Science thinks that birds rely on geomagnetic fields for navigation, but do they actually use quantum mechanics?

Tram Ho

As early as 1944, Schrödinger in his book “What Is Life?” envisioned the application of quantum mechanics to biology to study genetic systems. But for half a century, there has been no significant progress in the fields involved. Until the past two decades, more and more quantum effects have appeared in biology, making quantum biology a direction of serious scientific research.

Scientists have found a number of quantum effects in biology, such as quantum tunnels that involve a number of enzyme-catalyzed reactions. In addition to this basic biological reaction, quantum mechanics can also appear in more intuitive examples, such as the wave-particle duality involved in photosynthesis and the redirection of birds in the process. migration, possibly by relying on electrons in base pairs chemically reacting in the spin state.

Although we cannot sense quantum effects, human cells can also react to magnetic fields. Recently, scientists from the University of Tokyo have discovered that fluorescence in Hela cells reacts with magnetic fields due to quantum effects. This discovery provides new direct evidence for the “birds use quantum effects to recognize magnetic fields while navigating” hypothesis.

Many animals including birds, sea turtles and fish will migrate. For these animals, the geomagnetic field is a reliable reference for long-distance migration. However, the variation in the geomagnetic field is very weak, with an average of only 3 nanotesla (nT) and 0.009º per km in the north-south direction and much less in the east-west direction. At the same time, the geomagnetic field is susceptible to interference caused by various factors.

Khoa học cho rằng loài chim dựa vào trường địa từ để điều hướng, nhưng thực tế chúng sử dụng cơ học lượng tử? - Ảnh 1.

It’s hard to imagine how fast-moving creatures like birds could navigate with an accuracy of 10-30 kilometers using such a geomagnetic field. At least they need to feel extremely sensitive in order to be able to pinpoint the exact direction in terms of magnetic sensing.

In 2018, the magazine “Nature” published a review of the migratory’s ability to navigate long-distance and magnetic induction, which summarized three possible ways to induce magnetic induction, namely induction. Electromagnetism, magnetic induction based on magnetic particles and free radicals, magnetic perception of base pairs. Among them, magnetic inductance based on base pairs is closely related to quantum mechanics.

Khoa học cho rằng loài chim dựa vào trường địa từ để điều hướng, nhưng thực tế chúng sử dụng cơ học lượng tử? - Ảnh 2.

When a magnetic field is applied, the Hela cell’s fluorescence becomes weaker.

Cryptochrome is a protein found in the retina of birds that attracted the attention of scientists in the 1990s. Under external conditions such as light and heat, the covalent bonds of cryptochromes are homogenized, forming atoms or groups with unpaired electrons, which are free radicals. According to Pauli’s exclusion principle, the spins of the two electrons forming a covalent bond must be in opposite directions. When free radicals are formed in pairs, their spin states are considered to remain entangled and related. The presence of a magnetic field splits the initial degraded energy level, creates a triple, changes the energy level, and influences some chemical reactions. According to the above hypothesis, after the effects of these chemical reactions have been transmitted to the bird’s brain, after processing, the bird can react to the magnetic field and navigate.

Khoa học cho rằng loài chim dựa vào trường địa từ để điều hướng, nhưng thực tế chúng sử dụng cơ học lượng tử? - Ảnh 3.

But this is just theory and needs more experimentation and verification. For example, in a study published in 2004, the team exposed robins to a magnetic field that oscillates at the model’s predicted frequencies and angles, which destroys the sensitivity of the radicals. due to the geomagnetic field, which in turn destroys birds’ ability to navigate.

In 2018, two studies of the molecular properties and expression pattern of cryptochrome Cry4 showed that this protein could be a candidate for magnetic receptors in sparrows and European zebrafish.

In a recent study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, scientists at Tokyo University directly observed this hypothetical reaction for the first time – not in bird cells. but in human cells. The key “code” is not only found in the bird’s retina, it is also found in a variety of cells of many organisms and is thought to be involved in circadian rhythm regulation. Although humans cannot sense a magnetic field, human cells also contain cryptochromes and the spontaneous fluorescence process in human cells is also affected by the magnetic field.

“We did not add or remove anything from these cells,” said the author of the article, Jonathan Woodward. We think this is very strong evidence that we observed activation. purely learning affects the cellular level of quantum mechanical processes “.

The scientists placed Hela cells in a blue light environment, and the cells emit weak fluorescence. This is because cryptochromes enter a high energy state after absorption of the photons, and electron transfer occurs internally to create free radical pairs. When the base pairs recombine, they emit photons and form fluorescence.

Khoa học cho rằng loài chim dựa vào trường địa từ để điều hướng, nhưng thực tế chúng sử dụng cơ học lượng tử? - Ảnh 4.

In the whole process, since free radicals maintain a state relative to the internal electrons, it can be considered to be totally affected by the magnetic field. The energy level will be separated under the action of a magnetic field, change from the single state to the triple state, and the base pairing rate will therefore decrease. In the experiment, the fluorescence of the cells becomes darker.

The experiments applied a different magnetic field to the Hela cells and the experiment found that under the action of a magnetic field of ± 25 mT, the fluorescence of the cells decreased on average by 1% to 2, 5% compared with no magnetic field. Perhaps in most human somatic cells, these fluorescence rays are difficult to detect, but if it is in a bird’s retina it can react to changes in magnetic fields.

Khoa học cho rằng loài chim dựa vào trường địa từ để điều hướng, nhưng thực tế chúng sử dụng cơ học lượng tử? - Ảnh 5.

“What’s interesting about this study is that the relationship between the spins of two electrons can have a huge impact on biology,” said Woodward.

There may be a relationship between quantum and biological behavior, which is enough to make us question other aspects of biology caused by strange phenomena in the depths of objects. basic theory.

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Source : Genk