Monday, March 25, 2013
Sidney W. Fox
Fox's biochemical research dealt with the study of the origin of life. Fox's research showed that amino acids, when subjected to heat, will spontaneously form polypeptide compounds, Fox dubbed proteinoids (the earlier Miller-Urey experiment had shown that amino acids could have been generated by conditions of the Earth's primordial atmosphere). Fox hypothesized that these poly-amino acid molecules could be the origin the protein molecules that make up living things. When put into water or salt solution these proteinoids form microspheres, that are one or two microns in diameter. These microspheres behave like cellular membranes, budding off and forming new microspheres. Fox believed that these proteinoid microspheres were the origin of bacterial cell walls. Fox's proteinoid theory for the origin of life has its detractors, who believe that concentrations of the particular amino acids that Fox used in his experiments could not have been present in the primordial environment. Fox was one of the first scientists to examine moon rocks brought back to Earth by NASA.
Fox died on August 10, 1998 in Mobile, Alabama.
Daintith, John; "Fox, Sydney Walter" in Biographical Encyclopedia of Scientists, Third Edition; CRC Press; 2010
"Sydney W Fox, Analyzed First Moon Rocks"; Los Angeles Times; August 18, 1998
Sydney W. Fox Wikipedia Entry