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Biotech Science

Nobel Prize Winner Says DNA Performs Quantum Teleportation 347

HJED writes "TechWorld is reporting that the joint winner of the Nobel Prize for medicine in 2008, Luc Montagnier, is claiming that DNA can send 'electromagnetic imprints' of itself into distant cells and fluids which can then be used by enzymes to create copies of the original DNA. This would be equivalent to quantum teleportation. You can read the original paper here [PDF]."
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Nobel Prize Winner Says DNA Performs Quantum Teleportation

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  • umm (Score:5, Insightful)

    by nomadic ( 141991 ) <nomadicworld AT gmail DOT com> on Wednesday January 12, 2011 @11:27PM (#34857514) Homepage
    I am no geneticist, biophysicist, or organic chemist, but...this sounds wacky, even by Nobel laureate (who tend to go for the fringe ideas after they win) standards.
  • Re:umm (Score:3, Insightful)

    by elucido ( 870205 ) * on Wednesday January 12, 2011 @11:32PM (#34857538)

    Exactly. It doesn't matter how an idea sounds. If it's right then it's right.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday January 12, 2011 @11:33PM (#34857552)

    Winning a Nobel Prize does not give you a lifetime immunity from saying anything idiotic. It doesn't even prevent you from putting idiotic things into the arxiv. One might think there were a negative correlation between being smart enough to win a prize and stupid enough to say something idiotic in public, but the data suggests otherwise. Winning the Nobel seems to give some of these guys the confidence they need to make complete asses of themselves.

    I am a particle physicist, and needless to say, the theory proposed in this paper is laughably stupid. The authors have no understanding of quantum field theory, and their observations are a sad combination of wishful thinking and poor experimental design.

  • by Myji Humoz ( 1535565 ) on Wednesday January 12, 2011 @11:33PM (#34857554)
    From the freaking paper: "Some bacterial and viral DNA sequences have been found to induce low frequency electromagnetic waves in high aqueous dilutions. This phenomenon appears to be triggered by the ambient electromagnetic background of very low frequency. We discuss this phenomenon in the framework of quantum field theory."

    In other words, scientists observed something that makes them say "hmm... that's strange," which leads them to say "hmm... I wonder what could be causing this?" These researchers tried to explain the phenomenon using the best tools that they thought that had: quantum mechanics. (classical EM theory is pretty useless for fields this weak) The linked article is behind a wall, but the title seems to start with "Scorn over claim of teleported DNA"

    Again from the paper: "In this paper we have described the experiments showing a new property of DNA and the induction of electromagnetic waves in water dilutions. We have briefly depicted the theoretical scheme which can explain qualitatively the features observed in these experiments." Crazy observed phenomenon explained by theories that aren't fully accurate? No way!

    The current scientific media seems to increasingly favor sensationalist titles that enable their readers to go "hah, those stupid eggheads, I know better than them that X/Y/Z is impossible! I are smarts!" and this seems to be no different. There is not, has not, and likely will not, be any claims that DNA teleports. However, there has been, is, and likely will be, evidence that DNA interacts with factors beyond easy and simple comprehension. These interactions seem to resemble "phase-locking regime[s]" observed in "two superconducting samples or in the arrays of Josephson junctions," which is pretty far from quack science. /rantover
  • Re:Quite Cool (Score:5, Insightful)

    by paiute ( 550198 ) on Wednesday January 12, 2011 @11:40PM (#34857576)

    Quite honestly, I don't possess the science background to really critique the paper and have to rely on the man's credentials to find this believable.

    I do have the background. It is unbelievable. Even IgNobel Prize winners are laughing at this.

  • by fishexe ( 168879 ) on Wednesday January 12, 2011 @11:52PM (#34857654) Homepage

    However, there has been, is, and likely will be, evidence that DNA interacts with factors beyond easy and simple comprehension. These interactions seem to resemble "phase-locking regime[s]" observed in "two superconducting samples or in the arrays of Josephson junctions," which is pretty far from quack science.

    Really? I would like to see some citations where DNA interacts with any other molecule by any mechanism other than enzyme-substrate noncovalent binding.

    I don't know about anybody else, but that thing you just said is beyond easy and simple comprehension to my mind...

  • by Atmchicago ( 555403 ) on Wednesday January 12, 2011 @11:59PM (#34857686)

    The paper is in Arxiv, and has not been peer-reviewed. They refer to Craig Venter as "G. Vinter." I won't hold my breath until these results are replicated by third parties.

  • by afabbro ( 33948 ) on Thursday January 13, 2011 @12:09AM (#34857750) Homepage

    If you want to make sense of the Unified Field and you want to know who John Hagelin is

    ...then you need to read more James Randi and less new age crackpottery.

    Seriously - this is a guy who claims that if enough people in a city do TM meditation, crime rates will fall and a Vedic Defense Shield will prevent them from war.

    John Hagelin appeals to people who think What the Bleep Do We Know and The Secret were science documentaries.

