Life On The Edge: The Coming Of Age Of Quantum Biology Books Pdf File
Quantum Biology in a NutshellIf I was to define quantum biology, it is not what many people might think, that at the very deepest level, if you look into a living system, a living cell, down to the level of the molecules and atoms then you hit the quantum world, because that would be true for life as well as for inanimate matter, where the quantum rules kick in. Quantum biology, as we define it today, means exploring the mechanisms and phenomena that rely on non-trivial quantum effects within living cells. By non-trivial I mean quantum tunnelling, long lived quantum coherence and superposition, quantum entanglement. These are surprising effects that we are now seeing taking place within living organisms. That is quantum biology.  
Life On The Edge: The Coming Of Age Of Quantum Biology Books Pdf File
We tend to think about quantum biology as being quite a new area of interdisciplinary science and in many ways it is. But actually it has rather old origins, going all the way back to the early 1930s. In fact we can even trace it back to a particular lecture that Niels Bohr gave at a conference in 1929. He hinted at the idea, as many quantum pioneers were doing back then, that maybe quantum mechanics holds the key to so much of science and the fact that quantum mechanics, in their opinion, solved the problems of physics and chemistry, they arrogantly then assumed that it could also be used to tackle the mystery of life itself. Bohr was one of these early quantum pioneers, who suggested that maybe quantum mechanics could play a role. He inspired other physicists, particularly people like Max Delbrück, who then actually changed field and became a biophysicist working in molecular biology and also Pascual Jordan.
The one thing that we have to remember is that quantum mechanics and then developing in quantum field theory and so on was developing in parallel with the new areas of biology, genetics and molecular biology. The geneticists and molecular biologists by the 1930s and 1940s and indeed 1950s, when the double helix structure was discovered, really felt they had no need for quantum mechanics, they were so successful. They were learning so much about the molecular structure within living systems. They saw no requirement to bring in the strangeness of quantum mechanics. So to a large extent quantum biology really sort of went into the background. Particularly after the discovery of the double helix of DNA, spectroscopists and molecular biologists really were learning so much more about the building blocks of the cell, the instruction manual of life, they had no room for quantum superposition and the measurement problem, the uncertainty principle, and on all that silly business, they would leave that to physicists.
Studying these phenomena in quantum biology of course is more than just intellectual curiosity. If we think about some of the big areas that are funded in research today, particularly here in the UK, I can think of two, one is quantum technologies, the idea of utilising some of the non-trivial quantum mechanics to develop new instruments and new techniques and so on, new sensors. A lot of money is going to quantum technologies and has nothing to do with biology. On the other hand you have synthetic biology, developing machines that rely on the machinery of life. Quantum biology is somehow the bridge, I argue, between synthetic biology and quantum technologies. If some of these mechanisms that we are now seeing in living systems like long lived coherence in photosynthesis like quantum tunnelling in DNA, if they turn out to be true and, it is not magic, life has had nearly 4 billion years to perfect all its trickery, if utilising the rules of the quantum world gave life an advantage over classical rules it would have used them. So therefore, can we learn, if life has figured out some of these tricks, can we learn from life and develop our own ideas? Will this have a bearing on the work in developing quantum computers? Will it have a bearing on work developing new quantum magnetic sensors? So there are all sorts of technologies that might be advanced, maybe developing new types of photovoltaic cells, if plants and bacteria in their photosynthesis have used a very clever trick from the quantum world maybe we can copy that to help our advances in our technologies.
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