Home > Uncategorized > The quintessential quantum effect – Entanglement – can occur in large systems, as well as warm ones.

The quintessential quantum effect – Entanglement – can occur in large systems, as well as warm ones.


Vlatko Vedral article in Scientific American, June 2011.

According to Vlatko Vedral in Scientific American, June 2011:  

The quintessential quantum effect – Entanglement – can occur in large systems, as well as warm ones.
Including living organisms. Even though molecular jiggling might be expected to to disrupt entanglement.

Vedral continues:
Modern physicists think that classical physics is just a useful approximation of a world that is quantum at all scales.
In the modern view: ”The world looks classical to us because of the complex interactions an object has with its surroundings conspire to conceal quantum effects from our view.
Objects, like cats, are not not dead alive, because information about the cats state leaks into the environment. This leakage is known as decoherence.
Larger things tend to be more susceptible to decoherence than smaller ones. Which is why the world appears to be classical. But sometimes the leakage can be stopped even for large objects.

Experiments have now scaled things up – so that systems with a huge numbers of atoms becomes entangled and enters states that classical physics cannot explain.

1999: Observed interference patterns for buckyballs, showing for the first time that molecules, like elementary particles, behaves like waves. Markus Arndt, Anton Zeilinger. University of vienna.

2010: Found that quantum effects enhance photosynthetic efficiency in two species of marine algae. Elizabeth Collini et al. University of Toronto.

And if solids can be entangled even when they are large and warm – it takes only a small leap of imagination to continue to large and warm systems like life.
Indeed, in 2000 Thorsten Ritz proposed that migratory birds might use entanglement in molecules in their eyes – to help them navigate.
And entanglement may also be a part of photosynthesis, according to Graham Fleming.
And even bigger systems might be entangled.

According to Vedral:
Space and time are two of the most fundamental classical concepts, but according to quantum mechanics they are secondary.
The entanglements are primary.
… They interconnect quantum systems without reference to space and time.

Beautiful stuff!

Simon Laub
Categories: Uncategorized
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