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Quantum Biology

Alessandro Sergi

School of Physics
UKZN - Pietermaritzburg
and
Quantum Research Group
Durban

Alessandro Sergi (School of Physics UKZN - Pietermaritzburg


Quantum
and Quantum
Biology Research Group Durban) 1 / 40
Outline

1 What is life?

2 The current paradigm of CMP

3 What is Quantum Mechanics?

4 Quantum phenomena in Biology

5 Conclusions and perspectives

Alessandro Sergi (School of Physics UKZN - Pietermaritzburg


Quantum
and Quantum
Biology Research Group Durban) 2 / 40
What is life?

What is life?

Questions Situation
What kind of system is
life?

Alessandro Sergi (School of Physics UKZN - Pietermaritzburg


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and Quantum
Biology Research Group Durban) 3 / 40
What is life?

What is life?

Questions Situation
What kind of system is
life?
What does
“understanding life”
really means?

Alessandro Sergi (School of Physics UKZN - Pietermaritzburg


Quantum
and Quantum
Biology Research Group Durban) 3 / 40
What is life?

What is life?

Questions Situation
What kind of system is Such basic questions on
life? a life system itself are
What does not answered by the
“understanding life” main-stream approach of
really means? current biology, which
elucidates molecules and
genes.

Alessandro Sergi (School of Physics UKZN - Pietermaritzburg


Quantum
and Quantum
Biology Research Group Durban) 3 / 40
What is life?

Limits of the molecular paradigm

There is no particular molecule, including DNA, just whose presence


implies life.

Alessandro Sergi (School of Physics UKZN - Pietermaritzburg


Quantum
and Quantum
Biology Research Group Durban) 4 / 40
What is life?

Limits of the molecular paradigm

There is no particular molecule, including DNA, just whose presence


implies life.
Ex: An omelette has DNA but clearly is not alive.

Alessandro Sergi (School of Physics UKZN - Pietermaritzburg


Quantum
and Quantum
Biology Research Group Durban) 4 / 40
What is life?

Limits of the molecular paradigm

There is no particular molecule, including DNA, just whose presence


implies life.
Ex: An omelette has DNA but clearly is not alive.
It is reasonable that the molecules used by living creatures on Earth
are not the only possible molecules that could play an important role
for life.

Alessandro Sergi (School of Physics UKZN - Pietermaritzburg


Quantum
and Quantum
Biology Research Group Durban) 4 / 40
What is life?

Limits of the molecular paradigm

There is no particular molecule, including DNA, just whose presence


implies life.
Ex: An omelette has DNA but clearly is not alive.
It is reasonable that the molecules used by living creatures on Earth
are not the only possible molecules that could play an important role
for life.
If not the molecules, then what are the specific conditions for life?

Alessandro Sergi (School of Physics UKZN - Pietermaritzburg


Quantum
and Quantum
Biology Research Group Durban) 4 / 40
What is life?

Conditions for life

The ability of reproduction.

Alessandro Sergi (School of Physics UKZN - Pietermaritzburg


Quantum
and Quantum
Biology Research Group Durban) 5 / 40
What is life?

Conditions for life

The ability of reproduction.


The potentiality to undergo evolution.

Alessandro Sergi (School of Physics UKZN - Pietermaritzburg


Quantum
and Quantum
Biology Research Group Durban) 5 / 40
What is life?

Conditions for life

The ability of reproduction.


The potentiality to undergo evolution.
The existence of some kind of structure separating an individual’s
body from the external world.

Alessandro Sergi (School of Physics UKZN - Pietermaritzburg


Quantum
and Quantum
Biology Research Group Durban) 5 / 40
What is life?

Conditions for life

The ability of reproduction.


The potentiality to undergo evolution.
The existence of some kind of structure separating an individual’s
body from the external world.
Some kind of metabolic capacity through which an individual body is
maintained.

Alessandro Sergi (School of Physics UKZN - Pietermaritzburg


Quantum
and Quantum
Biology Research Group Durban) 5 / 40
What is life?

Conditions for life

The ability of reproduction.


The potentiality to undergo evolution.
The existence of some kind of structure separating an individual’s
body from the external world.
Some kind of metabolic capacity through which an individual body is
maintained.
The existence of some degree of autonomy.
...

Alessandro Sergi (School of Physics UKZN - Pietermaritzburg


Quantum
and Quantum
Biology Research Group Durban) 5 / 40
What is life?

Searching for the Universal Properties of living systems

No list can be completely satisfactory or agreed upon.

Alessandro Sergi (School of Physics UKZN - Pietermaritzburg


Quantum
and Quantum
Biology Research Group Durban) 6 / 40
What is life?

Searching for the Universal Properties of living systems

No list can be completely satisfactory or agreed upon.


But there must be a solution! since in many cases we have an
intuitive ability to distinguish between living and non-living creatures.

Alessandro Sergi (School of Physics UKZN - Pietermaritzburg


Quantum
and Quantum
Biology Research Group Durban) 6 / 40
What is life?

Searching for the Universal Properties of living systems

No list can be completely satisfactory or agreed upon.


But there must be a solution! since in many cases we have an
intuitive ability to distinguish between living and non-living creatures.
Certain properties are common to all living systems:
Universal properties of living systems.

Alessandro Sergi (School of Physics UKZN - Pietermaritzburg


Quantum
and Quantum
Biology Research Group Durban) 6 / 40
What is life?

Universal logic of life

Biology attempted to escape enumerationism through Darwin’s theory


of evolution:

Alessandro Sergi (School of Physics UKZN - Pietermaritzburg


Quantum
and Quantum
Biology Research Group Durban) 7 / 40
What is life?

Universal logic of life

Biology attempted to escape enumerationism through Darwin’s theory


of evolution:
Universal logic: Variation, reproduction, and selection.

Alessandro Sergi (School of Physics UKZN - Pietermaritzburg


Quantum
and Quantum
Biology Research Group Durban) 7 / 40
What is life?

Universal logic of life

Biology attempted to escape enumerationism through Darwin’s theory


of evolution:
Universal logic: Variation, reproduction, and selection.
Darwin’s theory alone does not allow us to determine what kinds of
properties or functions of organisms are possible, nor does it allow us
to determine whether any particular property can be realized.

Alessandro Sergi (School of Physics UKZN - Pietermaritzburg


Quantum
and Quantum
Biology Research Group Durban) 7 / 40
What is life?

