο σύστημα και νομίζει ότι μια επανάληψη είναι απαραίτητη.

A. E. Wilder-Smith, Καταγωγή και προορισμός του ανθρώπου, σελ. 20.

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