as in, if life is an emergent property of the universe, then surely it has all the tools of that universe at its disposal. Including ones we don't know about yet.
In the case of this article, it seems like quantum tunneling could be damaging to DNA. I wonder if any other aspect of life depends on quantum tunneling to function?
/end of gibberish. I'm out of my league here. Just having fun speculating.
I strongly disagree that creatively speculating about the possible limits of our knowledge is unscientific. This type of thinking is essential for scientific discovery. The attitude that you are referencing is scientism, which is an irrational (and non-scientific) over-confidence in the power of our existing knowledge and authority figures in scientific fields.
Indeed, much of the mechanisms behind life remain a mystery, and could very well involve undiscovered physics. There's no way for us to know yet how much physics remains undiscovered. What if there are phenomena as important and fundamental as say, electricity that remains to be discovered? To me, as a researcher in biotech, I wouldn't be so surprised by such a thing, because of how frustratingly unpredictable living systems are... it would be fully consistent with what we see to have something really really big that we've been missing all along.
An obvious one is photon capture in photosynthesis that seems to rely on quantum effects to transfer energy around the antenna complex. I'm no doubt mangling that explanation, so see :
For a random example of a physics article demonstrating such search, see https://physicstoday.scitation.org/doi/10.1063/PT.3.4546
I mean, in the sense that we don't fully understand how many parts of cells work, definitely, but probably not in the sense of undiscovered physical underpinnings.
> I wonder if any other aspect of life depends on quantum tunneling to function?
Possibly! It may help birds navigate by magnetoperception: https://www.nature.com/articles/d41586-021-01725-1
This has since been resolved by refining the model of substrate diffusion, but for years (decades?), it meant that some enzymes were using a mechanism that had not yet been discovered.
Edit: I just looked it up, and it appears at least one enzyme has exploited quantum tunnelling to achieve these impossiby-high production rates. That was taught to us as a fringe theory when I was a student.
Now claiming to have proof of this and not being able to prove it, that’s unscientific.
It does. It wasn't that long ago in the human story that we didn't know about/believe in viruses, bacteria, hydrogen, radiation, and a thousand other things.
It's always amusing to see people on HN claim that there's nothing big left to discover because science already has all the answers. No, it doesn't. Science is the search for answers.
and another poster mentioned the birds...
Science exists to help us understand the universe so please don’t talk out of your ass like this. Religion is at an all time low because the religious talk out of their ass about easy to disprove shit like this. God doesn’t rely on trickery he’s the greatest architect their ever was.
So yeah, we most certainly know how the sense of smell works this is HN half of us write classifiers for fun or profit.
I honestly doubt it.
Black holes are tricky, for example. But some would say that “they are not exactly part of the universe”. Anyway I think time and space “break” inside of them, and those two are needed for Life, however you define it.
Life has for sure adapted to quantum tunneling as part of the environment, since it plays a role in the rates of all the chemical reactions that sustain life.
Copy errors are not the same as damage. Or "the optimal amount of copy-errors is non-zero".
> The quantum mind or quantum consciousness is a group of hypotheses proposing that classical mechanics cannot explain consciousness. It posits that quantum-mechanical phenomena, such as entanglement and superposition, may play an important part in the brain's function and could explain consciousness.
I don't think the two are really in conflict.
That said, all the quantum stuff is incredibly beyond me.
QED will make it as clear to you as possible. Feynman conceived it as, paraphrasing, "explaining quantum physics to a housewife" which to our ear sounds vaguely offensive, but charitably construed for the time in which he said it means making it accessible to someone who has a lot of other responsibilities and doesn't have a ton of time to dedicate to learning advanced physics. It's a really neat book in that it explains the principles pretty much perfectly, while eliding the advanced techniques needed for practical computation of predictions. The analogy given is that you could teach someone to do calculus with nothing more than jars of rocks. It wouldn't be efficient, but it would be correct. "Rock" incidentally, is the Latin root for calculus.
If you find the role of the complex numbers as fascinating as I did, then Visual Complex Analysis is another great read. It's considerably more challenging than QED, but on the other hand it clarified a bunch of things for me that my high school and college mathematics courses failed to explain and just presented as givens.
The known mutational processes entirely dominate the picture as one can see.
Quantum effects structure, explain, and influence ubiquitous and ancient parts of our world, like the periodic table and DNA. Things that have existed for billions of years without any conscious being observing them.
Article says: We find it to be several orders of magnitude greater than the observed rate (10−8 per base pair) of spontaneous mutations through, for example, copying errors, suggesting that tautomerisation may well play an important role in point mutations.
What is the practical outcome of experiencing / accumulating said mutations?
As an analogy, when you throw a coin repeatedly, there will be a world where you get tails a million times in a row. That doesn’t mean that there will be anything else weird in that world.
People alive in those worlds are much more likely to see runs of millions of flips than people alive in worlds where that's not true.
If you see a million heads, you might start to worry that you're in one of those very strange worlds (where your survival depends upon those flips). Maybe there are exponentially more worlds where humanity's survival depends on flipping heads then there are worlds where you just randomly got a million heads.
The other way things might get weird is if you have a run of, say, extremely near misses towards nuclear apocalypse. The more near misses, the more history has to appear to contort to avoid an apocalypse. If you have a bunch of those in your history, it's a bad sign- it means that your future is likely to involve either 1) an apocalypse or 2) an extremely weird avoidance of one, that is basically totally unpredictable. Maybe next time a cosmic ray will zap the guy giving the launch order.
That is, if you find yourself in universe with a weird history that's getting weirder, you might have reason to believe that that weirdness is actually less weird than nonexistence and things will keep getting weirder.
I'm already in a world where even a slight wobble in my planet's orbit, or any asteroid changing course by a few inches per hour over the past million years, would have prevented my existence.
Then in the last 100 years we've been to the brink of nuclear annihilation at least three times... and shouldn't have survived.
And it's still getting weirder.
My fear once I realized this about 20 years ago was that I'd end up alone as the last living being on earth. And no matter how many cigarettes I smoke, it seems everyone else dies around me...
You don't get to start your quantum imortality path today, you were born on it the moment you first observed, and you are doomed to exist for the entire length of whatever the maximal path is.
Quantum imortality is existential horror fodder.
On the other hand it's about as solipsistic as you can get...