Sunday, April 5, 2020

Are quantum processes relevant in photosynthesis?


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What is "quantum biology"? It is the study of quantum effects in complex biological systems. These studies have a history stretching back to the early years of quantum mechanics. During photosynthesis, light-harvesting occurs on time scales of tens of microseconds. The couplings between the constituents and interaction with the bath will govern the dynamics of the system

Photosynthetic pigments are held up by a protein scaffold. When interacting with light, the pigments do not act as independent units because the transition energies and oscillator strength are distributed within the scaffold. The resulting collective excitations are called "excitons." Coherence is a certain degree of spatial delocalization of the excitations in the system. Excited superpositions evolve in time as damped oscillations with a frequency corresponding to the energy difference between the constituent states. It is widely accepted in science that the dephasing of any interexciton coherences results in sub–100-fs (femtosecond) decay times at room temperature. Energy transfer within the complex is impossible during such a short time. The reaction center of the photosystem shows similarly fast electronic decoherence rates.

The incoherent relaxation between exciton states forms energy transport with downhill in energy. Since these exciton states are partially localized, this relaxation corresponds to hopping between different spatial regions of the complex. The variable site energies direct the energy flow, automatically providing a definite directionality for the transport.

The inhomogeneous charge distribution in the light-harvesting protein complex leads to varying site energies of the pigments. The effect directs the excitation energy toward the reaction center. Suppressed correlations in site energy fluctuations lead to an efficient dissipation of the excess energy of excitons. The absence of long-lived interexciton coherence on relevant time scales makes quantum occurrences impossible. 

In conclusion, photosynthesis occurs on the fastest possible time scales. The dephasing of coherences in biological conditions is too instantaneous to contribute significantly to the light-harvesting function. Are quantum processes relevant in photosynthesis? Quantum coherence in photosynthetic light-harvesting is unlikely. 


Read the whole article: Quantum biology revisited


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Tuesday, March 24, 2020

Sex differences in human lifespan apply for other mammals




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In human populations, women live longer than men. All species mammalian females also live longer than males, but there are no sex differences in the rate of aging. Males and females age at the same degree. Demographic data from 101 species shows that the female’s median lifespan is, on average, 18.6% longer than that of males of the same species. However, the difference is very variable across species, meaning other factors need to be considered to explain this variability. In humans, the female advantage is, on average, 7.8%. For example, nine out of 10 people who live to be 110 years old are female.

Females have two X chromosomes, while males have an X and a Y. The theory is that the extra X in women has a protective effect against harmful mutations and that this holds true in other species. Nevertheless, the cause for the long life of females is probably an interaction between environmental conditions and sex-specific genetic variations. For example, males devote more resources towards specific functions (such as mating, fighting) compared with females. 

There is hope for men after all; the risks of dying are not increasing more in males than females as they get older. Although male mortality is always higher, the rate of dying is about the same in both genders as they age.



Read the whole article in PNAS:


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Saturday, March 21, 2020

Understanding the Coronavirus: The Hammer and the Dance







Adopted from: Coronavirus: The Hammer and the Dance by Tomas Pueyo



The coronavirus is new. We know very very little about it. We have to learn to stop hand-shaking and give hugs. We must open doors with our elbow. We must wash our hands after touching a doorknob. We must disinfect tables before sitting down. Masks can help to avoid infecting other people when we are sick and reduces the likelihood that we get infected. All of these are pretty cheap ways to reduce the transmission rate. The less this virus propagates, the fewer measures we’ll need in the future to contain it.

Strong coronavirus measures today should only last a few weeks, there shouldn’t be a big peak of infections afterward, and it can all be done for a reasonable cost to society, saving millions of lives along the way. If we don’t take these measures, tens of millions will be infected, many will die, along with anybody else that requires intensive care, because the healthcare system will have collapsed.



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Friday, March 20, 2020

Humanity's grand challenge: hope during the Coronavirus epidemics







What can we learn from Italy and China about the Coronavirus?

Young people (under 30) have much, much lower mortality rates than older individuals.
SCREEN SHOT 2020-03-20 AT 9.56.28 AM
What can older folks do to improve their chances of recovery?
A good diet and social distance is a good start but what is we had a treatment would be a game-changer!  GAMECHANGER Therapy? Hydroxychloroquine & Azithromycin as a COVID-19 treatment... (an antimalarial & an antibiotic). See the chart below, which displays this combo's *stunning* results. Here’s the original article.
HYDROXYCHLOROQUINE AND AZITHROMYCIN
Source: Gautret et al., 2020.

