Today's paper's obituaries brought the news of Stanley Miller's passing. Miller's experiment with Harold Urey is notable for many reasons. First, it sparked the whole field of abiogenesis, and second it is recognizable to many persons outside of biology or chemistry. Indeed, there used to be a video at the National Air & Space Museum of Julia Child running the experiment, cooking primordial soup (I think the video can be found in some libraries). Miller's experiment did not prove abiogenesis, nor did it prove a particular model, but it did demonstrate that interestingly complex organic compounds could be generated from simple processes that might have existed on a pre-life Earth. Indeed, it is the fact that Miller's work stimultated debate & testing about what the prebiotic Earth was or was not like, the hallmark of good science on the outer fringe.
The obituary also noted that Miller's thesis advisor, Nobel Laureate Harold Urey, insisted that he be sole author on the paper. I've always known this as the Miller-Urey experiment, but that was awfully gracious of a senior scientist, and a model not always followed. At my department at Harvard there was a story of a graduate student whose defense was snubbed by his advisor due to a dispute about failing to include the advisor on a submitted paper.
I've been meaning to note one other passing of a great pioneer. In The Right Stuff, there is a scene of the potential Mercury astronauts enduring an exhalation test, and at the end only Scott Carpenter & John Glenn are still blowing bubbles. That is now the case in real life with the passing of Wally Schirra. Schirra was notorious as a jokester, but it is also notable that when it came time to name his capsule, he picked Sigma 7, for the letter's relevance to math, science & engineering. His sigma was indeed spectacular, splashing down within sight of his recovery craft. As a kid I never understood why Schirra retired just before he would have had a lock on a slot to go to the moon. As an adult, I can begin to fathom how exhausting all the training was.