Physics Colloquium - Jeff Mechanick Lecture

Tue, Oct 16, 2018 4:00 pm - 5:00 pm
John S. Toll Physics Building, Room 1410


Vibrations, Quanta & Biology

Speaker: Martin Plenio, Ulm University
Conventional wisdom has it that the realisation of quantum technologies requires delicate control employing finest technology and a remarkable degree of isolation of the envisaged quantum device from its environment. Typically, this includes ultrahigh vacuum, ultralow temperatures, stable lasers, shielding against stray fields and so forth. In view of this, the warm, wet and noisy environment that characterises physiology does not seem to be the ideal environment in which to observe quantum dynamics and consider its impact on biological function. In this lecture, however, I would like to reason why I believe that this may not be such an adventurous notion after all. Moreover, I will argue that it is indeed the fruitful interplay between quantum dynamics and the unavoidable noise from the physiological environment that leads to optimal functionality in certain biologically relevant tasks. I will provide simplified theoretical examples and numerical analysis to bring out some basic ideas such as that of noise supported dynamics and present some supporting results from experiment.

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