Quantum life: The weirdness inside us
"Indeed, when he wrote his 1944 book What is Life?, he speculated that living organisms would do everything they could to block out the fuzziness of quantum physics."
.. a deterrent .. detracts us .. from being .. what our structures ought to be ..
.. filtering out .. quantum weirdness ..
"Is that plausible? We have around 400 differently shaped smell receptors, but can recognise around 100,000 smells, implying some nifty computation to combine signals from different receptors and process them into distinct smells."
400 receptors .. 100,000 smells .. nifty computation .. quantum computing ..
"There is an alternative explanation. Around 70 years ago, even before the lock-and-key mechanism was suggested, the distinguished British chemist Malcolm Dyson suggested that, just as the brain constructs colours from different vibrational frequencies of light radiation, it interprets the characteristic frequencies at which certain molecules vibrate as a catalogue of smells."
.. molecule vibration .. frequencies .. waves ..
"The idea languished in obscurity until 1996, when Luca Turin, a biophysicist then at University College London, proposed a mechanism that might make vibrational sensing work: electron tunnelling. This phenomenon results from the basic fuzziness of quantum mechanics, and is a staple of devices from microchips to microscopes. When an electron is confined in an atom, it does not have an exactly defined energy but has a spread of possible energies. That means there is a certain probability that it will simply burrow through the energy barrier that would normally prevent it escaping the atom."
.. a spread of possible energies .. superposition ..afforded .. min ..max .. if such terms apply .. extend beyond energy barrier .. what is witnessed as .. burrow .. a normal consequence of its state .. superposed states ..
superposition cancelled .. electrons can not escape .. out of their nuclear trajectories .. atoms remain intact .. the world is safe .. it will not disintegrate .. obliterate .. the probability .. small .. very small .. tiny
"Turin's idea is that when an odorous molecule lodges in the pocket of a receptor, an electron can burrow right through that molecule from one side to the other, unleashing a cascade of signals on the other side that the brain interprets as a smell. That can only happen if there is an exact match between the electron's quantised energy level and the odorant's natural vibrational frequency. "The electron can only move when all the conditions are met," Turin says. The advantage, though, is that it creates a smell without the need for an exact shape fit."
.. exact match .. electron's quantised energy level .. and .. odorant's natural vibrational frequency .. resonate .. blending through .. a condition .. a path .. a tunnel open .. quantum energy level ..wave ..its frequency exact match with odorant molecule's frequency .. the carrier wave .. within the superposed range of energies of the electron ..extending the reach .. to where the electron burrows .. taking it right through the odored molecule ..
"And in January this year Turin, now at the Alexander Fleming Biomedical Sciences Research Centre in Vari, Greece, and his colleagues delivered what looks like evidence for vibrational sensing. They showed that fruit flies can distinguish between two types of acetophenone, a common base for perfumes, when one contains normal hydrogen and the other contains heavier deuterium. Both forms have the same shape, but vibrate at different frequencies (Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, DOI: 10.1073/pnas.1012293108). That sensitivity can only mean electron tunnelling, says Andrew Horsfield of Imperial College London, a co-author on Brookes's paper: in classical models of electron flow the electron would not be sensitive to the vibrational frequency. "You can't explain it without the quantum aspect."
acetophenone .. C6H5C(O)CH3 .. fruit flies distinguish between normal hydrogen and heavier deuterium types .. different vibrational frequencies .. classical electron flow .. electron energies restricted to their quantised energy level .. can not explain the phenomenon .. whereas electrons with energies spread within a range beyond the restricting energy level .. are able to 'tell' the difference between the normal and deuterium acetophone molecules, to distinguish them out of their different vibrational frequencies ..
"Vedral thinks this is because it depends on the quality of "superposition" which allows the sort of quantum-mechanical wave that describes electrons to be in two places at once. He reckons quantum omnipresence might speed the electrons' passage through the reaction chain. "If you could show superposition is there and it's somehow also important for the electron flow, that would be very interesting," he says."
.. quantum omnipresence .. what a delightful thought .. electrons superposition afforded .. omnipresence
"This is a trick we might like to learn from. Although photosynthesis is not particularly efficient overall, the initial stage of converting incoming photons into the energy of electrons within a photosynthesising organism's light-gathering pigment molecules is extremely effective. When sunlight is weak, plants are able to translate more than 90 per cent of photons into an energy-carrying electron; in strong sunlight plants have to dump about half the energy to avoid overheating."
.. sunlight weak, plants take more than 90 per cent of photons into an energy-carrying electron .. extremely efficient .. when light is weak .. but in strong sunlight it creates so much energy ..that the plant risks its very own survival .. dumps energy .. the mechanism developed does not suit its structure .. the plant's physiology unsuitable ..
it can not manage .. too much light .. possibly today's dominant plant species .. evolved in an era with conditions with very little light .. a sky obscured with dust .. possibly because of the meteorite that fell upon earth and caused the extinction of dinosaurs .. today's plants ..biologically challenged ..
"Scholes's explanation for this is that when sunlight hits electrons, they are kicked into a quantum superposition that allows them to be in two places at once. That effectively "wires" light-gathering molecules to the reaction centre where the photosynthesis takes place for a few hundred femtoseconds. During that time, an electron can, according to quantum rules, take all paths between the two places simultaneously. Probing the process more closely causes the superposition to collapse - and reveals the electron to have taken the path that lost it the least energy."
.. quantum superposition .. and its quality referred to ..earlier .. quality ..out of quantity .. the quantity of light present .. strong light floods superposition ..machine .. electrons .. highly energetic .. superposition thus controlled .. probabilities increased .. probability to burrow through an energy barrier .. increased .. tunnelling occurs .. and it occurs in the most effective way possible .. has taken the path that lost the least energy ..
superposition ..machine .. "wires" .. light gathering molecules .. their vibrational frequencies .. exact matches .. with the quantised electron energies .. of the electrons engaged in electron transfer complex .. as in odorant molecules .. spread electron energies .. electron tunnelling "wires" ..
a superposition 'channel' .. built to fulfil the purpose .. of transferring .. the most of the energy captured .. to the reaction centre .. with the least loss