Universal logic of life

Biology attempted to escape enumerationism through Darwin’s theory


of evolution:
Universal logic: Variation, reproduction, and selection.
Darwin’s theory alone does not allow us to determine what kinds of
properties or functions of organisms are possible, nor does it allow us
to determine whether any particular property can be realized.
Is there any universally applicable logic that would allow us to
understand the emergence of the properties fundamental to living
systems?

Alessandro Sergi (School of Physics UKZN - Pietermaritzburg


Quantum
and Quantum
Biology Research Group Durban) 7 / 40
What is life?

Half a century of Molecular Biology

Physicists introduced a major trend in biology more than half a


century ago.

Alessandro Sergi (School of Physics UKZN - Pietermaritzburg


Quantum
and Quantum
Biology Research Group Durban) 8 / 40
What is life?

Half a century of Molecular Biology

Physicists introduced a major trend in biology more than half a


century ago.
Delbruck and collaborators (strongly influenced by the lectures of Niels
Bohr).

Alessandro Sergi (School of Physics UKZN - Pietermaritzburg


Quantum
and Quantum
Biology Research Group Durban) 8 / 40
What is life?

Half a century of Molecular Biology

Physicists introduced a major trend in biology more than half a


century ago.
Delbruck and collaborators (strongly influenced by the lectures of Niels
Bohr).
Schrödinger’s “What is life?” drove the search leading to the discovery
of DNA by Watson and Crick.

Alessandro Sergi (School of Physics UKZN - Pietermaritzburg


Quantum
and Quantum
Biology Research Group Durban) 8 / 40
What is life?

Half a century of Molecular Biology

Physicists introduced a major trend in biology more than half a


century ago.
Delbruck and collaborators (strongly influenced by the lectures of Niels
Bohr).
Schrödinger’s “What is life?” drove the search leading to the discovery
of DNA by Watson and Crick.
Molecular biology attempted to describe the universal properties of
the phenomena exhibited by living systems in terms of molecules.

Alessandro Sergi (School of Physics UKZN - Pietermaritzburg


Quantum
and Quantum
Biology Research Group Durban) 8 / 40
What is life?

Half a century of Molecular Biology

Physicists introduced a major trend in biology more than half a


century ago.
Delbruck and collaborators (strongly influenced by the lectures of Niels
Bohr).
Schrödinger’s “What is life?” drove the search leading to the discovery
of DNA by Watson and Crick.
Molecular biology attempted to describe the universal properties of
the phenomena exhibited by living systems in terms of molecules.
The goal is to trace down from the level of cells to that of the
composing molecules, and to understand the functioning of each
molecule in biological processes (Ex: heredity, metabolism, motility,
and so on).

Alessandro Sergi (School of Physics UKZN - Pietermaritzburg


Quantum
and Quantum
Biology Research Group Durban) 8 / 40
What is life?

Methodology of Molecular Biology

Consider a system at the macroscopic level. Identify molecules and


genes that are important in some function under study and clarify
their role.

Alessandro Sergi (School of Physics UKZN - Pietermaritzburg


Quantum
and Quantum
Biology Research Group Durban) 9 / 40
What is life?

Methodology of Molecular Biology

Consider a system at the macroscopic level. Identify molecules and


genes that are important in some function under study and clarify
their role.
Find the interactions of such molecules with other molecules.

Alessandro Sergi (School of Physics UKZN - Pietermaritzburg


Quantum
and Quantum
Biology Research Group Durban) 9 / 40
What is life?

Methodology of Molecular Biology

Consider a system at the macroscopic level. Identify molecules and


genes that are important in some function under study and clarify
their role.
Find the interactions of such molecules with other molecules.
Find how the macroscopic functions of the organism arise from the
cooperativity of the microscopic relevant molecules.

Alessandro Sergi (School of Physics UKZN - Pietermaritzburg


Quantum
and Quantum
Biology Research Group Durban) 9 / 40
What is life?

Methodology of Molecular Biology

Consider a system at the macroscopic level. Identify molecules and


genes that are important in some function under study and clarify
their role.
Find the interactions of such molecules with other molecules.
Find how the macroscopic functions of the organism arise from the
cooperativity of the microscopic relevant molecules.
Face the combinatorial complexity.

Alessandro Sergi (School of Physics UKZN - Pietermaritzburg


Quantum
and Quantum
Biology Research Group Durban) 9 / 40
What is life?

Methodology of Molecular Biology

Consider a system at the macroscopic level. Identify molecules and


genes that are important in some function under study and clarify
their role.
Find the interactions of such molecules with other molecules.
Find how the macroscopic functions of the organism arise from the
cooperativity of the microscopic relevant molecules.
Face the combinatorial complexity.
Devise the network/circuit of chemical reactions and back-reactions.

Alessandro Sergi (School of Physics UKZN - Pietermaritzburg


Quantum
and Quantum
Biology Research Group Durban) 9 / 40
What is life?

Reemergence of the Enumerative “-ome” Doctrine

Molecular Biology originally started as the pursuit of universality, rejecting


the “enumerationism” that preceded it.
It has now become an enumerative science:
Genome project.
Proteome project.
Metabolome project.

Alessandro Sergi (School of Physics UKZN - Pietermaritzburg


Quantum
and Quantum
Biology Research Group Durban) 10 / 40
What is life?

Assumptions behind Reductionism

Reductionism is based on the premise that the properties of individual


elements change little in response to their interaction with the other
elements composing the whole.

Alessandro Sergi (School of Physics UKZN - Pietermaritzburg


Quantum
and Quantum
Biology Research Group Durban) 11 / 40
What is life?

Assumptions behind Reductionism

Reductionism is based on the premise that the properties of individual


elements change little in response to their interaction with the other
elements composing the whole.
However, interactions are often not small in biological systems.

Alessandro Sergi (School of Physics UKZN - Pietermaritzburg


Quantum
and Quantum
Biology Research Group Durban) 11 / 40
What is life?

Assumptions behind Reductionism

Reductionism is based on the premise that the properties of individual


elements change little in response to their interaction with the other
elements composing the whole.
However, interactions are often not small in biological systems.
Ex: proteins in the crowded environment (gel) of a cell (in some
cases, the distance between two neighbouring atoms on a single
protein molecule is greater than that between either of these atoms
and the closest atoms of other protein molecules).

Alessandro Sergi (School of Physics UKZN - Pietermaritzburg


Quantum
and Quantum
Biology Research Group Durban) 11 / 40
What is life?

The information (computer) paradigm

Algorithmic approach
Can the process of development
exhibited by living creatures be
represented as some kind of
computer program (a logical
expression in the form of a chain
of if-then statements)?

Ex: If X i X 0 (threshold)
express Y .

