[ExI] Quantum biology

Damien Broderick thespike at satx.rr.com
Fri Apr 23 18:37:00 UTC 2010


HFSP J. 2009 December; 3(6): 386–400.
Published online 2009 November 9. doi: 10.2976/1.3244985.
PMCID: PMC2839811

Quantum physics meets biology
Markus Arndt,^1 Thomas Juffmann,^1 and Vlatko Vedral^2, ^3
^1 Faculty of Physics, University of Vienna, Boltzmanngasse 5, 1090 
Vienna, Austria
^2 Atomic and Laser Physics, Clarendon Laboratory, University of Oxford, 
Parks Road, Oxford OX1 3PU, United Kingdom
^3 Department of Physics and Centre for Quantum Technologies, National 
University of Singapore, 2 Science Drive 3, Singapore 117543, Singapore
Markus Arndt: Email: markus.arndt at univie.ac.at 
<mailto:markus.arndt at univie.ac.at>
Received July 2, 2009; Accepted September 17, 2009.

Quantum physics and biology have long been regarded as unrelated 
disciplines, describing nature at the inanimate microlevel on the one 
hand and living species on the other hand. Over the past decades the 
life sciences have succeeded in providing ever more and refined 
explanations of macroscopic phenomena that were based on an improved 
understanding of molecular structures and mechanisms. Simultaneously, 
quantum physics, originally rooted in a world-view of quantum 
coherences, entanglement, and other nonclassical effects, has been 
heading toward systems of increasing complexity. The present perspective 
article shall serve as a “pedestrian guide” to the growing 
interconnections between the two fields. We recapitulate the generic and 
sometimes unintuitive characteristics of quantum physics and point to a 
number of applications in the life sciences. We discuss our criteria for 
a future “quantum biology,” its current status, recent experimental 
progress, and also the restrictions that nature imposes on bold 
extrapolations of quantum theory to macroscopic phenomena.

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