Physics Live

Quantum Biology. Two words that strictly should oppose each other. In actual fact, their likenesses are unfathomable, however, their similarities are not things that should be compared, but their dependence on each other. Jim Al-Khalili, during ‘Physics Live’ very thoroughly educated us on just the tip of the iceberg that is Quantum Biology. It’s an area of both Physics and Biology that has been very quickly gaining popularity and attention due to the hopeful prospects and potential it brings to the world of science and essentially bigger questions including our existence.

One of the main examples (and the one that was the most difficult for me to conceptualise) was the very simple yet unbelievable complicated idea of bird migration which is now seen to be aided by quantum biology. Here the principal of quantum entanglement was applied, stating that if two electrons are created at the same time, both will be essentially ‘entangled’- whatever happens to one will happen to the other, no matter how far apart they are. Despite the fact that it is understandably difficult to grasp this concept, it is a well-established property of quantum mechanics. The entire process actually works through proteins in the bird’s eyes. Light excites two electrons attached to a molecule in the bird’s eyes, switching one onto a second molecule but both remain entangled despite being separated. The magnetic field of the earth then alters the alignment of the electron’s spin and in course alter the chemical properties of the molecules. An idea has been put forward to suggest that the varying concentration of chemicals might possibly have created a picture of the the earth’s magnetic field which it would then use to orientate itself.

As you can see, the larger questions are being answered by the incredibly minute solutions - in this case the quantum sector. The importance of this field helps in places of our life we didn’t imagine - phones, computers etc. together with the medical world in areas such as robotics, prosthetics and bio-machinery together with so much more. The presentation was unforgettable and has really procured my interest in the subject and I would highly recommend it to anyone interested in exploring this rapidly developing field.


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