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Physics  2009 

Quantum physics meets biology

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Abstract:

Quantum physics and biology have long been regarded as unrelated disciplines, describing nature at the inanimate microlevel on the one hand and living species on the other hand. Over the last decades the life sciences have succeeded in providing ever more and refined explanations of macroscopic phenomena that were based on an improved understanding of molecular structures and mechanisms. Simultaneously, quantum physics, originally rooted in a world view of quantum coherences, entanglement and other non-classical effects, has been heading towards systems of increasing complexity. The present perspective article shall serve as a pedestrian guide to the growing interconnections between the two fields. We recapitulate the generic and sometimes unintuitive characteristics of quantum physics and point to a number of applications in the life sciences. We discuss our criteria for a future quantum biology, its current status, recent experimental progress and also the restrictions that nature imposes on bold extrapolations of quantum theory to macroscopic phenomena.

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