Saturday, June 2, 2012

NYC, World Science Festival | Quantum Biology and the Hidden Nature of Nature

Scale surfing —from the micro world of atoms and subatomic particles to the macro scale of cosmology— seems to be the roller coaster ride of physics, and natural sciences in general.
And it just ruled my schedule and walkabouts of today, from the afternoon panel on cosmology devoted to the Cosmic Microwave Background of the Big Bang —at the NYU downtown campus—to the Quantum Biology panel presentation, hosted by The Kaye Playhouse at Hunter College. The lively and entertaining award-winning journalist John Hockenberry moderated the panel, which included the cosmologist/astrobiologist Paul Davies and Seth Lloyd, a mechanical engineer working with quantum computers and quantum communication systems. Some of the topics du jour: “Can the spooky world of quantum physics explain bird navigation, photosynthesis and even our delicate sense of smell? Clues are mounting that the rules governing the subatomic realm may play an unexpectedly pivotal role in the visible world.”

Quantum biology applies quantum mechanics methodology to topics in the realm of biology, the study of life and living organism. The quantum phenomena of entanglement or tunneling (a particle penetration through barriers) were discussed in “friendly” terms as applying to commonly observable phenomena at the scale of our life.

One of the recurrent observations during the conversations among panelists was how the physical phenomena are much simpler to study than biological systems: even the simplest bacteria are extremely complex systems. The final question asked by John Hockenberry “Where does life come from?” or “What is consciousness” cannot be answered even by the most sophisticated scientific experiments and methods.