Quantum Effects in Biology

Cambridge University Press
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Quantum mechanics provides the most accurate microscopic description of the world around us, yet the interface between quantum mechanics and biology is only now being explored. This book uses a combination of experiment and theory to examine areas of biology believed to be strongly influenced by manifestly quantum phenomena. Covering subjects ranging from coherent energy transfer in photosynthetic light harvesting to spin coherence in the avian compass and the problem of molecular recognition in olfaction, the book is ideal for advanced undergraduate and graduate students in physics, biology and chemistry seeking to understand the applications of quantum mechanics to biology.
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About the author

Masoud Mohseni is a Senior Research Scientist at Google, where he develops novel machine learning algorithms that fundamentally rely on quantum dynamics. He has made significant contributions to quantum transport, quantum measurement and open quantum systems approaches to biology.

Yasser Omar is Assistant Professor at the University of Lisbon and leads the Physics of Information Group at Instituto de Telecomunicaes. His research is centered on quantum information theory, quantum transport, and their interface with biology.

Gregory S. Engel is an Associate Professor at the Institute for Biophysical Dynamics and the James Franck Institute at the University of Chicago. His group is working on creating synthetic mimics of biological systems.

Martin B. Plenio is Alexander von Humboldt Professor and Director of the Institute of Theoretical Physics, Ulm University. His main contributions are in the fields of quantum information, quantum optics, and the development of the theory of quantum effects in biology.

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Additional Information

Publisher
Cambridge University Press
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Published on
Aug 7, 2014
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Pages
421
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ISBN
9781139952217
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Language
English
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Genres
Science / Life Sciences / Biology
Science / Life Sciences / Biophysics
Science / Physics / General
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Content Protection
This content is DRM protected.
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"This is science writing as wonder and as inspiration." —The Wall Street Journal

Wall Street Journal

From one of the most influential scientists of our time, a dazzling exploration of the hidden laws that govern the life cycle of everything from plants and animals to the cities we live in.

Visionary physicist Geoffrey West is a pioneer in the field of complexity science, the science of emergent systems and networks. The term “complexity” can be misleading, however, because what makes West’s discoveries so beautiful is that he has found an underlying simplicity that unites the seemingly complex and diverse phenomena of living systems, including our bodies, our cities and our businesses.

Fascinated by aging and mortality, West applied the rigor of a physicist to the biological question of why we live as long as we do and no longer. The result was astonishing, and changed science: West found that despite the riotous diversity in mammals, they are all, to a large degree, scaled versions of each other. If you know the size of a mammal, you can use scaling laws to learn everything from how much food it eats per day, what its heart-rate is, how long it will take to mature, its lifespan, and so on. Furthermore, the efficiency of the mammal’s circulatory systems scales up precisely based on weight: if you compare a mouse, a human and an elephant on a logarithmic graph, you find with every doubling of average weight, a species gets 25% more efficient—and lives 25% longer. Fundamentally, he has proven, the issue has to do with the fractal geometry of the networks that supply energy and remove waste from the organism’s body.

West’s work has been game-changing for biologists, but then he made the even bolder move of exploring his work’s applicability. Cities, too, are constellations of networks and laws of scalability relate with eerie precision to them. Recently, West has applied his revolutionary work to the business world. This investigation has led to powerful insights into why some companies thrive while others fail. The implications of these discoveries are far-reaching, and are just beginning to be explored. Scale is a thrilling scientific adventure story about the elemental natural laws that bind us together in simple but profound ways. Through the brilliant mind of Geoffrey West, we can envision how cities, companies and biological life alike are dancing to the same simple, powerful tune.
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