Alessandro Sergi (School of Physics UKZN - Pietermaritzburg


Quantum
and Quantum
Biology Research Group Durban) 12 / 40
What is life?

The information (computer) paradigm

Algorithmic approach Problem


Can the process of development When X is continuous
exhibited by living creatures be fluctuations will cause big
represented as some kind of errors.
computer program (a logical
expression in the form of a chain
of if-then statements)?

Ex: If X i X 0 (threshold)
express Y .

Alessandro Sergi (School of Physics UKZN - Pietermaritzburg


Quantum
and Quantum
Biology Research Group Durban) 12 / 40
What is life?

The information (computer) paradigm

Algorithmic approach Problem


Can the process of development When X is continuous
exhibited by living creatures be fluctuations will cause big
represented as some kind of errors.
computer program (a logical One should have to explain
expression in the form of a chain the algorithmic robustness
of if-then statements)? (stability) of such
living-computers.
Ex: If X i X 0 (threshold)
express Y .

Alessandro Sergi (School of Physics UKZN - Pietermaritzburg


Quantum
and Quantum
Biology Research Group Durban) 12 / 40
What is life?

The problem of stability

Large noise: Life processes involve an enormous variety of molecules. But,


the number of molecules of a given type is often is small.

Alessandro Sergi (School of Physics UKZN - Pietermaritzburg


Quantum
and Quantum
Biology Research Group Durban) 13 / 40
What is life?

The problem of stability

Large noise: Life processes involve an enormous variety of molecules. But,


the number of molecules of a given type is often is small.

Ex: The process of development of a multicellular organism.


It seems miraculous that systems with such a variety of molecules,
participating in such a large number of processes, can result again and
again in almost identical macroscopic pattern.

Alessandro Sergi (School of Physics UKZN - Pietermaritzburg


Quantum
and Quantum
Biology Research Group Durban) 13 / 40
What is life?

The problem of stability - 2

The situation is analogous to a person attempting to stack many irregularly


shaped blocks into a particular form during an intense earthquake.

Alessandro Sergi (School of Physics UKZN - Pietermaritzburg


Quantum
and Quantum
Biology Research Group Durban) 14 / 40
What is life?

The problem of stability - 2

The situation is analogous to a person attempting to stack many irregularly


shaped blocks into a particular form during an intense earthquake.

Possible Solution: There must be some negative feedback in living


systems!

Alessandro Sergi (School of Physics UKZN - Pietermaritzburg


Quantum
and Quantum
Biology Research Group Durban) 14 / 40
What is life?

The problem of stability - 2

The situation is analogous to a person attempting to stack many irregularly


shaped blocks into a particular form during an intense earthquake.

Possible Solution: There must be some negative feedback in living


systems!
Problem: But there must also be positive feedback (amplification).

Alessandro Sergi (School of Physics UKZN - Pietermaritzburg


Quantum
and Quantum
Biology Research Group Durban) 14 / 40
What is life?

Living systems are not machines

The parts together are different from the parts acting collectively.

Alessandro Sergi (School of Physics UKZN - Pietermaritzburg


Quantum
and Quantum
Biology Research Group Durban) 15 / 40
What is life?

Living systems are not machines

The parts together are different from the parts acting collectively.
The parts composing the whole are determined by the whole. Ex:
Morphogenesis.

Alessandro Sergi (School of Physics UKZN - Pietermaritzburg


Quantum
and Quantum
Biology Research Group Durban) 15 / 40
What is life?

Living systems are not machines

The parts together are different from the parts acting collectively.
The parts composing the whole are determined by the whole. Ex:
Morphogenesis.
No stiffness: No fixed response to a specific stimulus.

Alessandro Sergi (School of Physics UKZN - Pietermaritzburg


Quantum
and Quantum
Biology Research Group Durban) 15 / 40
What is life?

Living systems are not machines

The parts together are different from the parts acting collectively.
The parts composing the whole are determined by the whole. Ex:
Morphogenesis.
No stiffness: No fixed response to a specific stimulus.
Softness: The response depends on the environmental conditions.

Alessandro Sergi (School of Physics UKZN - Pietermaritzburg


Quantum
and Quantum
Biology Research Group Durban) 15 / 40
What is life?

Living systems are not machines

The parts together are different from the parts acting collectively.
The parts composing the whole are determined by the whole. Ex:
Morphogenesis.
No stiffness: No fixed response to a specific stimulus.
Softness: The response depends on the environmental conditions.
Spontaneity: Different outputs are obtained from the same input,
depending on the internal state and its fluctuations.

Alessandro Sergi (School of Physics UKZN - Pietermaritzburg


Quantum
and Quantum
Biology Research Group Durban) 15 / 40
What is life?

Living systems are not machines

The parts together are different from the parts acting collectively.
The parts composing the whole are determined by the whole. Ex:
Morphogenesis.
No stiffness: No fixed response to a specific stimulus.
Softness: The response depends on the environmental conditions.
Spontaneity: Different outputs are obtained from the same input,
depending on the internal state and its fluctuations.
Autonomy (flexibility and adaptability): Living systems do not always
behave in strict accordance with the rules applied to them, and
depending on the situation, the rules they perceive will change.

Alessandro Sergi (School of Physics UKZN - Pietermaritzburg


Quantum
and Quantum
Biology Research Group Durban) 15 / 40
What is life?

Universal properties

Living systems posses universal properties that cannot be traced back to


molecules
Stability of the development process.

Alessandro Sergi (School of Physics UKZN - Pietermaritzburg


Quantum
and Quantum
Biology Research Group Durban) 16 / 40
What is life?

Universal properties

Living systems posses universal properties that cannot be traced back to


molecules
Stability of the development process.
Irreversibility in the development process. Lost of multipotency from
embryonic stem cells to stem cells, and to committed cells capable of
reproducing only their own kind.

Alessandro Sergi (School of Physics UKZN - Pietermaritzburg


Quantum
and Quantum
Biology Research Group Durban) 16 / 40
What is life?

Universal properties

Living systems posses universal properties that cannot be traced back to


molecules
Stability of the development process.
Irreversibility in the development process. Lost of multipotency from
embryonic stem cells to stem cells, and to committed cells capable of
reproducing only their own kind.
Softness.

Alessandro Sergi (School of Physics UKZN - Pietermaritzburg


Quantum
and Quantum
Biology Research Group Durban) 16 / 40
What is life?

