Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Plants are quantum mechanical

A plant's antenna complex captures light energy as excitations of chlorophyll molecules.  It makes sense that the photon-molecule interaction is quantum mechanical.  Apparently long-lived quantum coherence, protected from the environment by the protein scaffold of the antenna complex, also plays a role as the energy is transferred to the reaction center of the complex and stored there in chemical bonds.

Recent experimental work on EPR/Bell's inequalities

I mentioned in class yesterday that researchers are still refining their tests of the EPR correlations and Bell's theorem.  Here from 2008 is a report (and the technical article) of an experiment verifying correlations between photons sent from their source, through optical fibers, to detectors in two Swiss towns separated by 18 km. 

In googling I came across a short sweet essay in Nature summarizing why these experiments undo our intuitive notions of local realism.  The author, Alain Aspect, performed the seminal experiment in the early 1980s.