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Stanley Lloyd Miller

Birthplace: Oakland, Alameda County, California, United States
Death: May 20, 2007 (77)
National City, San Diego County, CA, United States
Immediate Family:

Son of Nathan Miller and Private
Partner of Private
Brother of Private

Managed by: Alex Bickle
Last Updated:
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Immediate Family

    • Private
    • Private
    • father
    • Private

About Stanley Miller

Stanley Lloyd Miller (March 7, 1930 – May 20, 2007) was an American chemist who made landmark experiments in the origin of life by demonstrating that a wide range of vital organic compounds can be synthesized by fairly simple chemical processes from inorganic substances. In 1952 he carried out the Miller–Urey experiment, which showed that complex organic molecules could be synthesised from inorganic precursors. The experiment was widely reported, and provided support for the idea that the chemical evolution of the early Earth had led to the natural synthesis of chemical building blocks of life from inanimate inorganic molecules. He has been described as the "father of prebiotic chemistry".

Miller, Stanley L. 1930-2007 (Stanley Lloyd Miller)

Born March 7, 1930, in Oakland, CA; died of heart failure, May 20, 2007, in National City, CA. Biochemist, educator, and author. Miller became famous in 1953 when he published a paper detailing how he had created amino acids, the first building blocks of life, in a laboratory experiment simulating early conditions on earth. A 1951 graduate of the University of California at Berkeley, he completed a Ph.D. at the University of Chicago in 1954. He spent the late 1950s teaching at Columbia University, then joined the faculty at the University of California at San Diego, La Jolla. He was named a full professor of chemistry in 1968 and spent the rest of his academic career at La Jolla. Fame came to Miller while he was still a graduate student. Looking for a project for his doctoral thesis, he got an idea after learning about Harold Urey's theories concerning earth's early atmosphere. Urey, who was on the faculty at UC San Diego, believed that there was no oxygen on earth billions of years ago, but that the atmosphere was mostly comprised of methane, hydrogen, ammonia, and water vapor. Combining these substances in the laboratory, Miller added electricity to simulate lightning. Within just a couple of days, he found that the mixture had created amino acids, an essential ingredient for the creation of life. Published in the journal Science in 1953, his experiment caused a sensation in the scientific community. Interestingly, that same year Francis Crick and James Watson announced their discovery of the structure for DNA. Miller, however, provided the first evidence that early life might have formed out of common chemicals and energy. Unfortunately, Miller and other scientists could never go beyond the point of creating amino acids. The next steps essential to life would be the creation of molecules such as RNA, DNA, and proteins, the building blocks for all life on earth. Miller spent the next decades of his life refining his early work. Other chemists, most notably Günter Wächtershäuser, challenged some of Miller's original assumptions about the conditions under which life formed on earth. Despite such problems, Miller's experiment is still considered a important landmark in the history of biochemistry. He wrote about his work in The Origins of Life on Earth (1973).

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Stanley Miller's Timeline

March 7, 1930
Oakland, Alameda County, California, United States
May 20, 2007
Age 77
National City, San Diego County, CA, United States