  • by guyminuslife ( 1349809 ) on Thursday January 13, 2011 @12:13AM (#34857762)

    Even worse than the armchair layman criticism is the armchair layman over-excitement. I'm imagining that within a year, if it's not out already, there will be a book published called something like, "Unlocking the Quantum Secrets of Your DNA" which cites this article as proof that humans have ESP/telekinesis/magic voodoo powers embedded in their genetic code. If we could only unlock the 90% of our brains that most humans never use*, imagine what we could do with our powers of teleportation!

    * I hate that myth. Every time I hear it from someone, I want to say, "Well, maybe you're not using that 90%, but I sure as shit am." Probably comes from the proportion of the brain tissue comprised of glial cells.

  • Re:umm (Score:5, Insightful)

    by DebateG ( 1001165 ) on Thursday January 13, 2011 @12:33AM (#34857870)
    I am a biologist by trade, and I can say that this paper is very, very poorly done. If it was submitted to any major journal in the field, the peer reviewers would tear it to shreds. Here is the big experiment: 1) Take DNA and place it in tube #1 diluted around 1 million fold 2) Separate it from tube #2 containing all the building blocks of DNA, but not properly assembled 3) In between tube #1 and tube #2 is a special piece of metal 4) Subject the entire thing to low frequency magnetic field 5) There is an induction of the DNA to emit oscillatory radiation 6) DNA replicate magically appears in tube #2 from the building blocks I can buy the assertion that DNA at certain dilution transmits some strange radiation. It's step 5 to 6 that I think is complete and utter garbage. They don't do the proper controls for step 4 to 5. What happens when no DNA is present in tube #1? What happens when there is no inducing field? What happens when the building blocks are present in tube #2? They clearly know that this is an issue because they do the exact controls from steps 4 to 5. The "synthesis" of new DNA can easily be explained by one explanation: contamination. DNA sequencing techniques are sensitive enough to detect one or two copies of that sequence. If any of their reagents, tools, or lab members got even a single molecule of DNA on them and transferred it to tube #2, they would see that result. This is a basic fact that pretty much all molecular biologist learns (usually the hard way, by accidentally contaminating something of importance). To give the authors the benefit of the doubt, I'll go ahead and say they have successfully duped Slashdot with a hoax spoofing the claims of homeopathy.
  • Re:umm (Score:5, Insightful)

    by ColdWetDog ( 752185 ) on Thursday January 13, 2011 @12:42AM (#34857910) Homepage
    Yes, this is good. Very good. Just because he can't separate out a mycobacterium from a virus he has to come up with some completely left field explanation?

    The 'apparatus' is pretty impressive. I'd expect this out of an eighth grade science fair experiment but "coil made up of copper wire, 300 ohms". That's it? That's all you need? We've all completely missed this one?

    I know there is a long lead time on scientific publications but April 1st is still a ways in the future.
  • Re:umm (Score:2, Insightful)

    by DontLickJesus ( 1141027 ) on Thursday January 13, 2011 @01:11AM (#34858060) Homepage Journal
    I agree that these controls should probably be presented in the paper, but a layman could assume someone would attempt this multiple times before publishing.

    I'm not saying this guy is right. However, aside contamination, wouldn't the only other explanation be that genetic material has assembled itself out of nowhere? If I remember correctly science has yet to observe that phenomenon, so I can understand why the author would be looking to other sources.

    Using terms like "New Facts" hurt the author's credibility, as do the lack of proper controls. But, let the man research. Calling this a hoax is to dismiss the entire process and set aside something potentially life changing.

    Even better, send your comments and suggestions directly to the author: vitiello/at/

    Help him become better, don't just criticize the idea.
  • Re:Quite Cool (Score:5, Insightful)

    by 93 Escort Wagon ( 326346 ) on Thursday January 13, 2011 @01:21AM (#34858094)

    A lot of people laughed at Tesla too. Only took 100 years to prove the man right, for the most part.

    So... basically you're saying that anyone who gets laughed at because of their theories must be right, because Tesla got laughed at and he ended up being right?

    I think you'll get laughed at if you try to present that correlation as being meaningful. But, on the bright side - they laughed at Tesla, so you must be right!

  • Re:umm (Score:4, Insightful)

    by MightyMartian ( 840721 ) on Thursday January 13, 2011 @01:34AM (#34858160) Journal

    By the same token, extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence. Even brilliant scientists can sadly find themselves a few bricks short of load. Roger Penrose has humiliated himself with his quantum mind nonsense, and Fred Hoyle's cosmological contributions were overshadowed by his rejection of evolution (quite out of his area of expertise) and advocating of panspermia.

  • Re:Quite Cool (Score:5, Insightful)

    by nomadic ( 141991 ) <nomadicworld AT gmail DOT com> on Thursday January 13, 2011 @01:35AM (#34858176) Homepage
    "But the fact that some geniuses were laughed at does not imply that all who are laughed at are geniuses. They laughed at Columbus, they laughed at Fulton, they laughed at the Wright Brothers. But they also laughed at Bozo the Clown." -- Carl Sagan
  • by Daniel Dvorkin ( 106857 ) * on Thursday January 13, 2011 @01:45AM (#34858222) Homepage Journal

    Really? I would like to see some citations where DNA interacts with any other molecule by any mechanism other than enzyme-substrate noncovalent binding.