Universal properties

Living systems posses universal properties that cannot be traced back to


molecules
Stability of the development process.
Irreversibility in the development process. Lost of multipotency from
embryonic stem cells to stem cells, and to committed cells capable of
reproducing only their own kind.
Softness.
Compatibility of two faces of the reproduction: The ability to produce
nearly identical offspring and capacity to generate variation leading to
diversity through evolution.

Alessandro Sergi (School of Physics UKZN - Pietermaritzburg


Quantum
and Quantum
Biology Research Group Durban) 16 / 40
What is life?

Universal properties

Living systems posses universal properties that cannot be traced back to


molecules
Stability of the development process.
Irreversibility in the development process. Lost of multipotency from
embryonic stem cells to stem cells, and to committed cells capable of
reproducing only their own kind.
Softness.
Compatibility of two faces of the reproduction: The ability to produce
nearly identical offspring and capacity to generate variation leading to
diversity through evolution.
Autonomy of living systems of determining their own rules and hence
adapt.

Alessandro Sergi (School of Physics UKZN - Pietermaritzburg


Quantum
and Quantum
Biology Research Group Durban) 16 / 40
What is life?

Autopoiesis: The universal logic of Maturana and Varela

Understanding a living system means understanding the network of


relations that must occur so that it can exists as a unit: The set of
such relations is called organization.

Alessandro Sergi (School of Physics UKZN - Pietermaritzburg


Quantum
and Quantum
Biology Research Group Durban) 17 / 40
What is life?

Autopoiesis: The universal logic of Maturana and Varela

Understanding a living system means understanding the network of


relations that must occur so that it can exists as a unit: The set of
such relations is called organization.
The particular and concrete realization of the organization of a living
system (molecules, network of specific chemical reactions, and so on)
is called structure.

Alessandro Sergi (School of Physics UKZN - Pietermaritzburg


Quantum
and Quantum
Biology Research Group Durban) 17 / 40
What is life?

Autopoiesis: The universal logic of Maturana and Varela

Understanding a living system means understanding the network of


relations that must occur so that it can exists as a unit: The set of
such relations is called organization.
The particular and concrete realization of the organization of a living
system (molecules, network of specific chemical reactions, and so on)
is called structure.
The same organization can be realized through various structures.

Alessandro Sergi (School of Physics UKZN - Pietermaritzburg


Quantum
and Quantum
Biology Research Group Durban) 17 / 40
What is life?

Autopoiesis: The universal logic of Maturana and Varela -


2

Living systems are closed (isolated) from the point of view of their
organization.

Alessandro Sergi (School of Physics UKZN - Pietermaritzburg


Quantum
and Quantum
Biology Research Group Durban) 18 / 40
What is life?

Autopoiesis: The universal logic of Maturana and Varela -


2

Living systems are closed (isolated) from the point of view of their
organization.
They are (thermodynamically) open (interacting, not isolated)
systems from the point of view of their structure.

Alessandro Sergi (School of Physics UKZN - Pietermaritzburg


Quantum
and Quantum
Biology Research Group Durban) 18 / 40
What is life?

Autopoiesis: The universal logic of Maturana and Varela -


2

Living systems are closed (isolated) from the point of view of their
organization.
They are (thermodynamically) open (interacting, not isolated)
systems from the point of view of their structure.
Autopoiesis: It is peculiar of living systems that the product of their
organization is themselves.

Alessandro Sergi (School of Physics UKZN - Pietermaritzburg


Quantum
and Quantum
Biology Research Group Durban) 18 / 40
What is life?

Autopoiesis: The universal logic of Maturana and Varela -


2

Living systems are closed (isolated) from the point of view of their
organization.
They are (thermodynamically) open (interacting, not isolated)
systems from the point of view of their structure.
Autopoiesis: It is peculiar of living systems that the product of their
organization is themselves.
Living system = Autopoietic unit.

Alessandro Sergi (School of Physics UKZN - Pietermaritzburg


Quantum
and Quantum
Biology Research Group Durban) 18 / 40
What is life?

Beyond Autopoiesis: Living Processes

Autopoiesis

Alessandro Sergi (School of Physics UKZN - Pietermaritzburg


Quantum
and Quantum
Biology Research Group Durban) 19 / 40
What is life?

Beyond Autopoiesis: Living Processes

Autopoiesis
Autopoiesis can explain the
stable existence of a living
system over an extended
time interval.

Alessandro Sergi (School of Physics UKZN - Pietermaritzburg


Quantum
and Quantum
Biology Research Group Durban) 19 / 40
What is life?

Beyond Autopoiesis: Living Processes

Autopoiesis
Autopoiesis can explain the
stable existence of a living
system over an extended
time interval.
Intuitively, when autopoiesis
stops, living system dies.

Alessandro Sergi (School of Physics UKZN - Pietermaritzburg


Quantum
and Quantum
Biology Research Group Durban) 19 / 40
What is life?

Beyond Autopoiesis: Living Processes

Autopoiesis
Autopoiesis can explain the
stable existence of a living
system over an extended
time interval.
Intuitively, when autopoiesis
stops, living system dies.
Is there anything more
fundamental than
autopoiesis for
characterizing life?

Alessandro Sergi (School of Physics UKZN - Pietermaritzburg


Quantum
and Quantum
Biology Research Group Durban) 19 / 40
What is life?

Beyond Autopoiesis: Living Processes

Autopoiesis Living Processes


Autopoiesis can explain the
stable existence of a living
system over an extended
time interval.
Intuitively, when autopoiesis
stops, living system dies.
Is there anything more
fundamental than
autopoiesis for
characterizing life?

Alessandro Sergi (School of Physics UKZN - Pietermaritzburg


Quantum
and Quantum
Biology Research Group Durban) 19 / 40
What is life?

Beyond Autopoiesis: Living Processes

Autopoiesis Living Processes


Autopoiesis can explain the Autopoietic unit = Network
stable existence of a living of self-sustaining living
system over an extended processes.
time interval.
Intuitively, when autopoiesis
stops, living system dies.
Is there anything more
fundamental than
autopoiesis for
characterizing life?

Alessandro Sergi (School of Physics UKZN - Pietermaritzburg


Quantum
and Quantum
Biology Research Group Durban) 19 / 40
What is life?

Beyond Autopoiesis: Living Processes

Autopoiesis Living Processes


Autopoiesis can explain the Autopoietic unit = Network
stable existence of a living of self-sustaining living
system over an extended processes.
time interval. The living process is the
Intuitively, when autopoiesis fundamental (transient)
stops, living system dies. building block of life.
Is there anything more
fundamental than
autopoiesis for
characterizing life?

Alessandro Sergi (School of Physics UKZN - Pietermaritzburg


Quantum
and Quantum
Biology Research Group Durban) 19 / 40
What is life?

