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PostQuantum Biology and Bird Migration (Tor Guimaraes, USA, 07/21/18 2:27 am)
In his comments on my recent WAIS post, our kind editor asked me to explain Quantum Biology, "in particular, bird (and butterfly) migration."
I would say Quantum Biology is an amazing trend, for it is incrementally providing conclusive evidence for explaining more completely what has been baffling biologists in specific areas. It is also heartening to see hard-nosed scientists who thought they knew their areas of expertise changing their minds when facing the new scientific evidence. No "fake news" here, only verifiable evidence.
The world must give credit to the relatively unknown John Bell, who initiated a series of experiments regarding the "spooky" behavior (Einstein's words) of subatomic particles.
As new experiments produce evidence regarding specific research questions, Quantum Biology grows in stature and in its implications to both philosophy and biology. Unfortunately for JE, I am not aware of any experiment results from Quantum Theory applied to butterfly migration. But several other areas, including bird migration, have been tested with Quantum Theory and the results are conclusive.
The European robin has been the species chosen to test the effect of Quantum phenomena in robin migration. Scientists have long proposed that birds must be using the Earth's magnetic field for navigation. Because some subatomic particles (photons, electrons) can be in more than one place at a time and can be entangled (one tells the other what to do), the robin can use the exceedingly weak Earth magnetic field to navigate in long-distance migration.
In short, photons striking the robin's eyes start chemical reactions and produce a pair of entangled electrons which can assume one of two states (i.e. Red/Red or Red/Green). The tiny variations in the Earth's magnetic field can change the state of the electrons. For example, at the Equator the entangled electrons show Red/Red and at the Poles they show Red/Green. This guides the bird in migration.
As one of the articles below states: "The Earth's magnetic field would alter the spin orientation of the electrons [Red or Green], and thus alter the chemical properties of the molecules. It is suggested that this could leave varying concentrations of chemicals throughout the bird's eye, and that this could constitute a picture of the Earth's magnetic field. Cryptochrome, in the presence of blue light, is the most likely candidate for a chemical that could be influenced by this process."
JE comments: I'll repeat myself from last time: deep, deep stuff. We may forever have to shelve the notion of "bird brain" and its supposed deficiencies.
Tor, you're also a student of business practice: what is the commercial potential of these discoveries?
What is the Commercial Potential of Quantum Biology?
(Tor Guimaraes, USA
07/23/18 3:56 AM)
John E responded to my post on Quantum Biology with a question: "Tor, you're also a student of business practice: what is the commercial potential of these discoveries?"
I can only make some superficial observations.
I have no doubt that some entrepreneurs smarter than me are already thinking about how to make money from the new scientific knowledge. Also, governments of major countries are increasingly interested in the national security implications of Quantum technologies. There are presently research efforts to develop a Quantum computer which would expand computing power beyond what is imagined today (which is already awesome). As I discussed in a WAIS post several weeks ago, the security implications if sub-atomic particles entanglement can be harnessed for communication would be devastating to whomever does not have the technology.
Historically, after new scientific knowledge became available, in most cases major governments and/or major corporations got in the dance first, developing/using new technologies. Then, smaller-fry entrepreneurs join the party. However, the Quantum knowledge/technologies still developing seems to be another forthcoming major result from the founding fathers (Bohr, Heisenberg, Schrödinger, Bell, etc.), who put up with a lot of rejection but finally delivered the goods big time (all laser technologies, all electronic technologies, and now Quantum biology).
God only knows what we will be able to do when scientists finally integrate Einstein and Company's General Theory of Relativity with Quantum Theory, which so far has never been wrong explaining real-world phenomena. Now, that is what I call a marvelous religion.
JE comments: I'm not much of a science-fiction guy, but Quantum Biology sounds like the gateway to teleportation. All you must do is "entangle" the same particles at a distance, and voilà! E-mail yourself.
The airlines will fight this.
Inspired by Tor's original post, Enrique Torner (next) comments on bird migration.
- Falcons of the Mayo Clinic (Enrique Torner, USA 07/23/18 4:14 AM)
Tor Guimaraes's post of July 21st reminded me of a fun and unique close-up encounter my family and I had with peregrine falcons on June 4, 2015.
On that day (and I know the exact day because, upon Googling, I found a video recording of the event with the date on it!), we were at Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota, because of a medical appointment. My two daughters and I were walking around Mayo building in the morning, when we saw a sign advertising a public presentation of the banding of some chick peregrine falcons that have a nest on the roof of the building. My now 11 year-old daughter, who has loved animals ever since I remember (my wife and I have always had a toy poodle ever since we got married) and seems to know all kinds of facts about animals--especially about elephants and peregrine falcons--was absolutely ecstatic about the unique opportunity to see peregrine falcons up close, so you can just imagine her insistence about attending the event.
