A Quantum Leap

Quantum biology

Professor Johnjoe McFadden reveals how quantum physics could help explain some of biology’s most mysterious phenomena

The Biologist Vol 60(2) p12-16

More than 60 years ago Erwin Schrödinger, one of the founding fathers of quantum mechanics, insisted that certain aspects of biology were inexplicable by classical laws.

In his book What is Life?, published in 1944, Schrödinger considered the question of why the macroscopic world obeys classical laws (thermodynamics, Newtonian mechanics, etc) despite the fact that macroscopic objects are composed of fundamental particles obeying a very different set of rules: quantum mechanics. Schrödinger pointed out that the large objects behave classically because their dynamics are governed by the dynamics of trillions of randomly moving particles whose quantum properties are averaged out to zero; from the averaging of all that random motion emerges the classical laws: order from disorder...

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