A recent article in the Observer, entitled You're powered by quantum mechanics. No, really..., by Jim Al-Khalili and Johnjoe McFadden, explores the role that quantum field theory plays in biological systems. Erwin Schrödinger was one of the first to suggest a study of quantum biology in his 1944 book What Is Life?: recent evidence is making it ever more clear that he was right to do so. As the article points out:

... as 21st-century biology probes the dynamics of ever-smaller systems - even individual atoms and molecules inside living cells - the signs of quantum mechanical behaviour in the building blocks of life are becoming increasingly apparent. Recent research indicates that some of life's most fundamental processes do indeed depend on weirdness welling up from the quantum undercurrent of reality.

In November, 2014 Al-Khalili and McFadden published a hefty tomb on the subject, Life on the Edge: The Coming of Age of Quantum Biology. In it, they describe a number of biological puzzles which quantum effects may solve, like the uncanny ability of migratory birds to detect magnetic fields (see related Open Question: How do animals navigate?), how plants photosynthesize, how our genes duplicate themselves with such precision, and even the hard problem of consciousness.


Watch Al-Khalili's talk at the Royal Society


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