Mechanics And The Collective Unconscious
classical pysics can be said to have begun at the time of Copernicus (1473
- 1543), whose work was followed up by Galileo (1564 - 1642), Kepler (1571
- 1630) and eventually Isaac Newton (1642 - 1727). And we give the name
Newtonian physics to the over-arching structure of the laws of mechanics
he created. Descartes (1596 - 1650) may be said to have been the leading
figure in the development of a philosophical structure to underpin the
developing deterministic universal theory on which Newton set the coping
course it didn't end with Newton: James Clerk Maxwell (1831 - 1879), perhaps
the most luminous of Newton's successors, produced a matching set of theories
dealing with electromagnetism and optics, showing that light, magnetism
and electricity travel as waves, at the speed of light, apparently overturning
Newton's belief that light was corpuscular in nature.
the late 19th century, many leading scientists regarded study of the physical
universe as a done deal, with a few blank spaces remaining to be filled
in by further detailed research. But the wave/particle dissonance remained
essentially unexplained, and in time would undermine the Newtonian and
in order of their birth dates are the key scientists who progressed the
destruction of the classical model of the universe.
Planck, 1858 - 1947, established in 1900 that energy
could be emitted only in quanta, and this is taken to be the foundation
stone of quantum mechanics.
Lenard, 1862 - 1947, studied cathode rays and photoelectric effects,
showing at the end of the 19th century that their behaviour was not consistent
with classical electromagnetic wave theory.
In order to explain Lenard's results, Albert Einstein,
1879 - 1955, published a paper establishing the quantum basis of the photoelectric
effect in 1905, known as the 'light-quantum hypothesis'; in the same year
he also published his special theory of relativity.
Bohr, 1885 - 1962, described the structure of the
atom, with electrons emitting photons (quanta) as they move from one energy
level (orbit) to another, mostly in the early 1920s.
Schrodinger, 1887 - 1961, contributed to the
developing theoretical basis of quantum mechanics in the 1920s with Schrodinger's
Equation, which is a basis for the description of wave mechanics. To some
extent this was in competition with the work of Bohr and Heisenberg, which
focused more on a 'particle' approach (known as the Copenhagen interpretation).
Later the two approaches were reconciled.
Holly Compton, 1892 - 1962, discovered the Compton
effect, in which the collision of a photon with an electron provides direct
evidence of wave-particle duality (early 1920s).
Ernst Pauli, 1900 – 1958, extended quantum
mechanics with his exclusion principle and the theory of nonrelativistic
spin, for which he received a Nobel prize. The exclusion principle states
that two identical fermions (particles with half-integer spin) cannot
occupy the same quantum state simultaneously.
Heisenberg, 1901 - 1976, published in 1925 a
paper establishing much of the theoretical basis of quantum mechanics;
he described the 'uncertainty principle' in 1927, according to which energy
travels on the basis of a probability distribution. Attempts to measure
a given packet of energy result in the 'collapse' of the probabilistic
wave function into a particle; but you can measure only one of the particle's
key attributes, position or momentum, not both. Heisenberg's actual words
were (translated): "The more precisely the position is determined,
the less precisely the momentum is known in this instant, and vice versa."
Ever since there has been discussion (unresolved) as to whether the act
of measuring a particle actually changes the physical characteristics
of the particle or merely seems to do so to the measurer.
of the results of the theoretical work of the 1920s was the reaffirmation
of the principle of 'locality', i.e. that a material object can only be
affected by forces acting immediately upon it. But it became clear to
Einstein in the early 1930s that the theory of quantum mechanics implied
the existence of 'entanglement', a state that comes about when one particle
divides into two: the 'entangled' particles, even when at a distance from
one another, can affect one another's properties. Thus, measuring the
spin of one particle (causing 'collapse' of the wave function) instantaneously
affects the spin of the other, entangled particle.
was unhappy with the direction that quantum theory was taking ("God
does not play dice with the universe" was one famous remark, and
after quantum entanglement had been demonstrated, he called it "spooky
action at at distance"). Along with co-workers Boris Poldolsky (1896
- 1966) and Nathan Rosen (1909 - 1995), the three stated the 'EPR
Paradox', being either that entanglement implies non-locality, or
that there are 'hidden variables' attached to the entangled particles,
the latter being the explanation preferred by Einstein. The paradox remained
unresolved until in 1964 John Stewart Bell posited
Bell's Theorem, whose subsequent experimental validation (eg Aspect
et al, 1982) has largely demolished the idea of 'hidden variables'
and established 'non-locality' as a key principle of quantum mechanics.
