Alexander Ivanovich Oparin (1894-1980)
Oparin was a Soviet biochemist, an expert on plants, who became famous for being the author of a 70-page booklet called The Origin of Life, written in 1924. He wondered whether it was possible that molecules made out of carbon, hydrogen, oxygen and nitrogen could have arisen before the existence of life and caused the appearance of the very first cells. Three decades later, Oparin’s ideas bore fruit when Stanley Miller, then a graduate student at the University of Chicago, demonstrated with a series of experiments, that it was possible to synthesize amino acids from inorganic precursors.
Since Oparin had been the first to suggest a plausible solution to the origin of life, he became a Soviet hero. He joined the prestigious Academy of Sciences of the USSR, received numerous awards and medals and all of his books have been translated into many languages. He even received treatment as Head of State in the Soviet Union.