Wednesday, July 13, 2011

The quantum of the gaps

I remember a prominent quantum physicist excitedly describing to me with great passion some unusual experimental observations concerning molecular motors. He said that there was no clear explanation for how they worked and so thought quantum effects must play a role!
I think there is a similar approach (fallacy) with other proposals for "quantum biology", whether it is understanding consciousness (Roger Penrose), evolution (McFadden), smell (Luca Turin), or photosynthesis (a cast of many). 

This reminds me of a phrase, "The God of the gaps" which was coined by one of my heroes, Charles Coulson. Although, best known as one of the founders of quantum chemistry, Coulson also wrote several books about Science and Christianity. Coulson pointed out the fallacy of invoking God to explain what was not currently understood in science.

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