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May 28th, 2009
Quantum entanglement in photosynthesis?
Nanotechnology is, ultimately, a mechanization of the molecular processes of life. One of the most important of those processes is photosynthesis. If we really understood photosynthesis as deeply as we do, say, gear trains, and had the machinery to build whatever molecular machines we designed, we could build trees that produced gasoline from sunlight and the CO2 in the air.
(just for fun: a gasoline tree with an effective area of 100 m2 would produce about 3 gallons per hour of direct sunlight.)
Quantum entanglement is primarily a laboratory curiosity at the macroscopic scale (at the atomic scale nothing works without quantum mechanics, of course). The major uses that anyone is working on are quantum computing and cryptography. It's generally thought that quantum effects vanish in systems as large and warm as living cells.
Now a paper from a group at Berkeley claims that quantum entanglement seems to be occurring in photosynthesis.
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