Daily Archives: May 12th, 2010

Quantum Photosynthesis / Metamaterial Multiverse

When one thinks of quantum physics or mechanics, a picture of myriad billions of particles go dancing in my head and visions of parallel universes impinge on my consciousness.

Or not.

Whatever. Anyway, the point is people don’t equate quantum physics with plants and photosynthesis.


The future of clean green solar power may well hinge on scientists being able to unravel the mysteries of photosynthesis, the process by which green plants convert sunlight into electrochemical energy. To this end, researchers with the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE)’s Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (Berkeley Lab) and the University of California (UC), Berkeley have recorded  the first observation and characterization of a critical physical phenomenon behind photosynthesis known as quantum entanglement.

Previous experiments led by Graham Fleming, a physical chemist holding joint appointments with Berkeley Lab and UC Berkeley, pointed to quantum mechanical effects as the key to the ability of green plants, through photosynthesis, to almost instantaneously transfer solar energy from molecules in light harvesting complexes to molecules in electrochemical reaction centers. Now a new collaborative team that includes Fleming have identified entanglement as a natural feature of these quantum effects. When two quantum-sized particles, for example a pair of electrons, are “entangled,” any change to one will be instantly reflected in the other, no matter how far apart they might be. Though physically separated, the two particles act as a single entity.

“This is the first study to show that entanglement, perhaps the most distinctive property of quantum mechanical systems, is present across an entire light harvesting complex,” says Mohan Sarovar, a post-doctoral researcher under UC Berkeley chemistry professor Birgitta Whaley at the Berkeley Center for Quantum Information and Computation. “While there have been prior investigations of entanglement in toy systems that were motivated by biology, this is the first instance in which entanglement has been examined and quantified in a real biological system.”

Amazing isn’t it?

An example of quantum physics in a biological system.

If this doesn’t show that all things in the Universe are linked, I don’t know what would!

Untangling the Quantum Entanglement Behind Photosynthesis: Berkeley scientists shine new light on green plant secrets

hat tip

Speaking of the multiverse, there is a physicist who theorizes that using metamaterials in a certain way simulates the Big Bang, parallel universes and altered realities that exhibit different laws of physics:

Man-made metamaterials could theoretically bend light to create invisibility cloaks, or alter electromagnetic waves in ways nature never intended. Now, a researcher at the University of Maryland in College Park thinks they could do much more than that, becoming man-made analogies to various cosmological theories of how the Universe works and helping researchers explain certain aspects of those universes.

The theories Igor Smolyaninov has in mind are those that have to do with parallel universes or dimensions of space and time that we don’t experience in this world. In these lines of thought, different dimensions become “compactified” early in the Universe’s life, leaving the three dimensions of space and one of time that we understand today.

These other dimensions are quite different, and the laws of physics there could be completely different as well, dictated by the particular way they are compactified, etc.Now Smolyaninov thinks we can take the idea to new heights. In the same way gravity bends light, metamaterials can bend electrical and magnetic fields to create a metamaterial version of relativity. We can, he says, create metamaterials with electromagnetic spaces that possess compactified dimensions.

Not only that, but we could create metamaterials in which the number of dimensions and compactified dimensions changes from region to region, with wormholes transiting from space to space. We might even be able to witness the birth of photons in these metamaterials, the transition of which would in some ways represent the spawning of a new universe within the metamaterial itself. We could even create a metamaterial multiverse in which different universes have different properties, or wherein different physical laws apply. Bizarro World, here we come.

Bizarro World indeed.

When it comes to using metamaterials however, I think DARPA will come up with a practical use for them.

After all, an invisibility cloak based on the movie ‘Predator’ has extensive military applications.

Maybe travel to a parallel universe is a good side effect?

Depends who, or what, is on the receiving side of it!

Engineered Metamaterials Could Recreate the Birth of Extra-Dimensional Universes in the Lab

hat tip