Volcanoes might have played a crucial role in kick-starting life on Earth, according to new results from an old experiment that sat on the shelf for more than 50 years.
Chemists Harold Urey and Stanley Miller performed a landmark experiment in 1953 intended to mimic the primordial conditions that created the first amino acids, by exposing a mix of gases to a lightning-like electrical discharge.
Five years later, Miller performed another variation on this experiment - by adding hydrogen sulphide, a gas spewed out by volcanoes, to the mix, Sify reports.
One of Dr Miller's former students, Jeffrey Bada, who is currently a Professor of Marine Chemistry at San Diego-based Scripps Institution of Oceanography, analysed the residue samples from the original 1958 experiment and found that Dr Miller was the first scientist to synthesise sulphur-containing amino acids. Prof Bada found 23 amino acids and 4 amines in Dr Miller's discarded samples.
Dr Miller, gained worldwide recognition for his earliest work in 1953, passed away in 2007, according to TopNews New Zealand.