Bell's Theorem is widely accepted as having been validated, there remain
some loopholes, of which the most significant are the 'detection' loophole
and the 'locality' loophole. Proofs of Bell's theorem depend on the detection
and measurement of photons, and it is experimentally very difficult to
detect a high proportion of the photons being generated. As long as some
photons escape detection, there is a theoretical possibiity that the escapees
are different from the ones that are caught (in effect, that there is
an undiscovered hidden variable). The locality loophole results from the
possibility that one measurement could 'contaminate' another measurement;
thus the only way to avoid it is to complete each next measurement before
the previous one could have been communicated (at the speed of light,
further loophole is concerned with 'freedom of choice': if in fact the
results of an experiment were determined in advance (by God or the universe
or whatever) then a fair sample of photons will be impossible to achieve.
Such theories are known as 'superdeterministic' and in their nature are
hard to disprove. For what it is worth, Bell himself rejected superdeterminism
as being highly implausible.
the 50 years since Bell published his inequality, experiments have come
ever closer to closing all three loopholes. Giustina
et al (2013) state:
'. . . we use photons and high-efficiency superconducting detectors
to violate a Bell inequality closing the fair-sampling loophole, i.e.
without assuming that the sample of measured photons accurately represents
the entire ensemble. Additionally, we demonstrate that our setup can
realize one-sided device-independent quantum key distribution on both
sides. This represents a significant advance relevant to both fundamental
tests and promising quantum applications.
note that with our experiment, photons are the first physical system
for which each of these three assumptions has been successfully addressed,
albeit in different experiments.'
further recent experiment which closes the fair-sampling and detection
loopholes, although not the location loophole, is reported by B
G Christensen et al. (2013).
2015, an experiment conducted by a team led by Ronald
Hanson of Delft University of Technology, with a report published
in the October edition of Nature, claimed to have firmly closed both the
'detection' and the 'locality' loopholes.
researchers started with two unentangled electrons sitting in diamond
crystals held in different labs on the Delft campus, 1.3 kilometres
apart. Each electron was individually entangled with a photon, and both
of those photons were then zipped to a third location. There, the two
photons were entangled with each other — and this caused both
their partner electrons to become entangled, too.'
experiment generated 245 pairs of entangled electrons over nine days,
clearly violating Bell's inequality, in a way that closed both loopholes
at once: because the electrons were easy to monitor, the detection loophole
was not an issue, and they were sufficiently separated to close the communication
loophole in addition.
researchers, like most others, express themselves as being unconcerned
about the 'freedom of choice' loophole.
is therefore a done deal, to all intents and purposes, and physicists
are faced with the fact that there is a 'field' (call it what you will,
a space, a medium) in which the supposedly immutable laws of physical
science do not operate. Quantum scientists have been saying this through
their mathematics for the best part of a hundred years, yet mainstream
scientists have always managed to wriggle out of the consequences. Now
there is no wriggle-room left!
far, quantum mechanics has been successful at providing a theoretical
basis both for classical mechanics and electromagnetic effects, and for
all of the 19th and 20th century irregular results which contradicted
the classical scheme of things. What it has not done is to make the universe
comprehensible to humans, whether they be milkmaids, masters of the universe
or research physicists.
As regards the impact of quantum mechanisms on biological evolution, a
certain amount of progress has been made in linking the two.
We do have at least one well-described example of the use of quantum effects
in organic cell assemblies, and a number of speculative possibilities,
some of which have been given a thorough theoretical and/or mathematical
Engel et al (2007) studied the mechanism of photosynthesis in the
Fenna-Matthews-Olson bacteriochorophyll complex, found in green sulphur
bacteria, and demonstrated the role of quantum coherence in improving
the performance of energy transfer from a light-harvesting antenna to
the central reaction centre. The quantum coherence (i.e. continuation
of the state of entanglement) is much longer lived than might have been
In 2012 Engel
and Elad Harel published a paper extending the work on quantum involvement
in photosynthesis to a study of the light-harvesting complex of purple
bacteria, showing that quantum effects help to optimize the transfer of
energy among variously available pathways. Once again, quantum coherence
was long-lasting, even at room temperature.
In 2014 O'Reilly
and Olaya-Castro examined energy transfer by light-gathering macro-molecules
of a type frequently found in cyanobacteria, some algaes and higher plants,
employing molecular vibrations at room temperature which cannot be described
using classical physics. These quantum effects can be prompted upon incoherent
input of excitation, and the authors suggest that 'investigation of the
non-classical properties of vibrational motions assisting excitation and
charge transport, photoreception and chemical sensing processes could
be a touchstone for revealing a role for non-trivial quantum phenomena
Yasser Omar of the
University of Lisbon has reported (2014 and 2016)
on the existence of quantum coherence in energy transport phenomena in
photosynthetic complexes at room temperature. Curiously, the efficiency
of transport varied inversely with the degree of order in the structures
studied: very symmetrical structures experienced low levels of transport
efficiency, whereas more disordered structures saw more efficient transport
even though the degree of coherence might be lower.