Hydroxychloroquine and azithromycin as a treatment of COVID‐19: results of an open‐label non‐randomized clinical trial. International Journal of Antimicrobial Agents – In Press 17 March 2020 – 
DOI : 10.1016/j.ijantimicag.2020.105949


Image, Coronavirus under microscope (NIAID-RML)

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Friday, March 6, 2020

Is the cosmos infinite or discrete?






The number of dimensions reflects the number of independent characteristics you can adjust to the underlying system. Currently, physics cannot decide between the two contrasting views. In quantum mechanics, state spaces are infinite-dimensional because there is a parameter for every possible position the electron can be in. Gravity also represents smooth changes in curvature. But information physics shows that there is a limit to the parameters the describe holographic spaces, such as black holes. 

Dividing the universe by an information blocking horizon gives rise to compact energy space, where the wave functions, i.e., particles live. The waves can form fluid-like behavior, such as interference and entanglement. Interference is the combination of ripples on a surface of a pond. Insulation of the wave function unbound the particle from gravity and distance and permits entanglement. 

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Interference of waves.
Compact dimensions define a discrete frequency for the wave function. The universe is in constant change. Interaction switches the rates of oscillations between the compact dimensions, but it also changes the volume of space. 
Compact dimensions are separated from space top; interaction changes the volume of space around entangled particles. Interaction changes the shape of space and forms the smooth topology of gravity. 



The horizontal lines indicate the compact dimensions. Energy levels are increasing, but frequencies are decreasing from the top toward the bottom. Interaction changes the gravity (S shape) between the poles of the universe (black hole and white holes). 

If the universe is a giant clock, then the compact dimensions form its small hand. Gravity is the big hand, which indicates our distance from the poles (white and black holes); we are located at about halfway between the poles. The answer to the question in the title is both discrete and infinite! Establishing a solution in this question has ramifications for our understanding of the cosmos, for theoretical physics, pure mathematics, and even programming. 


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Friday, February 28, 2020

Visions of hope



More than half of Americans are currently living with at least one chronic disease and nearly a third of patients are managing two or more of these conditions. Patients often lack community support and proper counseling to care for their illness. Growing evidence indicates that spiritual practices enhance personal resilience even under challenging circumstances. 

My new book, "Visions of Hope" is being published later this year by Wipf and Stock Publishers. The manuscript recognizes the surprising parallels between the long struggle of chronic disease and Jesus’ last torturous hours. It uses the ‘Stations of the Cross’ as a symbolic framework in the counseling of patients. Combining the wisdom of the Bible (Stations) with modern considerations of positive psychology gives a practical guide map for coping and facing the many trying facets of chronic disease. The thought-provoking text leads the reader through the trials of despair by giving meaning to suffering and assigning value to social connections. The book does not shy away from discussing the most difficult questions the reader might face, including the need to face death and what happens after we die. Original illustrations, religious and spiritual texts bring the content into a sharper focus for the reader in an aesthetically pleasing and meaningful volume.

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Saturday, February 22, 2020

Science or fiction? Super-conduction of both electricity and energy


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An immense amount of energy is lost in power lines and machinery every year. There is a fierce worldwide competition to find more efficient energy and electricity transport. 

Bose-Einstein condensation (BEC) is a superfluid state in which atoms or particles flow without friction. The phenomenon was predicted nearly a hundred years ago by Albert Einstein and Satyendra Nath Bose. Bose-Einstein condensation was first produced from rubidium atoms in 1995 on temperatures near absolute zero. Recently its existence has been found at a much warmer temperature (still way too cold for your sandwich). The finding can open new possibilities for high-temperature superconductivity (to transport energy without loss).

Exciton condensate is similar to Bose-Einstein condensate, but it conducts energy instead with nearly zero loss. To generate both states in the same material would revolutionize many industries. Theoretically, at least, there is a condition when both beneficial states exist together. The combination of superconductivity and exciton condensates would be useful in lots of applications, such as electronics, spintronics, quantum computing. Read more: phys.org 

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