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Quantum Genetics Information

  1. Apr 16, 2015 #1
    Hey guys
    Do you have some info about quantum...genetics? Cuz I've seen a book on it but it's £50 so I read an article about some professor at MIT interviewing his about this. So do you have any info, knowledge, material on that subject? Thanks.
  2. jcsd
  3. Apr 16, 2015 #2


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    Do you have links to the book or article? I have not heard of such a thing, and I am very skeptical of the claim that quantum effects would have effects on genetics.
  4. Apr 16, 2015 #3

    David Horgan

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    Historically there has always been a strong link between Quantum effects and genetics. A good introductory place to start with this would be Schrodinger's 'What is Life'
    http://whatislife.stanford.edu/LoCo_files/What-is-Life.pdf[/URL] .
    The link between genetics and quantum mechanics is still very strong.

    An interesting paper and an example of the type of work being done is: Quantum Effects and Genetic Code: Dynamics and Information Transfer in DNA Replication [URL]http://arxiv.org/ftp/q-bio/papers/0611/0611009.pdf[/URL]

    A more recent example in this regard from Nature is 'On quantum effects in a theory of biological evolution' [URL]http://www.nature.com/srep/2012/120306/srep00302/full/srep00302.html[/URL]
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  5. Apr 16, 2015 #4
    Genetic drift involves randomness,QM hints at what randomness is.
    I go with natural selection being the main determinator in evolution, and therefore genetics.
    Things going on at the subatomic level play a part in randomness, but I don't think it is greatly significant.
  6. Apr 17, 2015 #5
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  7. Apr 17, 2015 #6


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    I don't know to what degree mutation is idealistically random in the QM sense; it could very well be pseudo-random - a complex system of deterministic behavior sensitive to perturbation. Both probably play a role.
  8. Apr 24, 2015 #7
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  9. Apr 25, 2015 #8
    Yes, but evolution is a process on classical large systems (according to population genetics tremendously large) so quantum effects are bound to be insignificant.

    That said, there are quantum effects in specific functions, as chemistry is emergent on quantum physics. (E.g. it seems verified that oxidizing photosynthesis has quantum effects.) But those are traits rather than genetics. So while I wouldn't want to discourage anyone who asks for information, and/or make unwarranted claims, I would say that the expected information is limited at best. I think there are comments on this thread which agree.

    I'm not even sure where to go with the larger idea. As shown by examples, the label 'quantum' is often used as a boondoggle. And the products end up disparate as here.

    - The Ars Technica article _criticizes_ the use as boondoggle overreach.

    - I would have to read the "Quantum Genetics" book of Stcherbic and Buchatsky of course. But do they really predict something worthwhile, or is it boondoggle overreach? In general the information content of protein functionality is unrelated to the sequence information of their genes, which is why people can't easily elucidate folding and function from sequence. And it is hence unrelated to evolutionary understanding.

    - The "Quantum Evolution" book of McFadden seems to be boondoggle overreach for sure. The quoted Davies seem to be a deist [from his books, I don't know how he characterizes himself], and that is likely why he is interested in speculating in philosophic/theologian 'free will'* as opposed to our biochemical machine knowledge of the brain precluding any such magic action. The action of the brain/body complex is entirely decided by its physics, and as a classic system is deterministic. The same goes for consciousness. [If one is interested in the first, what I know of, biologically motivated and sound theory of consciousness, I would go to Graziano. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Michael_Graziano ]

