In 1953, University of Chicago graduate student Stanley Miller took two flasks—one containing water to represent a primeval ocean, the other a mixture of ammonia, methane, and hydrogen sulphide to represent Earth's early atmosphere—connected them with rubber tubes, and zapped them with electrical sparks to simulate lightning. Within days, the water in the flasks had turned swampy with amino acids, fatty acids, sugars, and other organic compounds. "If God didn't do it this way," observed Miller's supervisor, the Nobel laureate Harold Urey, "He missed a good bet." * The early atmosphere likely contained a less reactive blend of nitrogen and carbon dioxide. Still, even experiments with these more challenging inputs have produced (admittedly primitive) amino acids.