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Author Topic:   quantum evolution
randman 
Suspended Member (Idle past 2853 days)
Posts: 6367
Joined: 05-26-2005


Message 1 of 11 (290909)
02-27-2006 3:12 PM


This idea has come up on other threads, but seemed like a good idea for a thread all on it's own. It seems the concept of mutations being influenced by quantum mechanics and interacting perhaps with consciousness, or perhaps with the environment informationally, is picking up a little steam. WK linked to some papers discussing this idea related to adaptive mutations.

My question is whether this is real science, has merit, etc,...? Obviously, I think it does. Unfortunately, I will not likely be able to respond until March 9th (just in case anyone wonders).

Abstract
The principle that mutations occur randomly with respect to the direction of evolutionary change has been challenged by the phenomenon of adaptive mutations. There is currently no entirely satisfactory theory to account for how a cell can selectively mutate certain genes in response to environmental signals. However, spontaneous mutations are initiated by quantum events such as the shift of a single proton (hydrogen atom) from one site to an adjacent one. We consider here the wave function describing the quantum state of the genome as being in a coherent linear superposition of states describing both the shifted and unshifted protons.

Shortened Link

The theory of quantum evolution is a radical new take on how mutations in DNA occur. Basically the theory postulates that DNA molecules are in fact macroscopic quantum objects that undergo quantum interference. It is spearheaded by Johnjoe McFadden, a professor in the UK and makes for an interesting read. Here is a brief overview of the main ideas of the theory. He also has some interesting ideas about a possible interaction between electromagnetic fields and consciousness.

http://novaspivack.typepad.com/nova_spivacks_weblog/2006/01/quantum_evoluti.html

Profesor Anton Zeillinger's group in Vienna have recently demonstrated that the fullerene molecule, composed of 60 carbon atoms (the famous ‘buckyball’), can pass through two slits simultaneously. Few physicists doubt that as the technology advances, bigger and more complex systems will be shown to inhabit the quantum world. Fullerene molecules are spheres with a diameter similar to that of the DNA double helix. If fullerene can enter the quantum multiverse then DNA may do the same.

http://www.surrey.ac.uk/qe/O3.htm

This message has been edited by randman, 02-27-2006 03:14 PM

This message has been edited by Admin, 02-27-2006 03:33 PM


Replies to this message:
 Message 2 by AdminNWR, posted 02-27-2006 5:16 PM randman has responded
 Message 7 by nwr, posted 03-10-2006 7:50 PM randman has not yet responded

  
AdminNWR
Inactive Member


Message 2 of 11 (290931)
02-27-2006 5:16 PM
Reply to: Message 1 by randman
02-27-2006 3:12 PM


Let's put this on hold until March 9th.
I will not likely be able to respond until March 9th

My current inclination is to promote this (reluctantly) on March 9th. When you are ready to discuss it, indicate by posting a new message to this thread.

My reluctance is because I see little of interest here. I believe McFadden to be presenting speculative hypotheses which are unlikely to receive the empirical support that would be needed for them to become accepted science. However I am inclined to promote the topic so as to allow you the opportunity to make the case that there is more going on here than I suspect.

I welcome comments from other admins on whether this should be promoted earlier, or whether we should close it without promotion.


This message is a reply to:
 Message 1 by randman, posted 02-27-2006 3:12 PM randman has responded

Replies to this message:
 Message 3 by randman, posted 03-10-2006 4:26 PM AdminNWR has responded

  
randman 
Suspended Member (Idle past 2853 days)
Posts: 6367
Joined: 05-26-2005


Message 3 of 11 (294063)
03-10-2006 4:26 PM
Reply to: Message 2 by AdminNWR
02-27-2006 5:16 PM


still holding?
?
This message is a reply to:
 Message 2 by AdminNWR, posted 02-27-2006 5:16 PM AdminNWR has responded

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 Message 4 by AdminNWR, posted 03-10-2006 5:12 PM randman has not yet responded

  
AdminNWR
Inactive Member


Message 4 of 11 (294084)
03-10-2006 5:12 PM
Reply to: Message 3 by randman
03-10-2006 4:26 PM


Re: still holding?
I was waiting for your indication that you are ready to continue. I'll take that post as such an indication.


To comment on moderation procedures or respond to admin messages:
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  • This message is a reply to:
     Message 3 by randman, posted 03-10-2006 4:26 PM randman has not yet responded

      
    AdminNWR
    Inactive Member


    Message 5 of 11 (294088)
    03-10-2006 5:13 PM


    Thread moved here from the Proposed New Topics forum.
      
    Son Goku
    Member
    Posts: 1120
    From: Ireland
    Joined: 07-16-2005
    Member Rating: 4.0


    Message 6 of 11 (294117)
    03-10-2006 5:54 PM


    I would find it very unlikely.
    The self-energy of such molecules is more than sufficient to destroy any meaningful superposition.

