Many important substances cells manufacture are enzymes These are protein catalysts that speed the cell s many chemical reactions For example collagenase is essential to deconstruct unneeded or damaged collagen and construct new collagen It performs its operations in nanoseconds with stunning efficiency Good to know since collagen holds our trillions of cells together Collagenase strategically places a positively charged zinc atom and a negatively charged oxygen atom to break exiting chemical bonds and form new ones But is electrical charge the only force this nanomachine uses The authors hold that uantum tunneling is also used to move electrons into position In their uantum state electrons are both particles and waves and their wave function gives them a probability of being found on the other side of a chemical barrier perhaps electric charge or just empty space The authors also hold that uantum tunneling is also used in cellular respiration an extremely complex process cells use to derive energy from food Whether life evolved to use uantum tunneling or it just was a lucky addition is debated The authors explore the details of uantum mechanics reviewing in detail the double slit experiments that show wave particle duality They also explain coherence the state in which particles maintain their uantum nature Decoherence is the state in which particles operate in a classical manner Until observed particles in the double slit experiment have coherence and take all possible routes to their destination Observation causes decoherence in the double slit experiment and one route only is taken The bustling movement of neighboring particles can also cause decoherence Thus the particles that make up living things which are densely packed have been assumed to operate as classical particles not uantum ones The author s then review experiments that show examples of coherence most notably in photosynthesis in bacteria They believe that in photosynthesis some particles are actually operating as uantum computers exploring all possible paths at once to route electrons the uickest way to their destination Again the book provides the details McFadden and Al Khalili look into the sense of smell The prevailing theory is that the olfactory receptors recognize molecules of certain shapes working like a lock and key When there is a fit the receptors signal the brain However the authors think is involved They believe the vibrational freuency in the atomic bonds of molecules distinguish what we smell Both the shape theory and the uantum level theory which may involve uantum tunneling have had holes punched in them The latest seems to be that both processes are at work Detailed explanations are in the bookThe authors explore whether uantum effects are involved DNA mutations They note the weak hydrogen bonds between base pairs of the nucleotides that make up DNA The hydrogen ion is a shared proton that normally lies closer to one of the nucleotides but rarely it moves to the other side Is this due to uantum tunneling McFadden and Al Khalili consider uantum tunneling in enzymes to be proven so why could it not also take place in DNA Could this be one cause of mutations that lead to evolutionary change The authors don t claim to have a definitive answer but clearly are intrigued by the possibility Consciousness has received a lot of attention as subject to uantum influences The authors examine a couple of specific processes but eschew telepathy and other paranormal theories The rapid firing of neurons underlies body movement and consciousness McFadden and Al Khalili look at potassium ions that move through ion channels in neuronal cell membranes at the fantastic rate of one hundred million per second They wonder whether these ions may be in coherent states with wave like properties that would foster their great speed They also consider the idea that the electromagnetic field created by all the brain s neuronal activity in turn synchronizes neuronal firing which is indicative of consciousness While they are very interested in new research on these ideas they don t reach a conclusion as to their validity The authors end by speculating about possible uantum influences in the origin of life and even how it may be applied in the creation of synthetic life There is a fair amount of speculation throughout the book but some of their assertions seem well supported and accepted They provide very detailed explanations for their positions and cite supporting experiments and concurrence by other scientists At a minimum McFadden and Al Khalili make the case for expanded research in this emerging area of study This would hardly be the first time that scientific proposals once dismissed as too far out turned out to be true For a long time it was believed
