Oh wow. Photosynthesis depends on quantum effects for its amazing efficiency:
The quantum wizardry appears to occur in each of a photosynthetic cell’s millions of antenna proteins. These route energy from electrons spinning in photon-sensitive molecules to nearby reaction-center proteins, which convert it to cell-driving charges.
Almost no energy is lost in between. That’s because it exists in multiple places at once, and always finds the shortest path.
- The lead researcher “predicts the emergence of an entire field of quantum biology.” YES.
- The observations in this work were made with femtosecond lasers. Back in college, I worked in a femtosecond laser lab for a semester. These things are so insanely high-tech, and really one of the absolutely essential tools in modern chemistry. Think of a femtosecond laser as a camera with the fastest shutter speed ever. Events that would otherwise be bright smears are captured frame-by-frame, a quadrillionth of a second (!) at a time.
I find myself gazing at the vines on the cement wall outside the cafe here—now blowing in the wind and rain—with newfound awe. Quantum biology!