Beyond Autopoiesis: Living Processes

Autopoiesis Living Processes


Autopoiesis can explain the Autopoietic unit = Network
stable existence of a living of self-sustaining living
system over an extended processes.
time interval. The living process is the
Intuitively, when autopoiesis fundamental (transient)
stops, living system dies. building block of life.
Is there anything more Postulate: The living process
fundamental than is an amplification process
autopoiesis for from the micro to the macro
characterizing life? scale, building complexity in
Structure and Organization.

Alessandro Sergi (School of Physics UKZN - Pietermaritzburg


Quantum
and Quantum
Biology Research Group Durban) 19 / 40
What is life?

Main Conclusion

Biological systems are


matter that dances!

Alessandro Sergi (School of Physics UKZN - Pietermaritzburg


Quantum
and Quantum
Biology Research Group Durban) 20 / 40
What is life?

Can standard Condensed Matter


Physics explain Biological
Systems?

Alessandro Sergi (School of Physics UKZN - Pietermaritzburg


Quantum
and Quantum
Biology Research Group Durban) 21 / 40
The current paradigm of CMP

The current paradigm of CMP

Dominance of electrostatics
Shielding causes the existence of just short-ranged forces.

Alessandro Sergi (School of Physics UKZN - Pietermaritzburg


Quantum
and Quantum
Biology Research Group Durban) 22 / 40
The current paradigm of CMP

The current paradigm of CMP

Dominance of electrostatics
Shielding causes the existence of just short-ranged forces.
Hydrogen bonding, van der Waals, and polarization effects are
described with difficulty and unsatisfactorily by first principles theory
such as Density Functional Theory.

Alessandro Sergi (School of Physics UKZN - Pietermaritzburg


Quantum
and Quantum
Biology Research Group Durban) 22 / 40
The current paradigm of CMP

The current paradigm of CMP

Dominance of electrostatics
Shielding causes the existence of just short-ranged forces.
Hydrogen bonding, van der Waals, and polarization effects are
described with difficulty and unsatisfactorily by first principles theory
such as Density Functional Theory.
Semi-phenomenological Force Fields (fixed charges + Lennard Jones
+ harmonic potentials + bond constraints) treat matter as an erector
set (MECCANO in Europe).

Alessandro Sergi (School of Physics UKZN - Pietermaritzburg


Quantum
and Quantum
Biology Research Group Durban) 22 / 40
The current paradigm of CMP

The current paradigm of CMP

Dominance of electrostatics
Shielding causes the existence of just short-ranged forces.
Hydrogen bonding, van der Waals, and polarization effects are
described with difficulty and unsatisfactorily by first principles theory
such as Density Functional Theory.
Semi-phenomenological Force Fields (fixed charges + Lennard Jones
+ harmonic potentials + bond constraints) treat matter as an erector
set (MECCANO in Europe).
As for biological system, this paradigm tries to build long-range
correlations from statistical fluctuations of short-range interactions.

Alessandro Sergi (School of Physics UKZN - Pietermaritzburg


Quantum
and Quantum
Biology Research Group Durban) 22 / 40
The current paradigm of CMP

Personal view

Critics of current CMP


I believe that this paradigm cannot be successful.

Alessandro Sergi (School of Physics UKZN - Pietermaritzburg


Quantum
and Quantum
Biology Research Group Durban) 23 / 40
The current paradigm of CMP

Personal view

Critics of current CMP


I believe that this paradigm cannot be successful.
For example, it is clear that both the structure and function of
biological macromolecules depend largely on hydrogen bonding,
hydrophobic and hydrophilic interaction ...

Alessandro Sergi (School of Physics UKZN - Pietermaritzburg


Quantum
and Quantum
Biology Research Group Durban) 23 / 40
The current paradigm of CMP

Personal view

Critics of current CMP


I believe that this paradigm cannot be successful.
For example, it is clear that both the structure and function of
biological macromolecules depend largely on hydrogen bonding,
hydrophobic and hydrophilic interaction ...
These are determined by dispersion or van der Waals forces.

Alessandro Sergi (School of Physics UKZN - Pietermaritzburg


Quantum
and Quantum
Biology Research Group Durban) 23 / 40
The current paradigm of CMP

Personal view

Critics of current CMP


I believe that this paradigm cannot be successful.
For example, it is clear that both the structure and function of
biological macromolecules depend largely on hydrogen bonding,
hydrophobic and hydrophilic interaction ...
These are determined by dispersion or van der Waals forces.
Such forces depend on the temperature and on the molecular
enviroment (i.e. they are not additive).

Alessandro Sergi (School of Physics UKZN - Pietermaritzburg


Quantum
and Quantum
Biology Research Group Durban) 23 / 40
The current paradigm of CMP

Personal view

Critics of current CMP


I believe that this paradigm cannot be successful.
For example, it is clear that both the structure and function of
biological macromolecules depend largely on hydrogen bonding,
hydrophobic and hydrophilic interaction ...
These are determined by dispersion or van der Waals forces.
Such forces depend on the temperature and on the molecular
enviroment (i.e. they are not additive).
They lead to the existence of long-range networks of structural and
dynamical correlations.

Alessandro Sergi (School of Physics UKZN - Pietermaritzburg


Quantum
and Quantum
Biology Research Group Durban) 23 / 40
The current paradigm of CMP

Where do van der Waals forces come from?


Dancing Electronic Clouds

Van der Waals Force

Alessandro Sergi (School of Physics UKZN - Pietermaritzburg


Quantum
and Quantum
Biology Research Group Durban) 24 / 40
The current paradigm of CMP

Where do van der Waals forces come from?


Dancing Electronic Clouds

Van der Waals Force

Theory

Explanation comes from Quantum Mechanics.

Alessandro Sergi (School of Physics UKZN - Pietermaritzburg


Quantum
and Quantum
Biology Research Group Durban) 24 / 40
The current paradigm of CMP

The big fight of the 19th century:


Holism vs Reductionism

Mach, Ostwald
Thermodynamics and the
holistic vision of matter.

Alessandro Sergi (School of Physics UKZN - Pietermaritzburg


Quantum
and Quantum
Biology Research Group Durban) 25 / 40
The current paradigm of CMP

The big fight of the 19th century:


Holism vs Reductionism

Mach, Ostwald Maxwell, Boltzmann


Thermodynamics and the Regularity of the chemical
holistic vision of matter. laws as the realization of the
ancient atomistic dream of
Democritus and Epicurus.

