Quantum Biology

I’m not sure when I first heard the term, but I’m starting to think that life is Nature’s “killer app.” That is, life finds a way to “showcase” what is possible within the laws of physics, often far surpassing what we can do with current technology. Photosynthesis is a good example. Our best photovoltaic cells are still playing catch-up with the efficiency of the humble spinach leaf. The source of this advantage appears to be, amazingly, that Mother Nature knows more quantum mechanics that we do. Or else, the random tinkering of evolution has hit on some pretty amazing systems. For example, Photosynthesis, Avian Magnetoreception, and possibly even the sense of smell (Olfaction) use quantum effects to greatly increase the efficiency of these processes, beyond what would be possible using classical mechanics along. Nature Physics has a review article (may require login) that summarizes the evidence to this effect.

Author: lnemzer

Associate Professor Nova Southeastern University

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