    Although Buckminsterfullerene can be shown to have an interference pattern, it would be difficult to have it exhibit cat states* or any other truly quantum mechanical features.

    However my main objection is that superposition would be nigh on impossible to achieve for actual chemical configurations. It's only observed for Energy, spin, position, e.t.c. of particles. Not chemical configurations of entire molecules.

    The other idea that is subtly implied in the article is that collapse to a definite state can be willed or chosen, which is certainly not the case.
    The collapse is totally random, that’s why we have probabilities in quantum mechanics.

    *A Cat state is when a particle is in a state which is a superposition of two other states that would be diametric opposites classically.


    Replies to this message:
     Message 8 by cavediver, posted 03-11-2006 5:10 AM Son Goku has responded

      
    nwr
    Member
    Posts: 5583
    From: Geneva, Illinois
    Joined: 08-08-2005


    Message 7 of 11 (294158)
    03-10-2006 7:50 PM
    Reply to: Message 1 by randman
    02-27-2006 3:12 PM


    There is currently no entirely satisfactory theory to account for how a cell can selectively mutate certain genes in response to environmental signals.

    I wonder if you misunderstand how "random" is being used when talking of mutations. As far as I can tell, nobody is denying that the mutation rate can be higher for some genes than for others. It seems to me that natural selection can account for this. I don't see any need to bring in some kind of quantum magic.

    He also has some interesting ideas about a possible interaction between electromagnetic fields and consciousness.

    I am aware of this work (and highly skeptical of it).
    This message is a reply to:
     Message 1 by randman, posted 02-27-2006 3:12 PM randman has not yet responded

      
    cavediver
    Member (Idle past 1598 days)
    Posts: 4129
    From: UK
    Joined: 06-16-2005


    Message 8 of 11 (294215)
    03-11-2006 5:10 AM
    Reply to: Message 6 by Son Goku
    03-10-2006 5:54 PM


    I am most sceptical of his docherence calculations. I cannot see a DNA molecule maintaining a coherent state for the immense time-scales he requires. While I believe that a truly isolated system of ANY length-sale can maintain perpetual "external" coherence, I do not see how DNA can be regarded as even approximately isolated.

    Perhaps one of biologists could describe the nature of the DNA's nuclear environment, but I don't imagine it's vacuum!


    This message is a reply to:
     Message 6 by Son Goku, posted 03-10-2006 5:54 PM Son Goku has responded

    Replies to this message:
     Message 9 by Son Goku, posted 03-12-2006 10:18 AM cavediver has not yet responded

      
    Son Goku
    Member
    Posts: 1120
    From: Ireland
    Joined: 07-16-2005
    Member Rating: 4.0


    Message 9 of 11 (294469)
    03-12-2006 10:18 AM
    Reply to: Message 8 by cavediver
    03-11-2006 5:10 AM


    A guesstimate.
    I finding this more and more unlikely, essentially it would require an inverse Quantum Zeno Effect.

    A fellow of the Cavendish Laboratory, Matthew Donald, has a paper discussing the many flaws in this proposal, including the requirement of a rather artificial Hamiltonian.

    Donald himself is a proponent of the many-minds interpretation of QM, so he is definitely open to "thinking outside the box" when it comes to Quantum Mechanics, so the standard claim of orthodoxy doesn't apply.

    Donald's Paper.


    This message is a reply to:
     Message 8 by cavediver, posted 03-11-2006 5:10 AM cavediver has not yet responded

      
    extremophile
    Member (Idle past 3549 days)
    Posts: 53
    Joined: 08-23-2003


    Message 10 of 11 (302728)
    04-09-2006 9:36 PM


    Yet that quantum events were accepted to be somewhat relevant in mutations (maybe is, maybe is not - I really do not understand much of quantum physics, but what seems to me is that is not necessary to go down to the quantum level to understand mutations), I simply can´t see how come they would be adaptative just because of that.

    It´s far more probable, if directed adaptative mutations do exist, that they´re controlled by the cell in a molecular level rather than in the quantum level.

    Quantum mechanics is a great source of raw material for inventing all the sorts of weird, new-age-like stuff...


    Replies to this message:
     Message 11 by 1.61803, posted 04-10-2006 10:57 AM extremophile has not yet responded

      
    1.61803
    Member
    Posts: 2794
    From: Lone Star State USA
    Joined: 02-19-2004
    Member Rating: 2.5


    Message 11 of 11 (302877)
    04-10-2006 10:57 AM
    Reply to: Message 10 by extremophile
    04-09-2006 9:36 PM


    where are you Alice????
    I believe the whole point of the opening post is whether the mutation can be attributed down to a quantum level. And I believe Cavediver and SonGoku think it is hogwash.

    I know that reality is quantized. There are limits to measurement.

    So my take is we just do not know how far down the rabbit hole reality goes. :D


    This message is a reply to:
     Message 10 by extremophile, posted 04-09-2006 9:36 PM extremophile has not yet responded

      
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