Schrodinger’s cat helps to explain the mysteries of life

© Depositphotos / LenanichizhenovaКот schrödingerSchrodinger’s cat helps to explain the mysteries of life© Depositphotos / LenanichizhenovaПодпишись to daily updates RIA Science

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Austrian physicist Erwin schrödinger in the middle of the last century, the first tried to explain the phenomenon of life using quantum mechanics. Now accumulated enough data to speculate about how in the body can cause quantum effects and why do they need it. RIA Novosti tells about the latest achievements of quantum biology.

Schrodinger’s cat is more alive

In the book «What is life from the point of view of physics?», published in 1945, schrödinger describes the mechanism of heredity, mutations at the level of atoms and molecules using quantum mechanics. This has contributed to discovery of DNA structure and pushed biologists to create their own theories based on rigorous physical principles and experimental data. However, quantum mechanics is still beyond it.

However, the quantum aspect of biology continues to develop. His followers are actively looking for quantum effects in photosynthetic reactions, the physical mechanism of smell and the ability of birds to sense the magnetic field of the Earth.


Plants, algae and many bacteria get their energy directly from sunlight. To do this, they have a kind of antenna in cell membranes (light-harvesting complexes). From there a quantum of light hits the reaction center inside the cell and triggers a cascade of processes that synthesize the molecule ATP, the universal fuel in the body.

Scientists draw attention to the fact that the conversion of light quanta is very efficient: all the photons fall with the antenna consisting of the proteins of the reaction center. There is a lot of ways, but as the photons choose the best? Maybe they use all paths at once? So, we need to allow overlaying of different States of photons on each other quantum superposition.

Experiments were conducted with live systems in test tubes, excited by the laser in order to observe quantum superposition and even a «quantum bit», but the results were contradictory.

To explain the unique navigational capabilities of scientists have put forward the hypothesis that integrated the bird’s compass, which are particles of magnetite in the body.

In accordance with another point of view on the retina of a bird’s eyes have special proteins-receptors, which are activated under the action of sunlight. The photons knock out electrons in protein molecules, turning them into free radicals. Those acquire a charge and, like magnets react to the magnetic field. Change able to change a couple of radicals between two States that exist as both. It is assumed that birds can feel the difference between these «quantum jumps» and adjusting course.

The sense of smell

People can distinguish thousands of odors, but the physical mechanisms of olfaction are not fully known. Getting on the mucous membranes, the molecule of odorous substance is found with a protein molecule in some way recognizes it and sends a signal to nerve cells.

We know about 390 types of olfactory receptors of humans, which are combined and perceive any odors. It is believed that the odorous substance like a key opens the receptor, the lock. However, the molecule of the smell thus not chemically modified. How does the receptor recognize her? Apparently, he feels something else in the molecule.

Scientists have suggested that the electrons are tunneling (pass energy barriers without any additional energy) through the odor molecules and transfer some of the information code to the receptors. Attempts relevant experiments on fruit flies and bees have not yet yielded any clear results.

«The behavior of any complex system, in particular of living cells, determined by microscopic processes (chemistry), and such processes can only be described by quantum mechanics. We simply have no alternative. Another question, how effective is this description today. Quantum mechanics of complex systems is known as quantum computing is still in its infancy», says RIA Novosti Yuri Ozhigov, employee of the Department of supercomputers and quantum Informatics, faculty of computing mathematics and Cybernetics faculty of MSU named after M. V. Lomonosov.

The Professor believes that progress in quantum biology prevents that the modern physical devices sharpened on inanimate objects, experiments on living systems to deliver using them is problematic.

«I hope it’s temporary difficulties,» he concludes.