How Quantum Mechanics Might Govern Life on Earth
Previously limited to explaining the behavior of subatomic particles, quantum mechanics may govern biological life and be selected for by evolution, says cosmologist Paul Davies.
What's the Latest Development?
Some scientists are beginning to believe that quantum mechanics determine macroscopic biological functions such as bird migration and our sense of smell. "Mounting evidence now suggests birds may be relying on quantum entanglement—the strange ability of particles to share properties even when separated, so that if an action is performed on one, the other feels its consequences. Scientists think the process is made possible by a protein inside birds' eye cells called cryptochrome." The change in opinion is significant because, until recently, the quantum laws that describe how subatomic particles behave were thought to be too strange to apply to biological processes.
What's the Big Idea?
Arizona State University cosmologist Paul Davies believes evolution may have selected for quantum laws that confer benefits on individual species. "Life has been around for a long time—3.5 billion years on this planet at least—and there's plenty of time to learn some quantum trickery if it confers an advantage," he said. Davies also believes that quantum mechanics can help explain how life arose from inanimate elements: "Life is clearly a distinctive state of matter. What we would like to know is if that distinctiveness is fundamentally quantum mechanical." Others remains skeptical and say that just because life is strange and quantum mechanics are strange, the two are not necessarily related in an intimate way.
Photo credit: Shutterstock.com
Swipe right to make the connections that could change your career.
Swipe right. Match. Meet over coffee or set up a call.
No, we aren't talking about Tinder. Introducing Shapr, a free app that helps people with synergistic professional goals and skill sets easily meet and collaborate.
The Oxfam report prompted Anand Giridharadas to tweet: "Don't be Pinkered into everything's-getting-better complacency."
- A new report by Oxfam argues that wealth inequality is causing poverty and misery around the world.
- In the last year, the world's billionaires saw their wealth increase by 12%, while the poorest 3.8 billion people on the planet lost 11% of their wealth.
- The report prompted Anand Giridharadas to tweet: "Don't be Pinkered into everything's-getting-better complacency." We explain what Steven Pinker's got to do with it.
Evolution doesn't clean up after itself very well.
- An evolutionary biologist got people swapping ideas about our lingering vestigia.
- Basically, this is the stuff that served some evolutionary purpose at some point, but now is kind of, well, extra.
- Here are the six traits that inaugurated the fun.
- Facebook and Google began as companies with supposedly noble purposes.
- Creating a more connected world and indexing the world's information: what could be better than that?
- But pressure to return value to shareholders came at the expense of their own users.
SMARTER FASTER trademarks owned by The Big Think, Inc. All rights reserved.