that scientists could only study uantum mechanics at absolute zero in their labs scientists could only study uantum mechanics at absolute zero in their labs in recent ears excellent evidence of uantum mechanics at work in humans birds plants and other living things has come to the fore Who knew This book is a fascinating and very accessible introduction for the general reader It uses virtually no math Rather the writers possess a neat gift for metaphor Stephen Jay Gould had this gift too and while Life on the Edge isn t SJG that paragon of science writing it does the job and does it well I absolutely loved this book The subject is fascinating and it s written in an easy to read style That Is Very Layman is very layman There s a sprinkling of humour and the prose even borders on the poetic in placesThe examples the authors choose to illustrate the concepts they are trying to teach are excellently chosen and really held my attention I recommend this book to anybody with an interest in this seriously engaging subject Spooky action at a distance still does my head in though A wonderful book describing wonderful thingsScience is not my strongest area in learning but this book makes clear an opaue to me part of physics which usually is understood through mathematics and specialized scientific euipment able to view or measure particles of atoms As a book written for the general reader it does not have a lot of math and it includes drawings which add clarity to the subject addressed in each chapter The chapters each cover a single main subject which illuminates how plant and animal molecular biology has been discovered performing vital life sustaining functions with uantum physics Each chapter builds on the previous information described earlier in the book which allowed this reader to keep up But I recommend a consistent progression revisiting the book every day to read a chapter if Deliciously Ella entre amis you are not a science geek If the book is picked up days later from the last time one may have read it the reader might need to start over re reading again earlier chaptersI was astounded that the authors were able to describe such subjects as uantum photosynthesis and the electrical uantum activity of neurons in such a clearet simple manner that someone not very scientific can understand these important new discoveries The last chapters are speculative but never irrationally so Instead I am as excited as the authors are to see if future uantum biology research will uncover about why we are alive and why rocks are not These discoveries are new to me because I graduated from college several decades ago I am very excited about being able to understand the uantum world a touch better through the examples given in each chapterI recommend The Coming Age of uantum Biology to those familiar with the slightly difficult science magazines and articles The material is made simple as possible but it is not dumbed dow. Mselves with such precision Life on the Edge accessibly reveals how uantum mechanics can answer these probing uestions of the universe Guiding the reader through the rapidly unfolding discoveries of the last few ears Al Khalili and McFadden communicate the excitement of the explosive new field of uantum biology and its potentially revolutionary applications while offering insights into the biggest puzzle of all what is life As they brilliantly demonstrate in these groundbreaking pages life exists on the uantum ed. Though these authors were arguing against the type of position Chalmers provides his readers they went too far in validating it Overall though it is great that researchers are attempting to investigate and write about uantum bio If ou are unfamiliar with the field but are curious it s worth the read You might think that this book has received four stars but if Kanji et Kana : Manuel et lexique des 2141 caractres officiels de l'criture japonaise suivi de caractres composs formant un vocabulaire de base de plus de 12 000 mots you know anything about uantum theoryou will be aware that a uantum object can be in a superposition of states And this uantum book is in a superposed state of 5 stars for the subject which is fascinating and important and 3 stars for the writing which is disappointingly poor given Jim Al Khalili s expertise and experienceIt might seem that the whole concept of uantum biology is a truism that hardly needs exploring When every chemical reaction or electrical activity in a living organism is based on the interaction of uantum particles why would there be a need for a separate discipline But the still relatively few workers in the field like uantum physicist Jim Al Khalili and biologist Johnjoe McFadden are looking at special cases Where uantum effects like entanglement have a direct impact on large scale systems Whether it s the robin s ability to steer using a molecular magnetic compass or the detail at the heart of photosynthesis there seems to be some strange uantum behaviour that would take biologists by surprise as much as the general reader And the authors suggest perhaps it is the reason that life itself can existThere are two aspects of the book that are truly fascinating One is the exploration of the way that photosynthesis makes use of uantum effects in fact could not work without it It s absolutely mind boggling that the excited electron that has to be passed as an energy source to the reaction centre has no way of getting there without making use the of the uantum probabilities of taking every path to find its way And as the authors explore the incredible unlikeliness of life getting started as a result of random interactions it becomes increasingly obvious that there surely must have been some kind of uantum effect that was involved in that process We have no idea what it might be so having a chapter titled How life began is a bit optimisticOne thing I didn t like which is a common failing when a media scientist writes a book is the way that uantum physics is presented with a broadcast gloss What I mean by this is that in a TV or radio programme where Un Protecteur Pour Caroline (Forces Trs Spciales t. 1) you only have a minute or two to explain somethingou often have to gloss over the detail in a way that means Profession Slasheur: Cumuler les jobs un mtier d'avenir you will say something that isn t uite true to keep things moving But in a bookou