Omar explains that the
efficiency of the energy transfer process is helped by a quantum phenomenon
known as the superposition principle, which means that the energy is able
to travel down every route towards the plant’s reaction centre at
the same time.
project is trying to understand how come these quantum effects can be
there when they shouldn’t be, because you would expect all the environmental
effects would kill the quantumness,’ he said.
using a combination of experimentation and theoretical models, the team
has found that quantum effects are preserved in photosynthesis precisely
because of the disorder created by the natural vibrations of molecules
in the plant.
quantum biology was a known field of research by the middle of the 20th
century, it has not attracted as much attention as some other disciplines.
However, there are now signs of life in quantum biology, some of which
are described below, see e.g. Lambert (2013).
1999, Al-Khalilib and McFadden published a biological
cell model which showed the feasibility of accounting for the phenomenon
of adaptive mutations (which appear to contradict the established rules
of neo-Darwinian evolutionary biology) through the operation of quantum
effects at cell level. They demonstrate that quantum coherence can be
maintained over biologically significant periods of time (multiple seconds),
and that a mutating DNA cell with quantum coherence can exist in a superposition
with the external environment while it, so to speak, 'tests' possible
mutations against the environment (employing the reverse quantum Xeno
effect) until a point at which the cell decoheres (the superposition collapses)
leaving an adaptive mutation. This work is discussed more fully in Chapter
Four, Evolution Revisited.
A paper by Johann
Summhammer, leader of the Experimental Quantum
Physics and Solar Cells Group at Vienna University, written in 2006, proposed
a model for quantum-assisted cooperation between two insects, in one case
two ants pushing an object and in another two butterflies looking for
each other. His mathematical analysis of how such cooperation might work
on the basis of quantum entanglement concludes that both tasks can be
performed up to twice as effectively if quantum effects are employed,
without there needing to be any communication as such between the two
animals. The writer admits that his analysis is heavily over-simplified,
and merely wishes to establish that the employment of quantum-based effects
can provide a survival advantage in general terms.
Si (2010) described a mathematical model of the working of individual
muscle fibres from water insect Lethocerus Maximus in which a
quantum chain of molecular level motors is proposed as a more satisfactory
explanation for the force-velocity relationship than classical physics
In 2012, Summhammer
et al modelled ion channels that conduct electrical membrane signals
in the nervous system, building potentials that propagate along the membranes.
The model shows that alkali ions can become highly delocalized in the
filter region of proteins at warm temperatures, so that quantum effects
result in faster and more selective transmission of ions. Say the authors:
'Our results provide the first evidence that quantum mechanical properties
are needed to explain a fundamental biological property such as ion-selectivity
in trans-membrane ion-currents and the effect on gating kinetics and shaping
of classical conductances in electrically excitable cells'.
generally, refers to the fact that a particle can sometimes surmount a
potential barrier which ought to defeat it because its probabilistic wave
function includes a low probability of its existence on the other side
of the barrier. It has been described in a number of scientific disciplines,
and in particular in quantum biology, in which it is said to account for
the otherwise unexpected speed of enzyme-driven physiological reactions
taking place at room temperature. See, e.g., Nagel
et al (2012).
Quantum effects are
also thought to be important in the process of phototransduction, used
in the retina of the eye to convert incoming photons into visual signals,
something that happens at an extremely rapid rate. See for instance Sia
et al (2014).
Briegel, (2009), a professor of theoretical physics at the University
of Innsbruck, and colleagues Jianming Cai and Gian Giacomo Guerreschi
have studied the role of quantum effects in avian navigation, establishing
a theoretical basis for how entanglement could persist in a cyclic organic
environment, although the work has been attacked by some other researchers.
Birds are thought to be able to 'vizualize' magnetic maps as an aid to
navigation, and quantum effects could improve the efficiency of the mechanism.
'Radical pairs' (pairs of transient radicals created simultaneously, with
correlated electron spins) are thought to be involved in the process,
and the theory suggests that at least in relatively short-lived pairs,
entanglement probably plays a major role.
In later work, Briegel
et al (2012) showed that entanglement can persist despite, and apparently
because of, extremely 'noisy' environments, which suggests to them that
long-term entanglement is feasible in complex biological assemblies.
(2011) surveys the then-current state of research into birds' magnetic
compass, concluding that while the biophysical basis of this compass remains
unknown, there is a growing body of evidence in support of a quantum-based
radical-pair mechanism as the basis for the compass.
