In 1943 the great physicist Erwin Schrödinger, gave a series of lectures at Trinity College Dublin, published the next year as his book What Is Life? Schrödinger’s central question remains unanswered. There is still no agreed-on definition of what life is. Maybe, some suggest, there are biology-specific laws of nature that we have yet to identify. Indeed, Schrödinger himself argued that ‘living matter, while not eluding the ‘laws of physics’ as established up to date, is likely to involve ‘other laws of physics’ hitherto unknown’. We still struggled to make sense of this fundamental question. Life really does look like magic: even a humble bacterium accomplishes things so dazzling that no human engineer can match it. And yet, huge advances in molecular biology over the past few decades have served only to deepen the mystery. So can life be explained by known physics and chemistry, or do we need something fundamentally new?
Can we find the answers in a domain where computing, chemistry, quantum physics and nanotechnology intersect. To unify biology with physics, transform technology and medicine?
All matter, including living matter, is subject to the laws of physics. Biology and biological processes often deal with electrons and protons that are continuously being transferred between different parts of a cell or a macromolecular system. These transfer processes can only take place when the system exchanges energy with its environment in the form of molecular vibrations and phonons. Such a system is called an ‘open quantum system’, and special physical laws apply to it.
Good examples of biological processes in which quantum effects are visible are the transport of electrons and protons in photosynthesis, respiration, vision, catalysis, olfaction, and in basically every other biological transport process. Further examples include the transfer of electronic and/or vibrational energy, and magnetic field effects in electron transfer and bird migration.
Electrons, protons, excitations, chemical bonds, and electronic charges are by definition quantum, and an understanding of their dynamics requires quantum mechanics. Furthermore, these basic entities largely determine the properties of the next level of organization in biological systems. Biomolecular complexes, whose interaction with one another, and with their environment, often cannot be described accurately without considering the laws of quantum biology.
Fundamental biological processes that involve the conversion of energy into forms that are usable for chemical transformations are quantum mechanical in its nature. These processes involve chemical reactions themselves, light absorption, formation of excited electronic states, transfer of excitation energy, transfer of electrons and protons, etc.
In addition, often in biology, the environment plays an essential role in the outcome of a biomolecular process. Photosynthesis and vision are two prominent examples. Thus, to really understand biology, and the amazing selectivity of biological processes, we need quantum biology.
Biological systems are intrinsically ordered universes of biochemical, electromagnetic and gravitational interactions in constant flux. The components of such complex organisms oscillate about steady state systems to maintain global equilibrium. Coherence, cooperativity, and the congruence of oscillatory frequencies and trajectories of biological micro components essential to retain physiologic homeostatic signal transductive coupling mechanisms are maintained through interatomic communications networks.
In humans, the extremely complex neural system for disposition of sensory and extrasensory information is based on electro-chemical and neurohormonal signaling processes and concepts for quantum mechanical and electromagnetic operation of brain processes. An unique form of wave coherence is supposed to be present at multiple scales in biology and a better characterization of this may have broad consequences for the understanding of living organisms as complex systems. Identified a quantum electrodynamic basis for life?
Extensive scientific investigation has found that a form of quantum coherence operates within living biological systems through what is known as biological excitations and biophoton emission. What this means is that metabolic energy is stored as a form of electromechanical and electromagnetic excitations. These coherent excitations are considered responsible for generating and maintaining long-range order via the transformation of energy and very weak electromagnetic signals. After nearly twenty years of experimental research, the hypothesis was formulated that biophotons are emitted from a coherent electrodynamics field within the living system.
What this means is that each living cell is giving off, or resonating, a biophoton field of coherent energy. If each cell is emitting this field, then the whole living system is, in effect, a resonating field-a ubiquitous nonlocal field. And since biophotons are the entities through which the living system communicates, there is near-instantaneous intercommunication throughout. And this, is the basis for coherent biological organization. Quantum biology can potentially have a huge impact on numerous technologies, including sensing, health, the environment, and information technologies. For example chemical, magnetic, and biological sensing technologies may be taken to a new level when applying the principles found in natural equivalents.
Without the laws of quantum mechanics, we cannot understand life and life processes.