Quantum Weirdness in Life, Quantum Biology

Light as a waveQuantum mechanics is a successful and accurate description of nature at the microcosmic level.  Its existence allows for the development of lasers, transistors and virtually all of our high tech gadgets.

Because it does not permit a direct cause and effect determination of exactly what will happen, rather being based on a statistical view with many different possible outcomes, optimists wonder if this flexibility could help explain free will in a molecular universe.

Quantum mechanics has many weird counter intuitive properties:

  1. Superposition, for example, suggests that all future possibilities about a piece of matter exist at the same moment in a mathematical form called the wave function.
  2. Entanglement

    Coherence is a state where all parts of a system stay in perfect sync without any clear mechanism.

  3. Entanglement allows two particles to be forever connected such that changing one changes the other instantly, no matter the amount of separation.
  4. Tunneling assumes that matter is both a particle and a wave.  Matter’s waviness allows its exact place to be smudged such that parts of it could be on both sides of a barrier at the same time. This allows particles to seemingly sneak through barriers, like slithering through wormholes, to get around energy and material obstacles.

Our Role in Quantum Mechanics

There are aspects of this weirdness that some believe necessitates the presence of a conscious observer as an integral part of the universe, and this spawns consciousness theories.

An observer, for example, affects the outcome of experiments, as to whether light is functioning as a wave or a particle.

Also, the wave function (mentioned above as part of superposition) only gives a specific reading on where a particle is when an observer questions its location.

There have been theories relating quantum effects to brain function and mind, but they have all been severely criticized because it has never been possible to prove quantum effects in the world of biology.

… Until Now!

Quantum Mechanics in Plants and Birds

Very recent evidence shows quantum mechanisms in both the algae and bacterial forms of photosynthesis. Photosynthesis, one of the most important reactions in life, is how plants use sunlight, Co2 and water to make organic material.

Photosynthesis

The photosynthesis process uses an extremely complex set of molecules. When light randomly hits one of the many antennae molecules of the system, electrons become excited and very efficiently jump between many large proteins to find their way to the reaction center. Because of superposition and coherence the electrons instantly know all the possible routes, and are able to choose the fastest and most efficient one.  This instantaneous intelligent process is perhaps the reason that photosynthesis is so effective in producing energy for life.

Another recently discovered quantum effect in biology is present in a birds’ navigation magnetic sensor, in the eye. Light hits the sensor that creates an entangled pair of electrons, one of which is affected by the earth’s magnetic field. The electrons fluctuate as a pair between different states, creating a molecule that directs the flight.

 Quantum Enzyme Catalysis

Cellular enzyme function is extremely efficient and cannot be explained with conventional chemical theories.  A major complication is that proteins have different effects as their shapes fluctuate.  A significant quantum effect in biology involves cellular enzyme reactions where protons use quantum tunneling to move from one molecule to another as the protein shape changes.  This favors some processes by making the reaction much easier than having to overcome conventional chemical interaction energy barriers.

This field of quantum biology is just beginning with these discoveries.

Since quantum effects are now seen in organisms, what are the effects in the neuron and the brain?  

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  • It seems like quantum mechanics can be a way to transport information in some form through an extremely complex network. In networks like the brain, the internet, or Boston traffic at 5pm, the fastest way from point A to point B is not always a straight line. The really interesting thing about possible electron entanglement in the brain is that it adds another network layer to the communication system, allowing for a truly instantaneous transfer of information.

    • Anonymous

      Future posts in section eight, Where is the Mind?, will be describing a number of theories about how this quantum communication occurs in the brain. For now, please check out the books in resources, Section Eight, Where is the mind, especially Stapp, The Mindful Universe, and Penrose, Consciousness and the Universe.

  • MANZELLI

    Please see the Project quARte in Quantum Art and Science in Facebook . The quARte project is based on teh new alchemy of the quantum Brain Theory. see http://www.nanopaprika.eu/forum/topics/quantum-brain-and-nano-synapses?commentId=1612324%3AComment%3A228276
    Paolo Manzelli pmanzelli.lre@gmail.com

  • MANZELLI

    Please see and collaborate with quARTe Program of conceptual change see : https://www.facebook.com/groups/431161846963599/ to develop quantum science and art and augmented reality by means givin adhesion to “quARte” program of contemporarily creativity .

    In synteses of quantum Brain work at the synapses thro quantum entanglement effect. So that the new alchemy resides in the quantum brain theory . It is well known that creativity is a function of synaptogenesis that gives neuro-plasticity to the brain . Nowadays it is important to know that the cleft at the neurological synapses are about 20/40 nanometers and at this dimensions works the quantum effects in the brain communications. These quantum effects are cause by the superposition, of orbital wave functions of bond elections of neurotransmitters closed between the synapses. This superposition of electron-clauds generate the quantum entanglement change in the information communication of the brain from a linear sequence to a coherent spread of a communication field, that permits that all parts of the quantum brain system stay in perfect synchronism of activities. As a matter of facts electron entanglement at the synapses allows the wave functions to be forever connected such that changing one changes the other instantly, in all the information energy field created the synaptic cleft separation, that work as a quantum tunnelling without barriers to spread in the quantum brain the informational signals. Paolo Manzelli 24th SEPT-2013 FIRENZE