16 October 2008

Stanley Miller: what a legend

Of all the stories I've covered in the last few months, this (excuse shameless self promotion) has got to be the most exciting. It turns out Stanley Miller, the guy who did all the prebiotic soup experiments (come on, you must remember those from biology classes... spark in a flask creating origins of life?), was a compulsive hoarder. He died last year and left a load of boxes in his lab, full of vials... Wait, it gets interesting... I spoke to the scientist who inherited all these boxes just the other day and he told me how he came across some of the original vials full of prebiotic soup - except all crusty and dried out, obviously.

Well, I was pretty thrilled... in a geeky kind of way. I mean, I read about Stanley Miller when I was at school. This man is a bit of a legend in scientific terms. It's exciting, huh?

Anyway, they did actually find some important stuff in these vials, stuff that ol' Stanley failed to notice, it seems, the upshot of it all being... oh, look just read it on Chemistry World. I'm going to get in trouble for retelling it all here... But the main point is: I spoke to the guy that Stanley Miller - the actual famous Stanley Miller from biology text books - mentored. Ha. And I love the fact that he kept all that stuff. Apparently he also kept a vial of cyanide frozen for quarter of a century. And then published a paper on it. Tut, scientists, eh?