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Quantum Coherence Found Fueling Photosynthesis 135

Posted by samzenpus
from the spooky-energy dept.
Gaygirlie writes "Ars Technica has posted an interesting article about new findings regarding quantum physics and photosynthesis. Their excerpt for the article: 'Physicists have found the strongest evidence yet of quantum effects fueling photosynthesis. Multiple experiments in recent years have suggested as much, but it has been hard to be sure. Quantum effects were clearly present in the light-harvesting antenna proteins of plant cells, but their precise role in processing incoming photons remained unclear.' Here's a little background info for those unaware of what coherence and quantum coherence are."
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Quantum Coherence Found Fueling Photosynthesis

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  • by LucidBeast (601749) on Wednesday December 07, 2011 @04:35PM (#38294934)
    helped me, yet again, realize how little I understand quantum physics.
  • Surprise? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by danhuby (759002) on Wednesday December 07, 2011 @04:35PM (#38294940) Homepage

    If quantum effects are real (as they demonstrably are), should it be a surprise that evolution made use of them?

  • Re:Surprise? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by iggymanz (596061) on Wednesday December 07, 2011 @04:40PM (#38294990)

    Anything emitting or absorbing light has to be modeled using quantum mechanics.

  • Re:But wait (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Jeng (926980) on Wednesday December 07, 2011 @04:55PM (#38295136)

    The reason Space Nutters keep saying we need to get off this rock is not because there is nothing left to explore, but mainly for two other reasons.

    A) The "what if" scenarios that have the Earth being destroyed, if we aren't off the Earth by then humankind is done.

    B) We will run out of room, and life extension is only going to make us run out of room quicker. We run out of room and WW1 and WW2 are going to look like small scuffles in comparison.

  • by mcgrew (92797) * on Wednesday December 07, 2011 @05:38PM (#38295688) Homepage Journal

    "If you think you understand quantum physics, then clearly you don't." -Paraphrased Richard Feynman quote

    I don't think I understand it, so does that mean I do?

    As to TFA, it led me to think that this could lead to more powerful and cheaper solar cells. This is an exciting time to be alive. I can see a future without those damned ugly poles and wires in the alley behind my house, with a beautiful solar paneled roof and an even more beautiful lack of an electric bill. Who knows watt will come of investigation into quantum mechanics?

    (yes, that "typo" was a deliberate pun)

  • Re:But wait (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Captain Splendid (673276) <capsplendid@gmail . c om> on Wednesday December 07, 2011 @05:42PM (#38295746) Homepage Journal
    What right do we have to alter what will happen to this planet millions of years from now?

    Wrong question. We have no rights in this regard.

    But we do have a duty towards self-preservation.
  • by pclminion (145572) on Wednesday December 07, 2011 @05:53PM (#38295914)

    Feynman was talking about understanding the "why" sort of questions of quantum mechanics. It is possible to completely understand quantum mechanics as it currently exists. After all, humans created it. Feynman himself was responsible, along with a handful of others, for buttoning up QED into the most complete and perfect physical theory we have as of yet. When he said "nobody understands this stuff," he meant that nobody understands WHY the world is this way. We understand perfectly well how to use the rules to predict the answer.

    Neither was he referring to the various "strange" things that sometimes occur at quantum scales. There is nothing spooky in quantum mechanics, it's all sitting right there in the equations. Equations which were essentially guessed at by men with intuitions the size of Mount Everest, and these guesses were then proven to be correct at ever increasing levels of accuracy. So obviously people are "getting it" on some level. But the deeper sort of "why" questions Feynman relegated to philosophers, and he ridiculed those who wasted their time asking them.

  • by nessus42 (230320) <doug@@@alum...mit...edu> on Wednesday December 07, 2011 @06:38PM (#38296444) Homepage Journal

    There is nothing spooky in quantum mechanics

    Sure there is. Or there very well might be. Nobody understands the Copenhagen Interpretation of quantum mechanics because it is ill-defined. If on the other hand, the correct interpretation of quantum mechanics is the Many Worlds/Everett Interpretation, then the entire universe is in an incredibly complex macroscopic superposition of states all the the time, amounting to a staggeringly large number parallel worlds. Most people will claim that this is "spooky". In fact, the spookiness of it, is typically the only reason given to reject the Everett Interpretation.

    Also, if the Everett Interpretation is correct, no one understands why we observe quantum coin flips that are anything other than 50/50.

    |>ouglas

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