have the space to explain things properly and this kind of glossing is a shame It happens early on where uantum physics is first explained We hear for instance that uantum particles can be in two places at once where in reality they aren t at any fixed location and uantum spin is mentioned in a way that suggests it s literally about a particle spinning around it s notThere was also what seemed like a little cattiness Several times again as it s on uantum physics I assume this was Al Khalili there are at least four little digs about the way that uantum entanglement doesn t make paranormal phenomena his inverted commas such as telepathy possible At one point he says despite the bogus claims of telepathy If Language and the Mind you don t know the fieldou might wonder why this obsession with telepathy but if ou do it s hard not to suspect that this is a dig at Nobel Prize winner Brian Josephson who has previously made exactly this suggestionHowever neither of these is the reason for the 3 stars for writing which is rather that apart from those highlights of photosynthesis and the origins of life the book gets bogged down in biochemical details that are frankly not very interesting and that fail to carry the reader uantum physics may be glossed but biological details get the opposite treatment Perhaps it S The Difficulty Of the difficulty of a co authored book Perhaps it s because the authors are too close to the subject but I found parts of it very tedious perhaps reflective of the old Feynman observation about biologists spending far too much time learning the names for thingsOverall then a fascinating topic a branch of science that is shiny and new and wonderful But not the book it should have been McFadden and Al Khalili explore the role of uantum mechanics in living organisms "This new field of uantum biology is finding that life lies on the "new field of uantum biology is finding that life lies on the between classical and uantum physics thus the title of the book The authors do not believe in any spiritual or mystical influences rather they dig deeply into biochemistry They identify specific situations in which the uantum properties of electrons and protons influence organic processes McFadden and Al Khalili explain without math the relevant attributes of the uantum world wave particle duality uantum tunneling superposition and entanglement They begin each case with a story and then delve into the chemistry and physics behind it How does the European robin find its way each ear from Scandinavia to the Mediterranean and back How does the Monarch butterfly make its way across North America to its winter hideout in the mountains of Mexico Monarchs and the European robin have the protein cryptochrome enabling them to navigate using the earth s magnetic field I was struck by the fact that the monarchs that return every summer are the grandchildren of those that left The monarchs breed in route and their progeny continue the journey somehow knowing the way The authors note that many animals plants and even microbes use cryptochrome for magnetic field detection Cryptochrome contains free radicals molecules with an unpaired electron in the outer shell Particles in cryptochrome molecules can align their spin to the earth s magnetic field allowing the robins and monarchs to detect the way towards or away from the euator McFadden and Al Kahlili explain the uantum property of spin to help us understand how cryptochrome works It s counterintuitive uantum spin is not like anything we are familiar with in the macro world A particle s spin can be one direction or the other up or down or it can spin in both directions at the same time superposition Pairs of electrons forming chemical bonds become entangled so that when one changes its spin state so does the other Until measured both electrons are in superposition spinning both up and down at the same time When either one is measured both change to a single spin direction instantaneously Fascinatingly the spin of entangled particles stay coordinated even after the bond is broken and they are separated by large distances The author s explain how changes to the uantum state of spin signal to the organism the orientation of the magnetic field It s complicated The book provides the detailsMcFadden and Al Khalili illustrate the amazing complexity of life with the example of the single cell In the emerging field of synthetic biology when scientists create an amino acid or sugar they create one product at a time The authors go on This is not an easy task and reuires careful control of many different conditions inside customized flasks condensers separation columns filtration devices and other elaborate chemical apparatusesYet every cell in our body is continually synthesizing thousands of distinct biochemicals within a reaction chamber filled with just a few millionths of a microliter of fluid How do all those diverse reactions proceed concurrently And how is all this molecular action orchestrated within a microscopic cell This is a profound mysteryAmong the. Ng together first hand experience at the cutting edge of science with unparalleled gifts of explanation Jim Al Khalili and Johnjoe Macfadden reveal that missing ingredient to be uantum mechanics; the phenomena that lie at the heart of this most mysterious of sciences Drawing on recent ground breaking experiments around the world each chapter in Life on the Edge engages by illustrating one of life's puzzles How do migrating birds know where to go How do we really smell the scent of a rose How do our genes copy the. .
