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Can Quantum Physics give explenation of why do we get old?

  1. Jul 7, 2011 #1
    Just wondering.

    Any thoughts ?
     
  2. jcsd
  3. Jul 7, 2011 #2

    DrChinese

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    Probably more of a biology question, don't ya think?
     
  4. Jul 7, 2011 #3
    Well yes but since Quantum Physics have many answers to questions. Maybe human body could be interpreted through Quantum Physics an reveal some answers for us?

    What do you think do you have any ideas?
     
  5. Jul 7, 2011 #4

    Evo

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    Please post some scientific studies from a peer reviewed journal about this. The science forums aren't for guessing, sorry.
     
  6. Jul 7, 2011 #5
    I read this -"Instability of the genetic code, among other things, caused by the finite probability of tunneling of protons in the DNA. Therefore, the tunnel effect is partly responsible for the occurrence of spontaneous mutations"-from Wikipedia. It made me think that there is maybe explanation for my question. I didn't know that something has to be already known so that we could discuss it.
     
  7. Jul 7, 2011 #6

    Ryan_m_b

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    There are many complex reasons why we age, DNA mutation is just one of them (whilst I've not heard of quantum effects causing mutation it would not surprise me, we already know of a myriad of mutational causes). Over time gene expression changes, metabolism is consequently altered and a myriad of finely balanced dynamic systems disrupt. At the moment we have well characterised the gross physiology of ageing but have a limited understanding of the fundamental processes.

    A more thorough understanding of the processes of ageing (let alone the causes) won't come in my opinion until we've done some thorough http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Genome" [Broken] view of something as holistic as senescence if we are going to fully understand it.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: May 5, 2017
  8. Jul 7, 2011 #7
    So why do we get old? How come our old cells can give life (egg+sperm) to new human body that will have new fresh cell that will live for another 70-90 years? What is the missing link?

    Is the finite probability of error in copying DNA reason ?
     
  9. Jul 7, 2011 #8

    Ryan_m_b

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    Gametes do have mutations in their DNA, this is the fundamental initiator for evolution. Ageing is a cumulative, multifactorial phenomenon. To use an analogy if I have a factory complex whose machines are slowly wearing down even if I send you several gigabytes factory blueprints with 10 or so bits mutated the fact that my machines have worn down will not affect the shiny new ones you are building.

    The fundamental reasons for ageing are unclear at this time, however we do have some broad understandings. We know that gene expression alters, we know that this alters the metabolic processes of the body and we know that ultimately this results in impaired wound healing, impaired body maintenance and the gradual breakdown of bodily functions. It varies from individual to individual but eventually one of these breakdowns will result in fatality.
     
  10. Jul 7, 2011 #9

    Drakkith

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    First of all, quantum effects are 100% applicable to the human body. We are composed of molecules and atoms and QM explains the interactions of all of these. Simply talking about UV damage to DNA IS a quantum effect. The point where QM becomes Biology is probably not clear cut.

    There are a myriad of reasons why we age, so it might help if some specific examples were talked about instead of just "Why do we age?"

    Honestly, I don't think there is any one specific reason why, but is instead a combination of effects that cause aging.
     
  11. Jul 7, 2011 #10

    alxm

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    This says nothing - all of chemistry is inherently quantum-mechanical in the end, and all biochemistry boils down to chemical processes and thus quantum-mechanical ones. But it doesn't make any more sense to ask if quantum mechanics can 'explain' a physiological process like aging, than it does to ask if chemistry can explain a sociological phenomenon.

    These things are separated by not one but several layers of abstraction that are entire sciences in themselves.
     
  12. Jul 7, 2011 #11

    alxm

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    No, it's pretty clear once you recognize the fact that difference between fields is not what you're studying but what the questions are you're looking to answer.

    A molecular biologist may aim to determine the role a particular gene plays in the function of a cell. A biochemist's aim may be to determine the reactions involved in that role. A physical chemist may aim to determine the details of how those reactions occur. A quantum chemist might study those reactions using explicit quantum-mechanical calculations. That doesn't make him or her a biologist! The physical chemistry of a biochemical system is still physical chemistry. It doesn't really matter much at that end that it happens to occur in a biological system. That's a highly relevant circumstance to the biochemist, though, who in turn might not care so much about what organism they're looking at, although that might matter greatly to the biologist. And so on.

    Biologists don't know quantum mechanics or much physics in general, and they don't need to. Their field is not about studying the specifics of light-matter interactions and how (in the case of DNA degradation) UV light is absorbed. That's physical chemistry or chemical physics. The biologist's aim is to find out things like how that system evolved, how it works on the bigger scale, etc.

    Or to make an analogy, knowledge from spectroscopy and chemistry get applied all the time by astronomers looking to determine what things in the universe are made of. But that doesn't mean you could say "the point where chemistry becomes astronomy isn't very clear-cut"!
     
    Last edited: Jul 7, 2011
  13. Jul 7, 2011 #12

    Drakkith

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    I can agree to that. It takes a general look at the field to determine what it is, not a single question about a single event.
     
  14. Jul 8, 2011 #13
    What if an 80-year old man would get cloned. What life span should be expected for the clone, the same as original or shorter. Clone received degraded DNA which should shorten his life span wright?
     
  15. Jul 8, 2011 #14

    Andy Resnick

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  16. Jul 8, 2011 #15

    Drakkith

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    Degraded? Not that I know of. The lifespan of the clone would be impossible to accurately estimate as environmental factors and behavior can greatly affect lifespan.
     
  17. Jul 8, 2011 #16

    bobze

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    Clones made by http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Somatic_cell_nuclear_transfer" [Broken] do have reduced lifespans. As the nucleus and thus DNA that gives rise to the clone organism is already in a 'used state' as such, cells being produced during development of the organism reach senescence prematurely (for a "new" organism).

    At current making complex cells, like eukaryotic ones not senescent (ie; immortal) normally involves "breaking" them, or better breaking bits and pieces of their cell cycle regulatory mechanisms. While this would "reset" the clock for an organism derived from them, it also unfortunately makes cells not play by colony living rules. In effect, this is what happens when you get a cancer.
     
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  18. Jul 11, 2011 #17
    Last edited by a moderator: Apr 26, 2017
  19. Aug 2, 2011 #18
    It isn't quantum physics or really anything related that could explain how or why we get old. It is the second law of thermodynamics that determines the outcome. However the loop hole is a byproduct(intelligence) could step in and control the process, this would be solved only when we find a way to mass produce something at a molecular level to step in where we would be clumsy and miss problems.
     
  20. Aug 3, 2011 #19
    Quantum Mechanics? Second law of Thermodynamics?? I think that's getting a little too abstract. Mechanically speaking, cars get old; their pipes get clogged, their parts get worn until it's easier to replace the car with a new one than fix the accumulated damage. I'm sure that what happens in our bodies is analogous to this. Of course, I'm not expert on this subject.
     
  21. Aug 3, 2011 #20

    Drakkith

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    I think people are kinda going all over the map here. First, what do we mean by "Why do we get old?" Quantum physics explains HOW everything in our body works at the molecular level, but as a theory it does not explain why we age. So, what is the question really asking? Why can't our bodies repair themselves well enough? Why we aren't designed to do that? Etc.
     
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