Alessandro Sergi (School of Physics UKZN - Pietermaritzburg


Quantum
and Quantum
Biology Research Group Durban) 25 / 40
The current paradigm of CMP

The big fight of the 19th century:


Holism vs Reductionism

Mach, Ostwald Maxwell, Boltzmann


Thermodynamics and the Regularity of the chemical
holistic vision of matter. laws as the realization of the
ancient atomistic dream of
Democritus and Epicurus.

Synthesis of reductionism and holism


Quantum mechanics might provide a unified point of view.

Alessandro Sergi (School of Physics UKZN - Pietermaritzburg


Quantum
and Quantum
Biology Research Group Durban) 25 / 40
What is Quantum Mechanics?

What is Quantum Mechanics?

Features of QM
QM is widely believed to be the fundamental theory underling
phenomenological reality.

Alessandro Sergi (School of Physics UKZN - Pietermaritzburg


Quantum
and Quantum
Biology Research Group Durban) 26 / 40
What is Quantum Mechanics?

What is Quantum Mechanics?

Features of QM
QM is widely believed to be the fundamental theory underling
phenomenological reality.
Although the majority of physicists agrees on its mathematical
formulations, its interpretation is highly controversial:

Alessandro Sergi (School of Physics UKZN - Pietermaritzburg


Quantum
and Quantum
Biology Research Group Durban) 26 / 40
What is Quantum Mechanics?

What is Quantum Mechanics?

Features of QM
QM is widely believed to be the fundamental theory underling
phenomenological reality.
Although the majority of physicists agrees on its mathematical
formulations, its interpretation is highly controversial: There almost
as many QM interpretations as there are theoretical physicists.

Alessandro Sergi (School of Physics UKZN - Pietermaritzburg


Quantum
and Quantum
Biology Research Group Durban) 26 / 40
What is Quantum Mechanics?

What is Quantum Mechanics?

Features of QM
QM is widely believed to be the fundamental theory underling
phenomenological reality.
Although the majority of physicists agrees on its mathematical
formulations, its interpretation is highly controversial: There almost
as many QM interpretations as there are theoretical physicists.
However, some things are widely agreed upon.

Alessandro Sergi (School of Physics UKZN - Pietermaritzburg


Quantum
and Quantum
Biology Research Group Durban) 26 / 40
What is Quantum Mechanics?

What is Quantum Mechanics?

Features of QM
QM is widely believed to be the fundamental theory underling
phenomenological reality.
Although the majority of physicists agrees on its mathematical
formulations, its interpretation is highly controversial: There almost
as many QM interpretations as there are theoretical physicists.
However, some things are widely agreed upon.
QM has some form of non-locality built into it.

Alessandro Sergi (School of Physics UKZN - Pietermaritzburg


Quantum
and Quantum
Biology Research Group Durban) 26 / 40
What is Quantum Mechanics?

What is Quantum Mechanics?

Features of QM
QM is widely believed to be the fundamental theory underling
phenomenological reality.
Although the majority of physicists agrees on its mathematical
formulations, its interpretation is highly controversial: There almost
as many QM interpretations as there are theoretical physicists.
However, some things are widely agreed upon.
QM has some form of non-locality built into it.
The most advanced QM mathematics takes the form of a field theory.

Alessandro Sergi (School of Physics UKZN - Pietermaritzburg


Quantum
and Quantum
Biology Research Group Durban) 26 / 40
What is Quantum Mechanics?

What is Quantum Mechanics?

Features of QM
QM is widely believed to be the fundamental theory underling
phenomenological reality.
Although the majority of physicists agrees on its mathematical
formulations, its interpretation is highly controversial: There almost
as many QM interpretations as there are theoretical physicists.
However, some things are widely agreed upon.
QM has some form of non-locality built into it.
The most advanced QM mathematics takes the form of a field theory.
Although battling with infinities, field phenomenology is perhaps more
soundly funded than the conventionalism or spooky attitude arising
from “particle” interpretations.

Alessandro Sergi (School of Physics UKZN - Pietermaritzburg


Quantum
and Quantum
Biology Research Group Durban) 26 / 40
What is Quantum Mechanics?

What is Quantum Mechanics?

Features of QM
QM is widely believed to be the fundamental theory underling
phenomenological reality.
Although the majority of physicists agrees on its mathematical
formulations, its interpretation is highly controversial: There almost
as many QM interpretations as there are theoretical physicists.
However, some things are widely agreed upon.
QM has some form of non-locality built into it.
The most advanced QM mathematics takes the form of a field theory.
Although battling with infinities, field phenomenology is perhaps more
soundly funded than the conventionalism or spooky attitude arising
from “particle” interpretations.
QM phenomenology has no dispute:

Alessandro Sergi (School of Physics UKZN - Pietermaritzburg


Quantum
and Quantum
Biology Research Group Durban) 26 / 40
What is Quantum Mechanics?

What is Quantum Mechanics?

Features of QM
QM is widely believed to be the fundamental theory underling
phenomenological reality.
Although the majority of physicists agrees on its mathematical
formulations, its interpretation is highly controversial: There almost
as many QM interpretations as there are theoretical physicists.
However, some things are widely agreed upon.
QM has some form of non-locality built into it.
The most advanced QM mathematics takes the form of a field theory.
Although battling with infinities, field phenomenology is perhaps more
soundly funded than the conventionalism or spooky attitude arising
from “particle” interpretations.
QM phenomenology has no dispute: Discreteness, Diffraction, and
Coherence.

Alessandro Sergi (School of Physics UKZN - Pietermaritzburg


Quantum
and Quantum
Biology Research Group Durban) 26 / 40
What is Quantum Mechanics?

Discreteness

Stationary energy levels in


CM systems

Alessandro Sergi (School of Physics UKZN - Pietermaritzburg


Quantum
and Quantum
Biology Research Group Durban) 27 / 40
What is Quantum Mechanics?

Discreteness

Stationary energy levels in Spin (magnetic moment),


CM systems charge, mass, . . .

Alessandro Sergi (School of Physics UKZN - Pietermaritzburg


Quantum
and Quantum
Biology Research Group Durban) 27 / 40
What is Quantum Mechanics?

Diffraction

Wave-like effects arising from correlation and memory of single events:


Diffraction of 10 kV electrons through a graphite foil

Alessandro Sergi (School of Physics UKZN - Pietermaritzburg


Quantum
and Quantum
Biology Research Group Durban) 28 / 40
What is Quantum Mechanics?

Coherence

Superfluidity

Alessandro Sergi (School of Physics UKZN - Pietermaritzburg


Quantum
and Quantum
Biology Research Group Durban) 29 / 40
What is Quantum Mechanics?

