From the November 3, 2009 issue of Scientific American
Wouldn’t it be nice to be an electron? Then you, too, could take advantage of the marvels of quantum mechanics, such as being in two places at once—very handy for juggling the competing demands of modern life. Alas, physicists have long spoiled the fantasy by saying that quantum mechanics applies only to microscopic things.
Yet that is a myth. In the modern view that has gained traction in the past decade, you don’t see quantum effects in everyday life not because you are big, per se, but because those effects are camouflaged by their own sheer complexity. They are there if you know how to look, and physicists have been realizing that they show up in the macroscopic world more than they thought. “The standard arguments may be too pessimistic as to the survival of quantum effects,” says Nobel laureate physicist Anthony Leggett of the University of Illinois.
This work suggests that, contrary to conventional wisdom, entanglement can persist in large, warm systems—including living organisms. “This opens the door to the possibility that entanglement could play a role in, or be a resource for, biological systems,” says Mohan Sarovar of the University of California, Berkeley, who recently found that entanglement may aid photosynthesis [see “Chlorophyll Power,” by Michael Moyer; Scientific American, September 2009].
I predict, based on this trend, that eventually a mainstream neuroscience group will seriously test whether the brains, and then the minds, of identical twins or emotionally bonded couples, are entangled. And they'll find there is such evidence. And then they'll be hailed for discovering telepathy, for the first time. Or, even better (as my colleague Damien Broderick suggests) they'll be hailed for discovering a completely unexpected phenomenon.