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Schrödinger’s microbe: implications of coercing a living organism into a coherent quantum mechanical state

Bull, Joseph, Gordon, A. (2015) Schrödinger’s microbe: implications of coercing a living organism into a coherent quantum mechanical state. Biology & Philosophy, 30 (6). pp. 845-856. ISSN 0169-3867. E-ISSN 1572-8404. (doi:10.1007/s10539-015-9500-4) (The full text of this publication is not currently available from this repository. You may be able to access a copy if URLs are provided) (KAR id:63792)

The full text of this publication is not currently available from this repository. You may be able to access a copy if URLs are provided. (Contact us about this Publication)
Official URL
http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s10539-015-9500-4

Abstract

Consideration of the experimental activities carried out in one discipline, through the lens of another, can lead to novel insights. Here, we comment from a biological perspective upon experiments in quantum mechanics proposed by physicists that are likely to feasible in the near future. In these experiments, an entire living organism would be knowingly placed into a coherent quantum state for the first time, i.e. would be coerced into demonstrating quantum phenomena. The implications of the proposed experiment for a biologist depend to an extent upon the outcomes. If successful (i.e. quantum coherence is achieved and the organism survives after returning to a normal state), then the organism will have been temporarily in a state where it has an unmeasurable metabolism—not because a metabolic rate is undetectable, but because any attempt to measure it would automatically bring the organism out of the state. We argue that this would in essence represent a new category of cryptobiosis. Further, the organism would not necessarily retain all of the characteristics commonly attributed to living systems, unlike the currently known categories of cryptobiosis. If organisms can survive having previously been in a coherent state, then we must accept that living systems do not necessarily need to remain in a decoherent state at all times. This would be something new to biologists, even if it might seem trivial to physicists. It would have implications concerning the physical extremes organisms can tolerate, the search for extraterrestrial life, and our philosophical view of animation.

Item Type: Article
DOI/Identification number: 10.1007/s10539-015-9500-4
Uncontrolled keywords: Coherence, Cryptobiosis, Decoherence, Living organism, PICERAS, Tardigrade
Divisions: Faculties > Social Sciences > School of Anthropology and Conservation
Depositing User: Joseph Bull
Date Deposited: 05 Oct 2017 08:00 UTC
Last Modified: 01 Aug 2019 10:42 UTC
Resource URI: https://kar.kent.ac.uk/id/eprint/63792 (The current URI for this page, for reference purposes)
Bull, Joseph: https://orcid.org/0000-0001-7337-8977
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