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Thread: How valid is miller-urey experiment & how close are we to replicating the RNA molecules in lab settings

  1. #1 How valid is miller-urey experiment & how close are we to replicating the RNA molecules in lab settings 
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    Hi ! I recently heard lot of controversies regarding the Miller-Urey experiment some even claiming that it was an utter failure. What do you guys here think about the validity about the experiment and also has it been successfully replicated in other labs ?


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    Brassica oleracea Strange's Avatar
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    I think it was useful as a proof of concept: some complex organic molecules can be created without needing living organisms.

    But it seems like everything else about it was wrong, based on current understanding. The conditions under which life appeared were probably very different from those. There have been a number of experiments and simulations done that are more closely based on what are now thought to have been likely conditions.

    (I can't say much more as I am just a casual reader of stuff regarding this subject. But I do think we will have a number of good, plausible theories soon.)


    ei incumbit probatio qui dicit, non qui negat
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    thanks if you know of any links where i could read up more about such experiments it would be very helpful ! but thanks again
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    The experiment itself was good, and useful.

    There are a few problems that it can not answer, eg. it didnt produce any RNA or DNA; or it producen racemic amino acids.

    So probably this is not the explanation, altho the experiment itself worked.
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  6. #5  
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    Quote Originally Posted by Angrilymad View Post
    Hi ! I recently heard lot of controversies regarding the Miller-Urey experiment some even claiming that it was an utter failure. What do you guys here think about the validity about the experiment and also has it been successfully replicated in other labs ?
    After Miller's death, sealed containers of "goo" produced in the classic experiment were discovered and retested with modern equipment. A greater variety of organic compounds was discovered than originally reported. In that sense, the Miller-Urey experiment was more successful than originally believed.

    As Strange says, the experiment should be properly regarded as a proof of concept, not a 1:1 model of abiogenesis on earth. Miller and Urey's assumptions of what the primordial atmosphere looked like have been greatly amended in subsequent years. What's interesting is that when these assumptions are updated and the expereiments re-run, one finds that you still get a rich organic soup. In that sense, the Miller-Urey experiment remains generally valid, despite the specific model of the early environment being wrong.

    That the experimental outcomes seem not terribly sensitive to wide variations in initial conditions bodes well for those hoping to find extraterrestrial life.
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  7. #6  
    Brassica oleracea Strange's Avatar
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    Wikipedia seems to have a good overview of current hypotheses: Abiogenesis - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

    I still like the deep sea vent hypothesis.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Angrilymad View Post
    thanks if you know of any links where i could read up more about such experiments it would be very helpful ! but thanks again

    You can read this study (Cleaves, H.J. et al., 2008), it cites several papers reporting results from similar experiments:
    The results presented here extend previous reports and demonstrate that neutral atmospheres can provide biochemical monomers in much higher yield than previously thought. While the Earth may have harbored a reducing atmosphere very early in its history, neutral conditions likely soon prevailed (...). We have shown here that contrary to previous findings, significant amounts of amino acids can be produced under these conditions.

    The experiment set up by Miller and Urey was not a failure. It has been repeated and the conditions have been adjusted in the face of new evidence.
    "The only safe rule is to dispute only with those of your acquaintance of whom you know that they possess sufficient intelligence and self-respect not to advance absurdities; to appeal to reason and not to authority, and to listen to reason and yield to it; and, finally, to be willing to accept reason even from an opponent, and to be just enough to bear being proved to be in the wrong."

    ~ Arthur Schopenhauer, The Art of Being Right: 38 Ways to Win an Argument (1831), Stratagem XXXVIII.
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  9. #8  
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    Quote Originally Posted by Strange View Post
    I still like the deep sea vent hypothesis.
    Likewise.
    Meteorologist/Naturalist & Retired Soldier
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  10. #9  
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    thank you all ! I really appreciate this ! I wanted links because i have friend who is hell bent on proving me that the Miller-Urey experiment is a failure and that we haven't yet created any form of life ( however simple it may be ) in lab settings, in fact we are no where near close to doing it . He keeps sending me links. I just wanted to send him some counter links, but obviously i am going to read it too ! Anyways thanks a lot. Any more links to videos, conversations, scientific papers and articles are welcome !
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  11. #10  
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    Quote Originally Posted by Angrilymad View Post
    i have friend who is hell bent on proving me that the Miller-Urey experiment is a failure
    Probably best answer there was "it wasn't a very accurate experiment, but later experiments were far more accurate and produced similar results."

