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published by the California Space Institute
This is a simulation of the classic 1953 experiment at the University of Chicago that changed how scientists studied the origin of life. Stanley Miller and Harold Urey designed an experiment that simulated hypothetical conditions thought at the time to be present on the early Earth, and tested for the occurrence of chemical origins of life. Four elements were present in the hypothetical "recipe": hydrogen, methane, water, and ammonia. The chemicals were all sealed inside a sterile array of glass tubes, then were subjected to electric charges. After a week, the ingredients interacted to form amino acids (the building block of proteins).

This simulation features an apparatus like the one used by Miller and Urey. Users add gases, add boiling water, initiate sparks, and empty the vacuum chamber. The ratios and sequence must correctly duplicate the original experiment, or you start over.

Also included: interviews with Stanley Miller in which he explains the experiment and describes how he came up with the idea.

Please note that this resource requires Flash.
Subjects Levels Resource Types
General Physics
- Properties of Matter
Other Sciences
- Chemistry
- Life Sciences
- Middle School
- High School
- Lower Undergraduate
- Informal Education
- Instructional Material
= Activity
= Interactive Simulation
- Audio/Visual
= Movie/Animation
Appropriate Courses Categories Ratings
- Physical Science
- Physics First
- Conceptual Physics
- Algebra-based Physics
- AP Physics
- Activity
- New teachers
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© 2000 California Space Institute
Stanley Miller experiment, abiogenesis, amino acids, biochemistry, building blocks of life, chemistry of life, evolution, life on Earth, life origin, origin of life, primordial soup, primordial soup
Record Cloner:
Metadata instance created August 22, 2011 by Caroline Hall
Record Updated:
August 18, 2020 by Lyle Barbato
Last Update
when Cataloged:
May 30, 2006
Other Collections:

AAAS Benchmark Alignments (2008 Version)

1. The Nature of Science

1B. Scientific Inquiry
  • 6-8: 1B/M1b. Scientific investigations usually involve the collection of relevant data, the use of logical reasoning, and the application of imagination in devising hypotheses and explanations to make sense of the collected data.

5. The Living Environment

5F. Evolution of Life
  • 9-12: 5F/H1. The basic idea of biological evolution is that the earth's present-day species are descended from earlier, distinctly different species.
  • 9-12: 5F/H8. Life on earth is thought to have begun as simple, one-celled organisms about four billion years ago. Once cells with nuclei developed about a billion years ago, increasingly complex multi-cellular organisms evolved.

11. Common Themes

11B. Models
  • 6-8: 11B/M4. Simulations are often useful in modeling events and processes.
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Record Link
AIP Format
(California Space Institute, La Jolla, 2000), WWW Document, (http://www.millerureyexperiment.com/).
Miller-Urey Experiment - Simulating the "Recipe of Life" (California Space Institute, La Jolla, 2000), <http://www.millerureyexperiment.com/>.
APA Format
Miller-Urey Experiment - Simulating the "Recipe of Life". (2006, May 30). Retrieved June 13, 2024, from California Space Institute: http://www.millerureyexperiment.com/
Chicago Format
California Space Institute. Miller-Urey Experiment - Simulating the "Recipe of Life". La Jolla: California Space Institute, May 30, 2006. http://www.millerureyexperiment.com/ (accessed 13 June 2024).
MLA Format
Miller-Urey Experiment - Simulating the "Recipe of Life". La Jolla: California Space Institute, 2000. 30 May 2006. 13 June 2024 <http://www.millerureyexperiment.com/>.
BibTeX Export Format
@misc{ Title = {Miller-Urey Experiment - Simulating the "Recipe of Life"}, Publisher = {California Space Institute}, Volume = {2024}, Number = {13 June 2024}, Month = {May 30, 2006}, Year = {2000} }
Refer Export Format

%T Miller-Urey Experiment - Simulating the "Recipe of Life" %D May 30, 2006 %I California Space Institute %C La Jolla %U http://www.millerureyexperiment.com/ %O application/flash

EndNote Export Format

%0 Electronic Source %D May 30, 2006 %T Miller-Urey Experiment - Simulating the "Recipe of Life" %I California Space Institute %V 2024 %N 13 June 2024 %8 May 30, 2006 %9 application/flash %U http://www.millerureyexperiment.com/

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Miller-Urey Experiment - Simulating the "Recipe of Life":

Covers the Same Topic As NOVA: How Did Life Begin?

An online interview with Harvard professor Andrew Knoll, who discusses how life evolved from fundamental chemical building blocks comprised of a handful of elements.

relation by Caroline Hall

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