So, of course I couldn't refuse my then 7-year old sweet daughter not to attend this major event! We were at Mayo's main lecture hall way before the presentation started. Right outside the entrance, trying to lure people into attending the event, there was an adult peregrine falcon seated on a perch that had been placed on a table! Several people were watching it as close as a few inches, some even petted it with the assistance of the falconer. My 7-year old had to pet it too, of course, and she absolutely loved that. I wish I could show you a picture, but I can't find it now. However, here is a link to the event on YouTube:
This event was possible because, since 1987, falcons have been migrating to Mayo Clinic to nest on top of some of their buildings, and, back then, Mayo Clinic started a peregrine falcon program in conjunction with the Midwest Peregrine Society. Mayo installed a camera right on the spot where the falcons had been nesting years ago, and they have been offering a live stream video of the nest for quite a few years. So every time the falcons had baby chicks, they picked them and placed a band on them. With these bands, they have been able to identify them over the years, and, with help from our wonderful tracking technology, know exactly where they are at all times.
The "couple" they have been following in the last few years is composed of a male falcon named Orton "after the town where the rose granite used in the building was quarried" and a female falcon named Hattie in honor of the wife of Dr. William J. Mayo, one of the founders of the clinic. Mayo has been following them carefully since 2014, and have a website where anybody interested can go to in order to watch the family members while they are in their nest. In the link I offer next, you can watch interesting and fun videos and texts related to these falcons. Caveat: if you really, really care about birds, I have to warn you that there is a sad piece of news that might make you cry, or at least weigh heavy upon your heart. Here it is:
Last, but not least, regarding the eternal childhood (and adult, for some) question of how on earth (pun intended) birds know how to navigate their way north and south that my friend Tor brought up, I found a website that explains it, reducing their methods to 5: magnetic sensing (yes, Tor, you seem to be right on track!), geographic mapping, celestial navigation (they know their stars better than me, for sure!), wind patterns, and learned routes. The article in this website is dated 2014, so it's quite recent. Read on:
Mayo Clinic can document, with verifiable, scientific proofs, that, at least peregrine falcons, can travel every year from down south of the US to the very top of Mayo Clinic in Rochester, MN. An adult male falcon named Triumph was in San Antonio, Texas, last winter, and has come back to downtown Minneapolis to nest with Genie. They have been nesting at the top of 33 South Sixth Street Tower (formerly International Multifoods Tower) in Minneapolis. Their story is on the second link I provided right on this post.
I will end this post by telling you (in case you don't know) that peregrine falcons are the fastest birds (and animals) in the planet, able to dive-fly at over 200 miles per hour to catch a poor innocent goose that was happily swimming in the lake in front of our former house in Lakeville, MN! I say this as an example: it really didn't happen. However, we indeed had geese, ducks, blue herons, turtles, beavers, and other wild animals in and around "our" lake. And we also had a peregrine falcon land on our bird fountain once: I took a close-up picture of it, but, of course, it's too old to be on my computer photo album, which only goes as far as 2015. Too bad! Then, one evening, we heard a big "thumpy" noise coming from our living-room, but, when we walked to it, we couldn't see anything. The following morning, while I was walking on our backyard, by the lake, I found out what had hit our living-room window: a wild turkey! There it was: a dead wild turkey, lying on the ground, right under main living-room window. Upon further inspection, I noticed the big, dirty spot it had imprinted on our window. The poor turkey was fooled by our special, UVA and UVB rays protective window film that, when it's sunny, from the outside, looks like a mirror, so the poor turkey thought it was flying towards the lake when it hit the window at fast speed and dropped dead in our backyard.
Well, I will offer you one final link to make Tor happy. This site is about the European robin's navigational skills, and the latest scientific discovery by Henrik Mouritsen and his colleagues at the University of Oldenburg in Germany. They make a case for robins using magnetic fields to orient themselves. Here it is:
What would my elementary and high school science teachers say if they read this post? "No, it's not possible! No way Enrique could have written this!" Well, you never know what a day will bring!
Henrik Mouritsen and his colleagues at the University of Oldenburg in Germany have now made a compelling argument for the eyes.
Read more at: https://phys.org/news/2009-11-birds-earth-magnetic-field.html#jCp
JE comments: Not ones to nest at any old hospital, the Mayo falcons picked the Gold Standard of care! Thank you, Enrique, for showing us how much we can learn from the birds. (And yes, what sad news for Orton and Hattie.)
It may be time to revive our stalled initiative of 2015: WAIS P-Mail. Do falcons eat pigeons?
- Falcons of the Mayo Clinic (Enrique Torner, USA 07/23/18 4:14 AM)