Quantum Mechanic Behaviors in Humans – The Plot Thickens

An article was published recently entitled ‘Quantum mechanics could explain why DNA can spontaneously mutate’. If you aren’t that familiar with quantum mechanics, the key takeaway that makes this headline startling is that it claims there is a quantum impact on a living system. The current thinking (and what we only had evidence of so far) is that quantum mechanics is apparent only in inanimate objects. You may have come across quantum behaviors like entanglement where quantum particles can be strangely connected even when separated across a universe (spooky action at a distance cording to Einstein) or the ability for quantum particles to behave like a wave and a particle at the same time. The rules on quantum mechanics have been discovered and tested for some time but recent experiments have started to upend some of the well established thinking. 


This specific article links a behavior called quantum tunneling to DNA, just as spooky as entanglement, this particular behavior is like a phantom particle moving through a solid wall.  You can read more about how the mechanism works on strands of DNA and how protons can be caught on ‘the wrong side’ which leads to the error.  


“It had previously been thought that such quantum behavior could not occur inside a living cell’s warm, wet and complex environment. However, the Austrian physicist Erwin Schrödinger had suggested in his 1944 book “What is Life?” that quantum mechanics can play a role in living systems since they behave rather differently from inanimate matter.”


The idea that we could have made some incorrect assumptions on the impact of quantum mechanics on living things is serious food for thought. I previously wrote about the concept (and very much a theory at this point) of how quantum mechanics could affect the brain. The theories were challenged in the same way in that the brain is not regarded as hospitable to quantum effects I.e it’s not the right environment for the quantum behaviors to be able to do their magic. Nevertheless there have been some big brains that have spent thinking time on this and from time to time, new research and theories emerge (you can read more in my previous post). If it turned out that our bodies and those of other living things could be subject to delicate and mysterious quantum effects, it could be an astounding discovery. Imagine a world where entanglement, tunneling and things existing in many states is a reality in people. Maybe not such a big stretch given we have plenty of Marvel movies imagining these very scenarios! Outside of the superhero scenarios, the more down to earth applications – from genetics to neuroscience – could lead to some amazing progress in improving people’s lives. There is so much we don’t know about why we think and behave the way we do or why our bodies respond the way they do.


There may be some answers that lie ahead in the world of quantum mechanics. But don’t hold your breath as there is so much in that field we don’t know so it could be a long, but exciting wait for the next installment.

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