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Connecting everyday experience with quantum effects

NASA’s outreach efforts over the decades have touted the benefits of space science in our (macroscopic) everyday lives. Technology. How about quantum physics?

A recent YouTube video by Sabine Hossenfelder (below) is a useful start in answering the question: How does our “big and warm” everyday experience evince quantum effects?

(from transcript) … the weird stuff that’s typical for quantum mechanics – entanglement and quantum uncertainty and the ability of particles to act like waves – are under normal circumstances really really tiny for big and warm objects. I am here using the words “big” and “warm” the way physicists do, so “warm” means anything more than a few degrees above absolute zero and “big” means anything exceeding the size of a molecule.

She presents a helpful summary of why quantum physics is not just about the “small” stuff. Such as your laser pointer.

Hossenfelder also mentions demonstrations of “double-slit” interference of “macro” objects like atoms and molecules.

• YouTube > Sabine Hossenfelder > “Understanding Quantum Mechanics #6: It’s not just a theory for small things” (Sep 26, 2020) – ” … the relevant point is that there is no limit in size or weight or distance where quantum effects suddenly stop. In principle, everything has quantum effects, even you. It’s just that those effects are so small you don’t notice.

Another science communicator, physicist Chad Orzel, discussed the topic in a 2015 video lecture: “Exotic Physics of an Ordinary Morning,” starting with a toaster oven.

Getting a general down-to-earth connection with quantum realities beyond popular hype, fictional devices, and heralded weirdness may take generations. A long game. More than just talking about “something hidden” and Big Science research.

A compelling connection might be biophysics and quantum biology. And medical tech.

Notes

Leon M. Lederman; Christopher T. Hill. Quantum Physics for Poets. Prometheus Books 2011. Kindle Edition.

One thought on “Connecting everyday experience with quantum effects

  1. Speaking of the nascent field of quantum biology, this Swiss Quantum Hub article is quite helpful, with links for many technical terms and sources.

    • Swiss Quantum Hub > “Are biological processes experts in Quantum Physics?” (February 21, 2020) – The intriguing, upcoming field of quantum biology by Olivier Loose.

    [In addition to wave-like features,] other quantum idiosyncrasies that are pertinent to this article are quantum coherence, quantum entanglement and quantum tunneling.

    … the field of quantum biology suggests that quantum mechanical processes could persist in the turbulent and warm atmosphere of life. For the case of photosynthesis, … the “wavelike characteristic of the energy transfer within the photosynthetic complex can explain its extreme efficiency”.

    … scientists continue to discover the presence of quantum events in different natural milieus. As a case in point, Armin Shayeghi et al. have detected for the first time how a natural antibiotic behaves like a quantum wave. And Junxu Li and Sabre Kais have recently documented how quantum entanglement can be assessed in chemical reactions.

    Indeed, quantum biology has been delving into various biological phenomena in which quantum effects may play a part. They include, among others, Brownian motors in cellular processes, magnetoreception, cellular respiration, enzyme-catalyzed reactions, visual phototransduction, olfaction, deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA) mutation and photosynthesis.

    In this article, I look under the hood of two particular biological mechanisms: photosynthesis and DNA mutation.

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