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What role does Quantum Mechanics play in Biology?
October 9, 2013 @ 7:30 pm - 9:00 pm
K. Birgitta Whaley, Berkley
The discovery of quantum mechanics immediately transformed both physics and chemistry, and questions were soon asked about its implications for biology. The first era of quantum biology focused on the structure and stability of biological entities like molecules. A second era began in the 1960s, with lasers allowing experiments on the very short time scales relevant to atomic and molecular motions. Today, we have novel nanoprobes of real living cells, and evidence for biological phenomena that may involve highly non-trivial quantum effects such as long-range coherence and entanglement. I shall review some of this history, and then describe studies of dynamical quantum effects in biological systems, discussing the diverse questions that these studies raise for our understanding of the biological world we inhabit.