It was great to be contacted by Jason for a comment on a recent work of Criado-Reyes and collaborators (and therefore be within the first to see the article). This work shows how something basic and often ignored, i.e. glassware, can affect our interpretation and understanding of chemical processes. The impact is significant here.
In 1952, Stanley Miller and Harold Urey have conducted a rather simple experiment to validate 1930s primary abiogenesis hypothesis by Oparin and Haldane, stating that conditions on early Earth would promote reactions towards the chemical complexity and the emergence of life (i.e. against Pasteur’ theory of biogenesis that life can originate only from pre-existing life). In their setup, Stanley and Harold unknowingly and fortuitously included another important component — silicate surface of the flask, through this incorporating the effect of mineral surfaces, as postulated in 1949 by Bernal, into their famous experiment.
- Jason Arunn Murugesu, Glass flask catalysed famous Miller-Urey origin-of-life experiment, from 25th Oct 2021, the New Scientist.
- Criado-Reyes, J., Bizzarri, B.M., García-Ruiz, J.M. et al. The role of borosilicate glass in Miller–Urey experiment. Sci Rep 11, 21009 (2021). https://doi.org/10.1038/s41598-021-00235-4