As top human scientists dream of someday creating a quantum computer, are we lagging far behind plants? io9 reports:
Biophysicists theorize that plants tap into the eerie world of quantum entanglement during photosynthesis. Evidence to date has been purely circumstantial, but now, scientists have discovered a feature of plants that cannot be explained by classical physics.
In a way, they’re like mini-quantum computers capable of scanning all possible options in order to choose the most efficient paths or solutions. For plants, this means the ability to make the most of the energy they receive and then deliver that energy from leaves with near perfect efficiency.
The going theory is that plants have light-gathering macromolecules in their cells that can transfer energy via molecular vibrations — vibrations that have no equivalents in classical physics.
In the new study, UCL researchers identified a specific feature in biological systems that can only be predicted by quantum physics. The team learned that the energy transfer in the light-harvesting macromolecules is facilitated by specific vibrational motions of the chromophores. Quantum effects improve the efficiency of plant photosynthesis in a way that classical physics cannot allow.