9 Replies to “European robin uses quantum mechanics to find its way to Spain

  1. 1
    fryether says:

    Quantum mechanics in birds. Quantum mechanics in plants. Wow just wow. What is an evolutionary biologists explanation for how such complex math found its way into nature via an unguided process?

  2. 2
    Axel says:

    Argh. Quantum mechanics is just woo-woo. Unicorns and stuff…

  3. 3
    bornagain77 says:

    In the video, Quantum Physicist Jim Al-Khalili states that finding the phenomenon Quantum Entanglement in European Robins is

    “nothing short of miraculous.”


    Quantum compass for birds – January 2011
    Excerpt: In the new research, physicists at the University of Oxford and the National University of Singapore calculated that quantum entanglement in a bird’s eye could last more than 100 microseconds — longer than the 80 microseconds achieved in physicists’ experiments at temperatures just above absolute zero,,, The new prediction interprets data from earlier experiments that hinted at a quantum basis for magnetic navigation in migrating birds. In 2006, researchers in Frankfurt, Germany, netted 12 European robins migrating from Scandinavia. Researchers locked the robins in a wooden room and applied small magnetic fields tuned to a frequency that would disturb entangled electrons, if the birds indeed relied on entanglement to navigate.
    The magnetic field, at 150 nanoTesla, was about 300 times weaker than Earth’s magnetic field, so it wouldn’t be expected to confuse the birds in the absence of an entanglement-based navigation system. But with the magnetic field on, the birds flew randomly instead of all flying in the same direction.

    And I hold that Jim Al-Khalili is not overstating the case in the least in saying that finding quantum entanglement in Robins is “nothing short of miraculous.”

    First off, researchers thought that it would be impossible for ‘non-trivial’ quantum entanglement to occur in the ‘warm and wet’ environment of biological systems because of the amount of ‘noise’.

    Quantum entanglement in hot systems – 2011
    Excerpt: The authors remark that this reverses the previous orthodoxy, which held that quantum effects could not exist in biological systems because of the amount of noise in these systems.,,, Environmental noise here drives a persistent and cyclic generation of new entanglement.,,, In summary, the authors say that they have demonstrated that entanglement can recur even in a hot noisy environment. In biological systems this can be related to changes in the conformation of macromolecules.

    Life Uses Quantum Mechanics – September 25, 2012
    Excerpt: it looks as if nature has worked out how to preserve (quantum) entanglement at body temperature over time scales that physicists can only dream about.

    Coherent Intrachain energy migration at room temperature – Elisabetta Collini and Gregory Scholes – University of Toronto – Science, 323, (2009), pp. 369-73
    Excerpt: The authors conducted an experiment to observe quantum coherence dynamics in relation to energy transfer. The experiment, conducted at room temperature, examined chain conformations, such as those found in the proteins of living cells. Neighbouring molecules along the backbone of a protein chain were seen to have coherent energy transfer. Where this happens quantum decoherence (the underlying tendency to loss of coherence due to interaction with the environment) is able to be resisted, and the evolution of the system remains entangled as a single quantum state.

    It is also very interesting to point out that scientists have an extremely difficult time maintaining quantum entanglement in a ‘sterile and quiet’ laboratory setting;

    Physicists Entangle 8 Photons in ‘Spooky’ Experiment – February 2012
    Excerpt: Entanglement is a fragile state, and entangling photons with any efficiency is a major challenge; physicists generally produce a huge number of photons for every pair of successfully entangled particles. The difficulty of creating multiple pairs of entangled photons grows exponentially as more are added.

    And yet, despite the extreme difficulty that researchers have in generating quantum entanglement, it is found that quantum entanglement is in molecular biology on a massive scale:

    Quantum Information/Entanglement In DNA – Elisabeth Rieper – short video

    Quantum Entanglement Holds DNA Together, Say Physicists – June 28, 2010

    Another reason why this is “nothing short of miraculous” is that quantum entanglement requires a ‘non-local’, beyond space and time, cause in order to explain its effect:

    Looking beyond space and time to cope with quantum theory – 29 October 2012
    Excerpt: “Our result gives weight to the idea that quantum correlations somehow arise from outside spacetime, in the sense that no story in space and time can describe them,”

  4. 4
    bornagain77 says:

    Also of note, quantum entanglement is a ‘physical resource’:

    Quantum Entanglement and Information
    Quantum entanglement is a physical resource, like energy, associated with the peculiar nonclassical correlations that are possible between separated quantum systems. Entanglement can be measured, transformed, and purified. A pair of quantum systems in an entangled state can be used as a quantum information channel to perform computational and cryptographic tasks that are impossible for classical systems. The general study of the information-processing capabilities of quantum systems is the subject of quantum information theory.

    And this physical resource is ‘conserved’

    Quantum no-hiding theorem experimentally confirmed for first time
    Excerpt: In the classical world, information can be copied and deleted at will. In the quantum world, however, the conservation of quantum information means that information cannot be created nor destroyed. This concept stems from two fundamental theorems of quantum mechanics: the no-cloning theorem and the no-deleting theorem. A third and related theorem, called the no-hiding theorem, addresses information loss in the quantum world. According to the no-hiding theorem, if information is missing from one system (which may happen when the system interacts with the environment), then the information is simply residing somewhere else in the Universe; in other words, the missing information cannot be hidden in the correlations between a system and its environment.

    Needless to say, the implications of finding ‘non-local’, beyond space and time, quantum information in molecular biology on a massive scale, indeed finding quantum entanglement to be ‘holding life together’, and also finding it to be ‘conserved, (cannot be created or destroyed)’, are fairly obvious:

    Does Quantum Biology Support A Quantum Soul? – Stuart Hameroff – video (notes in description)

    Verse and Music:

    Mark 8:37
    For what can a man give in return for his soul?

    Lucie Silvas – Nothing Else Matters

  5. 5
    Axel says:

    What did I tell you? Woo-woo ‘n’ stuff!

  6. 6
    ppolish says:

    The air speed velocity of an unladen robin can still be calculated using classical physics and modeled using NeoDarwin principles.

    But the complicated stuff takes QM & ID.

  7. 7
    nightlight says:

    Every atom in my little toe uses quantum mechanics as I type this. And quantum chromodynamics, too. The real discovery would have been if it didn’t use QM but somehow worked outside of natural laws.

  8. 8
    Robert Byers says:

    I doubt it.
    this guy did a good series on electricity but a bad one trying to give his Muslim identity credit for science progress in the old days. another ethnic not content to be the people he lives among and got everything from. Sad old britain these days.

    All creatures see , as I see it, by reading their memories of what their eyes see.
    I question they use anything other then memory of what they look at or once did.
    Prove it dude.
    birds are bird brains. not the only ones.

  9. 9
    Eric Anderson says:


    Never mind the airspeed velocity of an unladen robin. What we want to know is the airspeed velocity of an unladen swallow. 🙂

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