Quantum Biology and the Hidden Nature of Nature

Can the spooky world of quantum physics explain bird navigation, photosynthesis and even our delicate sense of smell? Clues are mounting that the rules governing the subatomic realm may play an unexpectedly pivotal role in the visible world. Leading thinkers in the emerging field of quantum biology explored the hidden hand of quantum physics on the scales of everyday life.

John Hockenberry:

John Hockenberry is an award-winning journalist with twenty-five years experience in radio, broadcast television and print. He is the host of WNYC and PRI’s The Takeaway, a correspondent for PBS Frontline, and a noted presenter and moderator at conferences such as TED, Aspen Ideas, and the World Science Festival.

Paul Davies:

Paul Davies is a theoretical physicist, cosmologist, astrobiologist, and best-selling author. He is Regents’ Professor at Arizona State University, where he is Director of Beyond: Center for Fundamental Concepts in Science, co-director of the Cosmology Initiative and principal investigator of the Center for the Convergence of Physical Science and Cancer Biology. He previously held academic appointments in the UK and Australia. His research focuses on the “big questions”, from the origin of the universe to the origin of life. His most recent popular book is The Eerie Silence: Are We Alone in the Universe? He has received the Templeton Prize, the Royal Society’s Faraday Prize, the Kelvin Medal of the UK Institute of Physics, the Robinson Cosmology Prize, and many book awards. He is a member of the Order of Australia and a recipient of the Bicentenary Medal of Chile. The asteroid (6870) Pauldavies is named in his honor.

Seth Lloyd:

Working with a variety of groups to construct and operate quantum computers and quantum communication systems, Seth Lloyd is the first person to develop a realizable model for quantum computation. His research focuses on the role of information in complex systems and the quantum mechanics of living systems (known as `quantum life’), economics, and cosmology.

Lloyd is the author of over a hundred scientific papers, including the publication Programming the Universe. He is currently the professor of quantum-mechanical engineering at MIT and the director of the W.M. Keck Center for Extreme Quantum Information Theory.

Thorsten Ritz:

Thorsten Ritz is a biophysicist interested in the role of quantum mechanics in biological systems, ranging from photosynthetic light harvesting systems to sensory cells. He has championed the idea that a quantum mechanical reaction may lie at the heart of the magnetic compass of birds and other animals. Straddling and often breaking the barriers between theory and experiment and physics and biology, he has worked with biologists to provide the first experimental evidence supporting a quantum-based compass in birds.

He is currently an associate professor of physics and astronomy at the University of California, Irvine. His work has received national and international recognition, including awards from the Royal Institute of Navigation (UK), Institute of Physics (UK), American Physical Society, Alfred P. Sloan Foundation, and the Research Cooperation.

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