Coherence

Superfluidity Superconductivity

Alessandro Sergi (School of Physics UKZN - Pietermaritzburg


Quantum
and Quantum
Biology Research Group Durban) 29 / 40
What is Quantum Mechanics?

Main Conclusion

Quantum Mechanical systems are


matter that dances!

Alessandro Sergi (School of Physics UKZN - Pietermaritzburg


Quantum
and Quantum
Biology Research Group Durban) 30 / 40
What is Quantum Mechanics?

Main Question

Is Quantum Mechanics necessary


to
understand biological systems as
dancing matter?

Alessandro Sergi (School of Physics UKZN - Pietermaritzburg


Quantum
and Quantum
Biology Research Group Durban) 31 / 40
Quantum phenomena in Biology

Quantum phenomena in Biology

Transport-tunnelling

Alessandro Sergi (School of Physics UKZN - Pietermaritzburg


Quantum
and Quantum
Biology Research Group Durban) 32 / 40
Quantum phenomena in Biology

Quantum phenomena in Biology

Transport-tunnelling
Charge, exciton (and so
on) transfer.

Alessandro Sergi (School of Physics UKZN - Pietermaritzburg


Quantum
and Quantum
Biology Research Group Durban) 32 / 40
Quantum phenomena in Biology

Quantum phenomena in Biology

Transport-tunnelling
Charge, exciton (and so
on) transfer.
Tunneling.

Alessandro Sergi (School of Physics UKZN - Pietermaritzburg


Quantum
and Quantum
Biology Research Group Durban) 32 / 40
Quantum phenomena in Biology

Quantum phenomena in Biology

Transport-tunnelling
Charge, exciton (and so
on) transfer.
Tunneling.
Molecular recognition?

Alessandro Sergi (School of Physics UKZN - Pietermaritzburg


Quantum
and Quantum
Biology Research Group Durban) 32 / 40
Quantum phenomena in Biology

Quantum phenomena in Biology

Transport-tunnelling
Charge, exciton (and so
on) transfer.
Tunneling.
Molecular recognition?
Wave-like motion of
massive but slow modes
of atomic groups and
chains?

Alessandro Sergi (School of Physics UKZN - Pietermaritzburg


Quantum
and Quantum
Biology Research Group Durban) 32 / 40
Quantum phenomena in Biology

Quantum phenomena in Biology

Transport-tunnelling Long-range, coherent


Charge, exciton (and so polarization dynamics
on) transfer.
Tunneling.
Molecular recognition?
Wave-like motion of
massive but slow modes
of atomic groups and
chains?

Alessandro Sergi (School of Physics UKZN - Pietermaritzburg


Quantum
and Quantum
Biology Research Group Durban) 32 / 40
Quantum phenomena in Biology

Quantum phenomena in Biology

Transport-tunnelling Long-range, coherent


Charge, exciton (and so polarization dynamics
on) transfer. General amplification
Tunneling. phenomena?
Molecular recognition?
Wave-like motion of
massive but slow modes
of atomic groups and
chains?

Alessandro Sergi (School of Physics UKZN - Pietermaritzburg


Quantum
and Quantum
Biology Research Group Durban) 32 / 40
Quantum phenomena in Biology

Quantum phenomena in Biology

Transport-tunnelling Long-range, coherent


Charge, exciton (and so polarization dynamics
on) transfer. General amplification
Tunneling. phenomena?
Molecular recognition? Correlations of biological
functions in thermally
Wave-like motion of
disordered and crowded
massive but slow modes
environments?
of atomic groups and
chains?

Alessandro Sergi (School of Physics UKZN - Pietermaritzburg


Quantum
and Quantum
Biology Research Group Durban) 32 / 40
Quantum phenomena in Biology

Chromophore dynamics - Vision

Cis PYP chromophore Trans PYP chromophore

Alessandro Sergi (School of Physics UKZN - Pietermaritzburg


Quantum
and Quantum
Biology Research Group Durban) 33 / 40
Quantum phenomena in Biology

Wave-like photosynthesis

Fenna-Matthews-Olson complex

Alessandro Sergi (School of Physics UKZN - Pietermaritzburg


Quantum
and Quantum
Biology Research Group Durban) 34 / 40
Quantum phenomena in Biology

Wave-like photosynthesis

Fenna-Matthews-Olson complex Exciton echo signal

Alessandro Sergi (School of Physics UKZN - Pietermaritzburg


Quantum
and Quantum
Biology Research Group Durban) 34 / 40
Quantum phenomena in Biology

The mystery of molecular recognition

Olfactory system: Could Humans


Recognize Odor by Phonon
Assisted Tunneling?

Alessandro Sergi (School of Physics UKZN - Pietermaritzburg


Quantum
and Quantum
Biology Research Group Durban) 35 / 40
Quantum phenomena in Biology

Wavy backbone chains

Malonaldehyde

Alessandro Sergi (School of Physics UKZN - Pietermaritzburg


Quantum
and Quantum
Biology Research Group Durban) 36 / 40
Quantum phenomena in Biology

Wavy backbone chains

Malonaldehyde Free Energy barrier for proton


transfer at T=300 K

Alessandro Sergi (School of Physics UKZN - Pietermaritzburg


Quantum
and Quantum
Biology Research Group Durban) 36 / 40
Quantum phenomena in Biology

In need of another paradigm?

I believe that in order to understand biological matter, long-range


interactions and correlations must be included from the start in our
theories
The answer is: Yes! We need another paradigm for condensed matter.

Alessandro Sergi (School of Physics UKZN - Pietermaritzburg


Quantum
and Quantum
Biology Research Group Durban) 37 / 40
Conclusions and perspectives

Conclusions and perspectives

Conclusions

Alessandro Sergi (School of Physics UKZN - Pietermaritzburg


Quantum
and Quantum
Biology Research Group Durban) 38 / 40
Conclusions and perspectives

Conclusions and perspectives

Conclusions
MECCANO-like condensed
matter theory is inadequate
for the understanding of
biological phenomena.

Alessandro Sergi (School of Physics UKZN - Pietermaritzburg


Quantum
and Quantum
Biology Research Group Durban) 38 / 40
Conclusions and perspectives

Conclusions and perspectives

Conclusions
MECCANO-like condensed
matter theory is inadequate
for the understanding of
biological phenomena.
Quantum dynamics is
necessary to describe
adequately van der Waals
and polarization effects in
condensed matter systems.