I really appreciate well written books about science when they are written by active researchers in the field And this book ualifies as McFadden is a research biologist and Al Khalili is a theoretical physicist They are both actively engaged in researching evidence for uantum phenomena that are responsible for complex biological mechanismsThe book focuses on several important and difficult biology problems photosynthesis respiration magnetoreception bird migration consciousness genetics the sense of smell and the origin of life Each of these is still a mystery and the authors find some or a lot of evidence for uantum mechanics being an essential componentI found a couple of the issues to be particularly fascinating Some birds that migrate thousands of miles definitely use magnetoreception to find their way But the receptors are also connected with sight and reuire light in order for the magnetoreception to work And some butterflies also have magnetoreceptors on their antennae It can take three generations for some butterflies to do a complete round trip of a thousand miles or How in the world is this possibleI also found it fascinating that for photosynthesis to occur plants may use a form of a uantum computer to perform the necessary catalysis And the problem that the uantum computer solves is well known it is the traveling salesman problemThe authors freuently repeat a uote by physicist Richard Feynman If ou cannot make it then The Impostor you don t understand it In other wordsou don t really understand a biological or physical process until De jongen, de mol, de vos en het paard you can duplicate it in the lab Well that is certainly the case for the biological processes that are discussed in this book The origin of life is far from our understandingResearch on this topic is proceeding rapidly and the authors found that by the time they had finished writing the book some parts were already dated So they added an extra chapter at the end to include recent results But they recognize that by the time the book is published it will still contain some out of date ideas And that is wonderful because science is a process not an end result What lies beyond the molecular level Where we can not see Please note that I put the original German text at the end of this review Just ifou might be interestedThe motor of life seems to be complicated than expected It turns out and than the previous research has observed rather only individual components of the complex machinery One or the other connection was made and a few processes were followed Only nobody knows what underlies these processes on deeper levels For example breathing heredity photosynthesis the electrical uantum activity of neurons magnetoreception consciousness sense of smell and the origin of life Moreover these are just the processes that this very oung science discipline has been able to investigate so farMany observed phenomena imply levels than postulated by established research uantum field theory opens a few doors concerning this Which of the thought experiments fits the inexplicable observed anomalies will b I have a problem with most of the new science books that I ve been reading lately They really aren t saying anything new and when they do they seem to enter into woo woo land The authors demonstrate nicely how certain biological processes such as the internal magnetic compass of a certain kind of Robin the photosynthesis in plants the universal energy currency of life ATP the enzyme process and how the sense of smell can all be thought best in terms of uantum mechanicsThose examples make up the first half of the book My problem with the book is the second half All objective knowledge can be broken down into the subatomic uantum mechanical level but that doesn t mean they should be The authors go off the rails and enter the land of woo with ascribing the origins of life the genetic code in general and mutations in particular and our consciousness as best understood by uantum mechanical processes As much as the next person I love the mysteries of the uantum world but I don t want to reduce the process understudy down to that level unless
IT IS ABSOLUTELY NECESSARY I REALLYis absolutely necessary I really tired at how many authors including these refer to the problem of consciousness as the hard problem There have been many strides lately on understanding consciousness but mixing it with the woo woo of physics the way a Depak Chopra would is never the right approachIt is a pity This book had a lot going for it in the beginning because the authors as biologist really know how to explain the physics The authors tell the listener in very clear terms what Feynman meant by all the mysteries of physics are contained within the double slit experiment Everyone who reads books like this one should take the time and trouble and look up the Feynman Lectures on the Character of Physical Law on Youtube seven of the happiest hours I ever spent This book explains the double split experiment the particlewave duality the measurement problem and specifically for the book uantum tunneling entanglement coherence and superposition Also the authors really knew how to explain the steps in the scientific process a biologist needs in order to reach coherent consistent and non contradictory conclusionsI m still looking for new popular science books that teach me things I don t already know and which don t enter into the land of woo absolutely stunning a book that with often beautiful prose describes key concepts of uantum physics and uantum biology in a way that is detailed and not oversimplified but still able to be understood by a layperson such as myself who doesn t even have an A level in physics a fascinating exploration of what is potentially the most exciting groundbreaking field of science presently 35In general I love Reading About The Smallest about the smallest in biology or physics I could read an entire book on the inner life of the mitochondria s electron transport chain and I would be enthralled I find it pretty exciting when authors want to understand the most in depth mechanisms at work in a each system I love it even if the authors take the knowledge they uncover and attempt to apply it to big systems such as networks systems biology etc The authors of tis book tried to do just that I am not exactly sure why I didn t love this book Perhaps despite my constant critiues of books that are promoting sexy science at the expense of providing a realistic understanding of the subject at hand I wanted sexy science from this book At times even though it examined each phenomenon in great detail it felt disjointed I understand the overall theme but perhaps I needed hand holding Even though I was interested in each subject present I am especially interested in how particles spin sync and enter phase transition the books didn t feel
that new or exciting It could be that I have readnew or exciting It could be that I have read many books that have provided some of the same material Regardless of my criticisms I think the work being done in uantum biology is important Particularly important is the focus on explaining how the same forces at work in physics are also at work in biological systems I like the uestions the authors raised Certainly work needs to be done to understand how action potentials lead to consciousness Once that is established there is work still to be done in understanding the uantum nature of action potentials The discussion on the hard problem of consciousness was by far my least favorite part of the book I enjoy reading Andy Clark and the Churchlands take on consciousness but cannot waste one minute of life justifying Chalmers unscientific discussions on the subject Even. Life is the most extraordinary phenomenon in the known universe; but how did it come to be Even in an age of cloning and artificial biology the remarkable truth remains nobody has ever made anything living entirely out of dead material Life remains the only way to make life Are we still missing a vital ingredient in its creation Like Richard Dawkins' The Selfish Gene which provided a new perspective on how evolution works Life on the Edge alters our understanding of our world's fundamental dynamics Bringi. ,