Stanley Miller, a chemist who showed that, given the right conditions, simple organic compounds can form life, died this week at the age of 77 following a series of strokes.
Miller performed the experiment that made him famous at the age of 23. "At the end of one week, he had results. Here he is, 23 years old, and he's hit on a big one. In one week," his brother Donald Miller, a retired physical chemist from Livermore, Calif., told The Scientist. As a graduate student at the University of Chicago in the 1950s, Miller attended a seminar by the late Nobel laureate Harold Urey, who suggested that scientists could create life by combining organic compounds that were present on the primitive Earth. Miller was interested in trying this experiment, and he approached Urey after the talk. Urey discouraged him from pursuing the work, reasoning that...

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