|Stanley Lloyd Miller|
March 7, 1930|
Oakland, California, United States
|Died||May 20, 2007
National City, California, United States
|Institutions||University of Chicago|
|Doctoral advisor||Harold Urey|
|Doctoral students||Jeffrey Bada|
Stanley Lloyd Miller (March 7, 1930 – May 20, 2007) was an American chemist and biologist who is known for his studies into the origin of life, particularly the Miller experiment which demonstrated that organic compounds can be created by fairly simple chemical processes from inorganic substances. However, it has since been demonstrated that the conditions used for the experiment may not have been an accurate representation of the early Earth atmosphere.
Life and career 
Born in Oakland, California, he studied at University of California at Berkeley (earning his B.Sc. in 1951) and then at University of Chicago where he earned his Ph.D. in chemistry in 1954. While at Chicago, Miller was a student of Harold Urey.
Miller continued his research at California Institute of Technology (1954–1955) and then joined the department of biochemistry at Columbia University, New York where he worked for the next 5 years. He then returned to California where he was an assistant professor (1960–1962), associate professor (1962–1968), then full professor of chemistry at University of California at San Diego (from 1968).
His work dealt with the origin of life (and he was considered a pioneer in the field of exobiology), the natural occurrence of clathrate hydrates, and general mechanisms of anesthesia. He was a member of the National Academy of Science, and received the Oparin Medal. He was a participant in the pioneering Miller–Urey experiment. In the 1950s, Urey guessed that the early atmosphere of the Earth was probably like the atmosphere now present on Jupiter—i.e., rich in ammonia, methane, and hydrogen. Miller, working in his laboratory at the University of Chicago, demonstrated that when exposed to an energy source such as an electrical discharge, these compounds and water can react to produce amino acids essential for the formation of living matter: similar ideas had been suggested by Russian chemist Aleksandr Oparin and British scientist J.B.S. Haldane in the 1920s. Since then there have been objections that the early environment was possibly not as reducing as Miller and Urey assumed and Miller acknowledged this.
In 2008, researchers found the apparatus that Miller used in his early experiments and analyzed the material using more sensitive later techniques. The experiments included previously unreported simulations of other environments, such as gases released in volcanic eruptions. The later analysis turned up more amino acids and other compounds of interest.
In 1828 Friedrich Wöhler had shown that it is possible to synthesize urea. As urea is an organic molecule, many at the time thought it could only be made by living organisms. This led to recognition that there is no obvious difference between a physically produced and an organically produced molecule. Miller's experiment went slightly further by showing that basic biomolecules can be formed through simple physical processes, and that it was not impossible for the first stages of abiogenesis to have occurred on the early earth.
- Wade, Nicolas (May 23, 2007). "Stanley Miller, Who Examined Origins of Life, Dies at 77", The New York Times.
- "Stanley Lloyd Miller." Notable Scientists: From 1900 to the Present. Gale Group, 2001.
- Johnson AP, Cleaves HJ, Dworkin JP, Glavin DP, Lazcano A, Bada JL (2008). "The Miller Volcanic Spark Discharge Experiment". Science 322 (5900): 404. doi:10.1126/science.1161527. PMID 18927386.
- Parker ET, Cleaves HJ, Dworkin JP, Glavin DP, Callahan M, Aubrey A, Lazcano A, Bada, JL (2011). "Primordial synthesis of amines and amino acids in a 1958 Miller H2S-rich spark discharge experiment". Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. USA 108 (12): 5526–31. doi:10.1073/pnas.1019191108. PMC 3078417. PMID 21422282.
- Keim, Brandon (October 16, 2008). "Forgotten Experiment May Explain Origins of Life". Wired Magazine. Retrieved March 22, 2011.
- Steigerwald, Bill (October 16, 2008). "Volcanoes May Have Provided Sparks and Chemistry for First Life". NASA Goddard Space Flight Center. Retrieved March 22, 2011.
- 'Lost' Miller-Urey experiment created more of life's building blocks
- National Academy of Sciences Biographical Memoir