Thursday, June 2, 2011

Colloquium on quantum biology

Here are my slides for the UQ Physics Colloquium. I have tried to build it around 5 key ideas:

1. Truly quantum dynamics requires phase coherence.

2. We can quantify quantum decoherence of excited states of optically active biomolecules. (Decoherence arises due to dielectric relaxation of the surrounding protein and water.)

3. Quantum dynamics is determined by competition between system timescale [which creates superposition state] and time scales of the environment.

4. There are significant scientific reasons to be skeptical about these claims of “quantum biology”.

5. The real scientific challenges for understanding are defining and solving realistic effective Hamiltonians for specific functional processes.

The key reference is a 2008 Review article I wrote with Joel Gilmore.

Overall I feel there is too much material, some of it is too technical, ...
I welcome feedback.


  1. Do you see any other areas where computational results are being oversold? Do you have a general rule of thumb for judging at which point a theoretical result becomes relevant?

  2. A more accurate and less pompous statement might have been: the key reference on the subject which I am so blithely dismissing happens to cover only a small part of the field and was by the merest accident written by me etc.