From Molecules to Migration: How Quantum Physics Can Explain the Compass of Birds
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The world of quantum physics appears mysterious, even spooky, and far removed from everyday phenomena we can observe in the world around us. Especially the realm of living organisms was thought to be far too disorganized and noisy for quantum phenomena to play a role. Recently, however, clues have been mounting that the rules governing the subatomic world may play an unexpectedly pivotal role for phenomena in biology. One particularly fascinating example of this emerging field of quantum biology is bird navigation. Even without GPS, birds are able to travel up to thousands of miles and return to their original location, aided by a physiological magnetic compass sense. Despite having been discovered more than 50 years ago, the underlying mechanism for this “sixth sense” still remains a mystery. Thorsten Ritz will present evidence for the idea that a quantum mechanical reaction may lie at the heart of the magnetic compass of birds and possibly other organisms.