Can long–range forces exist?

  • Thread starter Eagle9
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  • #1
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Main Question or Discussion Point

Excerpt from James Watson’s Nobel Prize lecture called The involvement of RNA in the synthesis of proteins:
The finding of the double helix thus brought us not only joy but great relief. It was unbelievably interesting and immediately allowed us to make a serious proposal for the mechanism of gene duplication. Furthermore, this replication scheme involved thoroughly understood conventional chemical forces. Previously, some theoretical physicists, among them Pascual Jordan, had proposed that many biological phenomena, particularly gene replication, might be based on still undiscovered long-range forces arising from quantum mechanical resonance interactions. Pauling thoroughly disliked this conjecture and firmly insisted that known short-range forces between complementary surfaces would be the basis of biological replication.
Source, page 2
I would like to know the nature of these forces, what means “long-range forces arising from quantum mechanical resonance interactions”? As far as I know there are 4 types of fundamental interactions in physics:
1. Strong
2. Electromagnetic
3. Weak
4. Gravitation
And that hypothetical force was (more precisely some physicists thought that it was) the part of one of these fundamental interactions or how? Or maybe it was something absolutely new understanding/idea in physics? Can such force exist in nature (perhaps not in living cell), at least in theory? :rolleyes:
 

Answers and Replies

  • #2
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Maybe it's meant an hypothetical force arising in entanglement ?
 
  • #3
TumblingDice
Gold Member
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Searching the net, I get the impression that Jordan proposed genetic replication involved an attraction force, not a complement process as would be discovered later. The 'long-range' aspect meant within a system of molecules.

Jordan argued that heredity required the duplication of a molecular structure and that this duplication could be specifically carried out through the formation of a symmetric dimer in which like parts of a molecule would be attracted to like parts of its dimeric counterpart through a quantum mechanical resonance interaction. The attraction, according to Jordan, arises through the combined thermal and quantum fluctuations of the electronic structure of the molecule. These attractions are stronger if the two molecules have the same excitation spectrum.
Source: www.pnas.org/content/93/25/14249.long [Broken]
 
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  • #4
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TumblingDice
Jordan argued that heredity required the duplication of a molecular structure and that this duplication could be specifically carried out through the formation of a symmetric dimer in which like parts of a molecule would be attracted to like parts of its dimeric counterpart through a quantum mechanical resonance interaction. The attraction, according to Jordan, arises through the combined thermal and quantum fluctuations of the electronic structure of the molecule. These attractions are stronger if the two molecules have the same excitation spectrum.
Ok, and does such phenomenon really exists in Physics? :rolleyes:
 
  • #5
TumblingDice
Gold Member
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Ok, and does such phenomenon really exists in Physics? :rolleyes:
I thought you were asking for help understanding what the meaning was in your OP:
what means "long-range forces arising from quantum mechanical resonance interactions"?
As to whether it really exists, it was speculation when Jordan suggested it, and nothing more. The only references I could find to this today are crackpot snake-oil healers promoting bio-rhythms. Hope you understand what that means. :wink:
 
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  • #6
cgk
Science Advisor
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Well, semi-long-ranged forces which ARE essential for biological molecules and result from "thermal and/or quantum fluctuations of the electronic structure" do in fact exist. They are called London dispersion forces (or if you like mystically sounding physicsy terms, then also "the Casimir effect", which is the same thing). Dealing with them effectively in the context of density functional theory is a important topic of current research in electronic structure theory.

Contrary to the mystic sounding description with "quantum fluctuations", these are really just the effective interactions between individually fluctuating electric charge distributions, and they are thus derived quantities from the regular electromagnetic interaction (and not a fundamental force per se).
 

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