Alessandro Sergi (School of Physics UKZN - Pietermaritzburg


Quantum
and Quantum
Biology Research Group Durban) 38 / 40
Conclusions and perspectives

Conclusions and perspectives

Conclusions
MECCANO-like condensed
matter theory is inadequate
for the understanding of
biological phenomena.
Quantum dynamics is
necessary to describe
adequately van der Waals
and polarization effects in
condensed matter systems.
Coherent charge distribution
dynamics might be a key to
the understanding of
biological matter.
Alessandro Sergi (School of Physics UKZN - Pietermaritzburg
Quantum
and Quantum
Biology Research Group Durban) 38 / 40
Conclusions and perspectives

Conclusions and perspectives

Conclusions Perspectives
MECCANO-like condensed
matter theory is inadequate
for the understanding of
biological phenomena.
Quantum dynamics is
necessary to describe
adequately van der Waals
and polarization effects in
condensed matter systems.
Coherent charge distribution
dynamics might be a key to
the understanding of
biological matter.
Alessandro Sergi (School of Physics UKZN - Pietermaritzburg
Quantum
and Quantum
Biology Research Group Durban) 38 / 40
Conclusions and perspectives

Conclusions and perspectives

Conclusions Perspectives
MECCANO-like condensed Find and use novel ground
matter theory is inadequate state solutions of QED.
for the understanding of
biological phenomena.
Quantum dynamics is
necessary to describe
adequately van der Waals
and polarization effects in
condensed matter systems.
Coherent charge distribution
dynamics might be a key to
the understanding of
biological matter.
Alessandro Sergi (School of Physics UKZN - Pietermaritzburg
Quantum
and Quantum
Biology Research Group Durban) 38 / 40
Conclusions and perspectives

Conclusions and perspectives

Conclusions Perspectives
MECCANO-like condensed Find and use novel ground
matter theory is inadequate state solutions of QED.
for the understanding of Devise phenomenological
biological phenomena. computer models that
Quantum dynamics is include/postulate long-range
necessary to describe correlations in the dynamics
adequately van der Waals and use them to mimic
and polarization effects in biological processes.
condensed matter systems.
Coherent charge distribution
dynamics might be a key to
the understanding of
biological matter.
Alessandro Sergi (School of Physics UKZN - Pietermaritzburg
Quantum
and Quantum
Biology Research Group Durban) 38 / 40
Conclusions and perspectives

Real Conclusion

Is Quantum Mechanics necessary to


understand biological systems as dancing matter?

Alessandro Sergi (School of Physics UKZN - Pietermaritzburg


Quantum
and Quantum
Biology Research Group Durban) 39 / 40
Conclusions and perspectives

Real Conclusion

Is Quantum Mechanics necessary to


understand biological systems as dancing matter?

or must a biologist study QM?

Alessandro Sergi (School of Physics UKZN - Pietermaritzburg


Quantum
and Quantum
Biology Research Group Durban) 39 / 40
Conclusions and perspectives

Real Conclusion

Is Quantum Mechanics necessary to


understand biological systems as dancing matter?

or must a biologist study QM?

Perhaps not for kinematics ...

Alessandro Sergi (School of Physics UKZN - Pietermaritzburg


Quantum
and Quantum
Biology Research Group Durban) 39 / 40
Conclusions and perspectives

Real Conclusion

Is Quantum Mechanics necessary to


understand biological systems as dancing matter?

or must a biologist study QM?

Perhaps not for kinematics ...

... but ...

Alessandro Sergi (School of Physics UKZN - Pietermaritzburg


Quantum
and Quantum
Biology Research Group Durban) 39 / 40
Conclusions and perspectives

Real Conclusion

Is Quantum Mechanics necessary to


understand biological systems as dancing matter?

or must a biologist study QM?

Perhaps not for kinematics ...

... but ...

I am betting my money on the need of QM for understanding the


dynamics of bio-systems ...

Alessandro Sergi (School of Physics UKZN - Pietermaritzburg


Quantum
and Quantum
Biology Research Group Durban) 39 / 40
Conclusions and perspectives

Real Conclusion

Is Quantum Mechanics necessary to


understand biological systems as dancing matter?

or must a biologist study QM?

Perhaps not for kinematics ...

... but ...

I am betting my money on the need of QM for understanding the


dynamics of bio-systems ...

... and perhaps to look at life as a peculiar state of matter ...

Alessandro Sergi (School of Physics UKZN - Pietermaritzburg


Quantum
and Quantum
Biology Research Group Durban) 39 / 40
Conclusions and perspectives

Acknowledgment

This work is based upon research supported by


a Competitive Research Grant UKZN (me)
and the South African Research Chair Initiative of the Department of
Science and Technology and National Research Foundation (Prof.
Francesco Petruccione).

Alessandro Sergi (School of Physics UKZN - Pietermaritzburg


Quantum
and Quantum
Biology Research Group Durban) 40 / 40
Conclusions and perspectives

E. Schrödinger, What is life? The Physical Aspect of the Living Cell


(Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, 1968).
K. Kaneko, Life: An introduction to Complex Systems Biology
(Springer, Berlin, 2006).
H. R. Maturana and F. Varela, Tree of Knowledge (Shambhala, 1992).
L. E. Ballentine, Quantum Mechanics: A Modern Development
(World Scientific, Singapore, 1998).
V. A. Parsegian, Van der Waals Forces: A Handbook for Biologists,
Chemists, Engineers, and Physicists (Cambridge University Press,
Cambridge, 2005).
A. Sergi, M. Grüning, M. Ferrario and F. Buda, A Density Functional
Study of the PYP Chromophore, J. Phys. Chem. 105 4386 (2001).
G. S. Engel et al., Evidence for wavelike energy transfer through
quantum coherence in photosynthetic systems, Nature 446 782
(2007).
Alessandro Sergi (School of Physics UKZN - Pietermaritzburg
Quantum
and Quantum
Biology Research Group Durban) 40 / 40
Conclusions and perspectives

H. Lee et al., Coherence Dynamics in Photosynthesis: Protein


Protection of Exciton Coherence, Science 316 1462 (2007).
M. E. Tuckerman and D. Marx, Heavy-Atom Skeleton Quantization
and Proton Tunneling in “Intermediate-Barrier” Hydrogen Bonds,
Phys. Rev. Lett. 86 4946 (2001).
J. C. Brookes et al., Could Humans Recognize Odor by Phonon
Assisted Tunneling?, Phys. Rev. Lett. 98 038101 (2007).

Alessandro Sergi (School of Physics UKZN - Pietermaritzburg


Quantum
and Quantum
Biology Research Group Durban) 40 / 40