    Plenty of citations to keep you busy for a while. []

    I think I know what you meant, but the statement as you made it was remarkably silly.

  • Once Again.... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Caraig ( 186934 ) * on Thursday January 13, 2011 @02:08AM (#34858342)

    arXiv is NOT peer-reviewed, and anyone can put anything up there. (Okay, that's an exaggeration, but it lacks the intrinsic rigor of a peer-reviewed journal.) It's the Wikipedia of science papers.

    While arXiv is filled with some neat (and some not-so-neat) ideas for science fiction writers, I'd be reluctant (to put it mildly) to give credence to anything that sounds weird that resides there. Seriously, I know some cool stuff appears there, but we've been through this before. When is /.'s staff going to stop citing arXiv papers as being somehow more plausible than the Dean drive?

  • Re:umm (Score:2, Insightful)

    by golden age villain ( 1607173 ) on Thursday January 13, 2011 @03:35AM (#34858718)
    Two other things, the text is really bad. He would be laughed at by reviewers and editors for his scientific writing style. For instance:

    The story started ten years ago when one of us (L.M.) studied the strange behaviour of a small bacterium, a frequent companion of HIV. [...] Then the question was raised: what kind of information was transmitted in the aqueous filtrate? It was the beginning of a long lasting investigation bearing on the physical properties of DNA in water.

    More of a problem, they do not show any evidence. The only "data" on display are poorly made drawings of the setup (why not take a picture?) and a screenshot of some curves whose resolution is so low that it is impossible to read anything. I had already read some time ago that he is now a proponent of the infamous "water memory" theory. It is sad to think that someone who was arguably at the top of his field some years ago has sunk so low and is humiliating himself like this.

  • Re:umm (Score:4, Insightful)

    by GerryHattrick ( 1037764 ) on Thursday January 13, 2011 @04:00AM (#34858778)
    Alternative hypothesis is that nutters sometimes have a real advantage in discovering the truly unexpected, and thus win Nobel Prizes. That doesn't stop them being nutters. Overstated, I know, but you see what I mean.
  •     Well, people can levitate. To understand how, a separation of mysticism, mythology, and technology must be maintained.

        You can watch a magician (mysticism) make a human float, and he/she will have the audience believing exactly what they saw.

        You can hear and read about how a religious figure (mythology) floated.

        And then you can be taught (technology) hundreds of ways to make a person levitate. theatrical flying harnesses [], forced air [ttp], glass floor/ceiling and perspective []. How about not just a person, but an entire train full of people []? Even something as simple (and expensive, and stupid) as hanging from a rope under a helicopter (ala Robert Downey Jr in Air America).

        Illusionists by a variety of names have been making people believe in impossible things. All it takes is an audience to believe the mysticism or mythology, before asking to understand the technology. Too many people are willing to believe the "miracle" answer, without understanding the technological answer.

        If I read your comment right, you've grown beyond the mysticism answers. If we can only drag a few billion other people past the threshold, humanity would be in good shape.

  • Re:umm (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Internetuser1248 ( 1787630 ) on Thursday January 13, 2011 @05:42AM (#34859206)
    Well there were scientific studies [] done, these are repeatable and falsifiable. Rather than everyone presenting their own skeptical opinion as though it were indisputable truth how about we get a few volunteers to repeat the experiments and actually find out the answer.
  • Re:Quite Cool (Score:4, Insightful)

    by tibit ( 1762298 ) on Thursday January 13, 2011 @07:20AM (#34859644)

    More to the point, Tesla's ideas for wireless transmission of energy miss the reality by orders of magnitude. They don't hold up to simple electromagnetic propagation calculations (path loss, for one).

  • Re:umm (Score:5, Insightful)

    by DebateG ( 1001165 ) on Thursday January 13, 2011 @09:54AM (#34860702)
    Yeah, they did the proper controls on the DNA generation of frequency. I think that could, within the confines of current science, be a reasonable claim. They did not do those same controls on the transmissible assembly of DNA through these water nanostructures. That claim is the one I think is unbelievable. If I were writing this paper, I would make it explicit that these controls were performed for both experiments. The fact that they did not do this leads me to conclude they were trying to trick the reader into assuming they did.
  • Re:umm (Score:5, Insightful)

    by tehcyder ( 746570 ) on Thursday January 13, 2011 @10:22AM (#34861134) Journal

    Roger Penrose has humiliated himself with his quantum mind nonsense

    A claim like that requires some substantiation.

    I know it's official policy on slashdot to believe unequivocally in hard AI and the fucking singularity, but that doesn't mean it's true and it certainly doesn't mean it's nonsense to come up with counter arguments.

Thus spake the master programmer: "When a program is being tested, it is too late to make design changes." -- Geoffrey James, "The Tao of Programming"