A biological compass
needle has been described In work reported in November, 2015, by a team
of Chinese researchers led by Xie Can (see Qin). Studying
fruit flies (drosophila), they found a rod-shaped complex of proteins
that can align with Earth’s weak magnetic field. It was known previously
that fruit flies' magnetic orientation depended on a protein named 'Cry',
short for cryptochrome; however, on its own, Cry cannot determine orientation;
the Chinese researchers say that they have found a protein in fruit flies,
known as CG8198, and termed MagR that both binds to iron and interacts
with Cry with which it forms a nanoscale ‘needle’: a rod-like
core of CG8198 polymers with an outer layer of Cry proteins that twists
around the core. The needle orients itself in the Earth's magnetic field.
MagR in Drosophila, Xie and his colleagues screened the genomes of several
other animal species, finding genes for both Cry and MagR in virtually
all of them, including in butterflies, pigeons, robins, rats, mole rats,
sharks, turtles, and humans. “This protein is evolutionarily conserved
across different classes of animals (from butterflies to pigeons, rats,
and humans),” Xie wrote.
In 2016, Czech researchers
published a study (see Bazalova et al) showing
that a Cry protein mediates directional magnetoreception in the retina
A coherent theory
of the involvement of quantum phenomena in geolocation is not yet extant,
but the work described in this section and the last one is highly suggestive
of a prominent quantum role in the workings of the eye across a wide range
of species both in relation to vision as such and also in relation to
Popp, born 1938 has specialized in the study of biophotons. Dr. Popp
became an Invited Member of the New York Academy of Sciences and an Invited
Foreign Member of the Russian Academy of Natural Sciences (RANS). Popp
is the founder of the International Institute of Biophysics in Neuss (1996),
Germany, an international network of 19 research groups from 13 countries
involved in biophoton research and coherence systems in biology. His work
provides a basis for theories of communication between bodies of cells
(including organs and independent organisms) based on the emission of
photons, which have quantum characteristics as well as obeying Maxwellian
wave theory. Biophoton emission and 'delayed luminescence' are closely
but not uniquely linked to cell division.
In daphnia magna,
for example, photon emission is shown to be the mechanism for controlling
the density of animals at an optimal level, while in dinoflagellates
(fireflies) the synchronization of flickering between two separate colonies
is shown to result from bioluminescence effects, especially since it still
takes place even when there is a considerable degree of separation between
and his colleagues (2003) describe an organism as a macroscopic quantum
system; they propose that the molecules of the organism form part of a
unified, coherent radiation field in which biophotons can be treated as
being emitted by the organism as a whole. Cancerous
growth of a cell assembly can be seen as a failure of coherence to match
Popp's views have some experimental foundation, they are disputed by many
researchers in the field, who prefer a biochemical explanation for the
emission of photons.
it would not be right to say that quantum computing is already a reality,
a vast amount of research is being thrown at the possibility of it, both
in academia and in the research labs of the sorts of large company that
might employ it, if one day it existed in commercially useful form. A
particularly interesting collaboration is between Google and Professor
John Martinis (UCSB), with the explicit goal of creating commercializable
quantum computers. Martinis and his group at UCSB have published multiple
papers on related subjects, e.g. Fowler (2014),
dealing with error detection in qubit assemblies. Google collaborator,
Canadian company D-Wave, claims to have constructed a 512-qubit quantum
computing employs qubits in place of the bits used in classical computing.
A qubit resides in an atom, an ion, a photon, or possibly an anyon, and
has quantum superposition. Typically, it is entangled with one or more
fellow qubits, and it is this assembly of entangled qubits that can function
as a computer. In principle, the values of all the entangled components
change instantaneously when one of them changes, and measuring the 'output'
of the assembly, being the sum of the probabilities of a specified set
of qubit states, gives an extremely rapid result. There are plentiful
technical problems to solve, notably that of maintaining the coherence
of entangled qubits and their individual superpositions without using
temperatures close to absolute zero, and the difficulty of measuring the
state of a qubit without causing its wave function to collapse.
particular aspect of quantum computing that has received a great deal
of attention is so-called 'teleportation', in which the state of a qubit
is transferred to a remote, enangled qubit. An observer of the remote
qubit can therefore know the state of the original qubit. However, the
process still requires the transfer of accompanying information by classical
methods. There is a large literature, e.g. Xiao-Hui Bao
et al (2012).
Unresolved Quantum Questions
major problems raised by quantum mechanics, sketched out above, can be
said to be those of wave/particle duality, the measurement problem, and
the fact of non-locality, none of which have physical explanations that
are in any sense related to the existing body of scientific knowledge.
has not stopped philosophers and others from coming up with theories to
explain quantum mechanics, and some of these theories will be examined
at a later stage of this work.
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