One of the classic experiments in biology was the Miller-
Urey experiment, where they brewed up a sterile broth
simple chemicals believed (then) to be present on the
earth, and zapped it with tame lightning. The aim was
see if any life-like molecules would arise
and, lo and
gadulka, they did. Amino acids and other molecules
associated with life were created.
Many similar experiments have been done, with various
recipes, and usually without the lightning. The general
argument is that, if a litre of brew can produce
biomolecules after a short time, then that's a possible
indication of how the earliest life could have arisen,
vastly greater space and time in which to arise.
However, none of these experiments has produced life.
Nor, given the necessarily small scale of these
experiments, is it likely to.
MaxCo. is therefore proposing to implement these
experiments on a far larger scale.
Consider the humble tin of Oxtail Soup. It already
a rich concoction of complex biomolecules and, after
sterilization, may spend weeks or months sitting around
comfortable temperatures with very little to do.
If life can arise in the way generally suggested, it seems
almost uninevitable that some sort of life would appear,
sooner or later, in one of the billions of tins of soups
sitting around on shelves throughout the world.
Sadly, such spontaneous life may have arisen many times
the history of canned soup, but been will have gone
unreported and, quite possibly, unnoticed.
We are therefore proposing to modify existing soup-tins
facilitate the detection of primitive life. Many possible
life-forms will create some form of gaseous emission as
part of their biological processes. Therefore, soup tins
be made with a small pop-up dimple in their lids. The
dimple will have to be held down while the tins are
heat-sterilised, to avoid being popped by the hot soup
vapour; thereafter, however, any up-popping will be a
strong indicator of soup-based life.
As a further indicator, the rim of the can will be printed
with indicator chemicals responding to pHs different
those of the normal product. As the soup is decanted, a
colour change will indicate whether any untoward, and
probably biological, processes have taken place.
Approximately 4 billion cans of Oxtail Soup are sold per
year, and doubtless Scotch broth, chicken soup and
could be used. That probably adds up to ten billion
or more, of Miller-Urey experiments per year.
Some of the current models of the origin of life involve
sequestration or adsorbtion of key molecules on the
surfaces of clay particles. I am pretty sure that a few
milligrams of powdered clay will not interfere with the
consumer's enjoyment of the soup.
It could be argued that oxtail soup does not accurately
reflect the composition of the primordial seas, and I
find it hard to refute such an argument.
if spontaneous life were detected in soup, it would surely
bolster claims that it could have arisen by similar
in some fortunate rock-pool or oceanic vent.