    * I should be careful to distinguish those magic 'intentional' ideas from the effective theory of folk psychology, where it works to interpret the complex outcome of social actions as "free will". It works, until you test it in fRMI and see how the brain-body complex sets up an action up to 7 seconds before it becomes "aware" of what it is doing.
    Last edited: Apr 25, 2015
  10. Apr 27, 2015 #9
    I have never said anything about evolution but asked is there such thing as quantum genetics, starting the thread.
    You should've quoted Gerinski (#7), too. No self- esteemed scientist would fall into creationists/theologists/ deists or any other hardcore Christians understandings of
    science. Don't try to fight over those, you only lose your patience and win stress. Thanks for the Wiki article, I reccomend you to read the the article about belief in the mazagine 'New Scientist', issue 3015 for the last para.
  11. Apr 27, 2015 #10
    I just want to clarify about the book of McFadden I quoted on #7, it has nothing to do about deism, creationism, theology etc, whatever you may think from the Paul Davies quote.
    What McFadden speculates is, roughly speaking, that we know that some steps in the supposed ladder of complexity increase from non-biological chemistry to biological one seem very unlikely to have happened by chance and at present we do not know of any plausible mechanism how some of those steps could reasonably happen in a relatively short time. He invokes quantum superposition and the anthropic principle as a possible mechanism. In quantum superposition, configurations which are unlikely are present in the mix. There is a small probability that they may become actual outcomes of an interaction. He then states that since only those unlikely outcomes give rise to life, it is not surprising that we find ourselves in a world where those unlikely events happened.
  12. May 1, 2015 #11
    I will read these articles but I think other posters have already said that evolution, organisms living, dying reproducing cells and DNA are very large systems of particles
    I am not sure how Quantum effects such as superposition, entanglement etc would feature or be measured as anything separate from the normal chemistry of the cell.
    Perhaps one of the quantum guys on here could comment about decoherence nullifying any quantum effects?
  13. May 2, 2015 #12
    I'm more like to relate useful information from both genetics and qm
  14. Nov 13, 2015 #13
    • "I should be careful to distinguish those magic 'intentional' ideas from the effective theory of folk psychology, where it works to interpret the complex outcome of social actions as "free will". It works, until you test it in fRMI and see how the brain-body complex sets up an action up to 7 seconds before it becomes "aware" of what it is doing."
    Such an experiment necessarily begins with dualism and ends without it. Even if you could argue that dualism is testable, the experiment still can't be a test because a test result can't be predetermined. Obviously the experiment contributed a result, but its label as a "test" prevents the result from being used.

    To unlock the result, the experiment has to be retroactively assigned another purpose than testing. Going into the experiment, the prior assumption of dualism allowed "awareness" to be considered transcendent, and thus undefined and not directly measurable. So the time at which awareness was said to occur could only have been the time of some event that according to dualism was the corrolate of awareness. After dualism is removed, the label "corrolate" becomes invalid, and the identification of a particular event as awareness is up for grabs. Therefore, the newly assigned purpose of the experiment is as a search for a new definition of "awareness". According to dualism, it was argued that awareness was the first event that would be detected. We lost the argument, but in return we gained something even better: a free definition! We can now say that "awareness" is defined as "the brain-body complex setting up an action".

    Free will was taken out of the realm of "magic" as soon as physical randomness was discovered. Free will is simply the ability to rapidly sift through a constant barrage of random thoughts to find snippets that remind you of something you might want to do. It should've been obvious for over fifty years that determinism is faith-based and randomness is evidence-based. But William Dembski, through his "Conservation of Information" campaign, pulled a switcheroo on the scientific community.
    Last edited: Nov 13, 2015
  15. Nov 13, 2015 #14
    Well quantum effects do determine how chemistry works so obviously QM is extremely important for all molecules in the universe. QM properties presumably determine, for instance, the polarity of water by describing a probabilistic distribution of electrons across the molecule. There are also definitely QM processes that occur during photosynthesis as the energy of light is used to cause an atp or glucose molecule or whatever to form.
  16. Nov 13, 2015 #15


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    To keep this within our current guidelines, please be sure to cite the accepted sources for any statements made. If it is an accepted textbook, please quote the specific page and paragraph, if it is a study, please link to the study in the peer reviewed journal.

    Thank you.
  17. Nov 13, 2015 #16
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  18. Nov 14, 2015 #17


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    In discussions of whether QM is significant or not, we dismiss cases that don't actually require QM formalism (because their classical formulations are sufficient).
  19. Nov 14, 2015 #18
    And my response was that it is a boondoglle.

    Thanks for the reference, but I don't read NS for the same reason why I don't think "Quantum Genetics" is a descriptive term.

    I would agree with McFadden on that emergence of life didn't happen by chance, since the best theory (in that sense) of emergence, the vent theory, show that evolution happened - we have homologous traits with Hadean Earth geophysical systems. So whatever happened, it happened by processes.

    I would disagree with McFadden on the rest as he makes the same mistake that Koonin et al did with the corresponding classical idea in their paper. Selection bias ("anthropics") selects the posterior likeliest events, not the unlikely. The latter is the same idea as the religious anthropic idea, their confusing prior probabilities with posterior likelihoods in order to attack science. Maybe McFadden does not have religious sympathies as Davies, but he emulates them well!
  20. Nov 15, 2015 #19
    So you're saying something like photosynthesis has a classical formulation that doesn't depend on QM formalism? The absorption of light by a molecule, which then causes a disturbance in the electrical properties and chemical bonds of the molecule, leads to the formation of a glucose molecule from two separate molecules; photosynthesis therefore relies on properties of quantum mechanics. Furthermore, simulations of protein folding, like the folding @ home project, has to take into account several different quantum phenomena in order to accurately predict how protein folding occurs, and a protein is significantly smaller that a strand of DNA.
  21. Nov 15, 2015 #20


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    Please cite your sources.
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