    and that we haven't yet created any form of life ( however simple it may be ) in lab settings, in fact we are no where near close to doing it .
    =================
    News Release

    Scripps Research Scientists Develop First Examples of RNA that Replicates Itself Indefinitely Without Any Help from Biology

    Findings Could Inform Biochemical Questions about How Life Began


    LA JOLLA, CA, January 8, 2009—One of the most enduring questions is how life could have begun on Earth. Molecules that can make copies of themselves are thought to be crucial to understanding this process as they provide the basis for heritability, a critical characteristic of living systems. Now, a pair of Scripps Research Institute scientists has taken a significant step toward answering that question. The scientists have synthesized for the first time RNA enzymes that can replicate themselves without the help of any proteins or other cellular components, and the process proceeds indefinitely.

    The work was published on Thursday, January 8, 2008, in Science Express, the advanced, online edition of the journal Science.
    ==============
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  12. #11  
    Brassica oleracea Strange's Avatar
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    And there is this: BBC News - 'Artificial life' breakthrough announced by scientists

    So, step by step, we are getting there.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Angrilymad View Post
    thank you all ! I really appreciate this ! I wanted links because i have friend who is hell bent on proving me that the Miller-Urey experiment is a failure and that we haven't yet created any form of life ( however simple it may be ) in lab settings, in fact we are no where near close to doing it . He keeps sending me links.

    Is there a specific purpose behind his attempts to refute the Miller-Urey experiment?
    "The only safe rule is to dispute only with those of your acquaintance of whom you know that they possess sufficient intelligence and self-respect not to advance absurdities; to appeal to reason and not to authority, and to listen to reason and yield to it; and, finally, to be willing to accept reason even from an opponent, and to be just enough to bear being proved to be in the wrong."

    ~ Arthur Schopenhauer, The Art of Being Right: 38 Ways to Win an Argument (1831), Stratagem XXXVIII.
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    I really don't know, to tell you the truth why he is against it. He just is.

    I am actually pretty much aware of the fact that the life forms we are talking about here are a very much simple and basic life forms far different from the complex and variety of life forms we see currently on earth. Some even have hard time believing that RNA can considered as living and will only be satisfied when they see something crawl out of the flask and for some it would be when we create a first living cell in lab settings. However the basic building blocks of proteins and nucleic acids found at the end of Miller-Urey experiments is enough for me. Because as Dwakins put it in his book The Selfish Gene " who cares whether we call it living or not".

    Also i must add i don't have much of Scientific background. So i have been trying to read up what scientists like Leslie Orgel and Dawkins have been saying about how life originated on earth.
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    Also i must say i am really surprised that on youtube there aren't much interviews with Leslie Orgel.
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  16. #15  
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    Quote Originally Posted by Angrilymad View Post
    Also i must add i don't have much of Scientific background. So i have been trying to read up what scientists like Leslie Orgel and Dawkins have been saying about how life originated on earth.

    How life originated on Earth, is still open to debate. Many scientists have offered different explanations and some of these have a decent amount of scientific evidence. It is advisable to focus on the hypotheses, rather than the scientists, because hypotheses are built up and modified by various scientists (e.g. the Miller-Urey experiment was repeated multiple times since the 1950s, cf. post #7).

    You might want to take a look at the Further Reading section (post #4) in this thread.
    "The only safe rule is to dispute only with those of your acquaintance of whom you know that they possess sufficient intelligence and self-respect not to advance absurdities; to appeal to reason and not to authority, and to listen to reason and yield to it; and, finally, to be willing to accept reason even from an opponent, and to be just enough to bear being proved to be in the wrong."

    ~ Arthur Schopenhauer, The Art of Being Right: 38 Ways to Win an Argument (1831), Stratagem XXXVIII.
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