Intelligent Design

Quantum effects confirmed for photosynthesis

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Quantum phenomena in biology are receiving the attention of more and more researchers, with photosynthesis being the process getting the most attention. Back in 2007, it was apparent that quantum effects were effective for “explaining the extreme efficiency of photosynthesis”. Then, in 2010, the photosynthetic apparatus of cryptophyte algae was the focus of research, because its pigments are farther apart than was expected for efficient functioning. In a News & Views article in Nature, van Grondelle & Novoderezhkin discussed evidence suggesting that a process known as quantum coherence is part of the explanation. They added: “This is the first time that this phenomenon has been observed in photosynthetic proteins at room temperature, rather than at much lower temperatures, bolstering the idea that quantum coherence influences light harvesting in vivo.” The most recent study has provided a theoretical argument that quantum effects must be present and that classical physics does not provide an explanation. It is claimed to be “the first unambiguous theoretical evidence of quantum effects in photosynthesis”.
What is emerging are processes and structures that carry the hallmarks of design, with complex specified information at every level of analysis. We are at the beginning of a journey into quantum effects in biology. It is the design paradigm that is best equipped to guide our thoughts and keep us on the right path.
For more, go here.

11 Replies to “Quantum effects confirmed for photosynthesis

  1. 1

    David, given as you are quoting a post you write yourself you should take care with the [snip] and put breaks in else a quick read would think you are citing the Nature article !

    Anyway that aside you’re talking ID woo that is not supported by the article.

    As per section 1.2 (see figure 1.2) and 1.3 of David Oakley Hall; K. K. Rao; Institute of Biology (1999). Photosynthesis. Cambridge University Press. ISBN 978-0-521-64497-6 the efficiency of plants is poor.

    Sure it’s ok for the plants but as a “design paradigm” for solar panels then that is not a given.

  2. 2
    Axel says:

    QM makes materialists extremely uncomfortable with good reason, doesn’t it?

    The truth of the matter is evidently that it makes Christian fundamentalists’ beliefs seem quite mainstream and classical – leaving aside the matter that there are a number of issues that Young Earthers indicate which are inimical to the prevailing Old Earth scenario, anyway. It seems to me that God is on the side of the evolutionists in this one: making monkeys of them – as if they needed help. I don’t feel the need to believe the earth was created in six days, and I sure don’t feel the need to disbelieve it.

    Remember the concession of the atheist scientist that bornagain77 quoted, to the effect that QM indicates that the universe could be a tiny fraction of a nanosecond old? In the light of that, not to mention QM’s iron-clad credentials as the ultimate, unimprovable and uniquely successful, physical paradigm at the micro level, and its positive epiphany that matter proceeds from mind, the fact that the materialists can get in a state about YECs’ convictions, specifically about the age of the earth, reflects a transparently wilful nescience, and a shameless disrespect for adamantine facts.

    The universe is all magic, isn’t it? And rather than miracles being a ‘suspension of the laws of nature’, they are, simply, non-standard expressions of them.

  3. 3
    bornagain77 says:

    Lincoln Phipps you quote a 1999 article claiming that,,,

    ‘the efficiency of plants is poor’ Photosynthesis. Cambridge,,,

    In order to keep from making this mistake again, you may want to update your notes Mr. Phipps:,,,

    Unlocking nature’s quantum engineering for efficient solar energy – January 7, 2013
    Excerpt: Certain biological systems living in low light environments have unique protein structures for photosynthesis that use quantum dynamics to convert 100% of absorbed light into electrical charge,,,
    “Some of the key issues in current solar cell technologies appear to have been elegantly and rigorously solved by the molecular architecture of these PPCs – namely the rapid, lossless transfer of excitons to reaction centres.”,,,
    These biological systems can direct a quantum process, in this case energy transport, in astoundingly subtle and controlled ways – showing remarkable resistance to the aggressive, random background noise of biology and extreme environments. “This new understanding of how to maintain coherence in excitons, and even regenerate it through molecular vibrations, provides a fascinating glimpse into the intricate design solutions – seemingly including quantum engineering – ,,, and which could provide the inspiration for new types of room temperature quantum devices.”

    What’s quantum physics got to do with biology? – June 2012
    Excerpt: bacteria can capture 95% of the light that hits them and turn it into useful energy. Solar panels also convert light from the Sun into energy—but they aren’t nearly as good at it. The very best solar panels ever tested in a lab (i.e., not the ones actually available for sale and installation on your house) were able to convert about 34% of the light that hit them into electricity.,, Why can’t we use the Sun’s energy as effectively as bacteria can? The secret may be that the bacteria are using quantum physics to transmit energy.

    Scientists unlock some key secrets of photosynthesis – July 2, 2012
    Excerpt: “The photosynthetic system of plants is nature’s most elaborate nanoscale biological machine,” said Lakshmi. “It converts light energy at unrivaled efficiency of more than 95 percent compared to 10 to 15 percent in the current man-made solar technologies.,, “Photosystem II is the engine of life,” Lakshmi said. “It performs one of the most energetically demanding reactions known to mankind, splitting water, with remarkable ease and efficiency.”,,, “Water is a very stable molecule and it takes four photons of light to split water,” she said. “This is a challenge for chemists and physicists around the world (to imitate) as the four-photon reaction has very stringent requirements.”

    Moreover, the ATP synthase machine at the heart of photosynthesis is also found to be 100% efficient:

    Your Motor/Generators Are 100% Efficient – October 2011
    Excerpt: ATP synthase astounds again. The molecular machine that generates almost all the ATP (molecular “energy pellets”) for all life was examined by Japanese scientists for its thermodynamic efficiency. By applying and measuring load on the top part that synthesizes ATP, they were able to determine that one cannot do better at getting work out of a motor,,, The article was edited by noted Harvard expert on the bacterial flagellum, Howard Berg.

    Thermodynamic efficiency and mechanochemical coupling of F1-ATPase – 2011
    Excerpt:F1-ATPase is a nanosized biological energy transducer working as part of FoF1-ATP synthase. Its rotary machinery transduces energy between chemical free energy and mechanical work and plays a central role in the cellular energy transduction by synthesizing most ATP in virtually all organisms.,,
    Our results suggested a 100% free-energy transduction efficiency and a tight mechanochemical coupling of F1-ATPase.

    See also:
    Davies et al., “Macromolecular organization of ATP synthase and complex I in whole mitochondria,” Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences
    Tamás Beke-Somfai, Per Lincoln, and Bengt Nordén, “Double-lock ratchet mechanism revealing the role of [alpha]SER-344 in F0F1 ATP synthase,” Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences

  4. 4
    bornagain77 says:

    Moreover, Darwinists have no clue whatsoever as to how photosynthesis may have evolved just one time, much less how it could have ‘spontaneously’ evolved over and over,,,

    The Elaborate Nanoscale Machine Called Photosynthesis: No Vestige of a Beginning – Cornelius Hunter – July 2012
    Excerpt: “The ability to do photosynthesis is widely distributed throughout the bacterial domain in six different phyla, with no apparent pattern of evolution. Photosynthetic phyla include the cyanobacteria, proteobacteria (purple bacteria), green sulfur bacteria (GSB), firmicutes (heliobacteria), filamentous anoxygenic phototrophs (FAPs, also often called the green nonsulfur bacteria), and acidobacteria (Raymond, 2008).”

    “Despite its complexity, C4 photosynthesis is one of the best examples of ‘convergent evolution’, having evolved more than 50 times in at least 18 plant families (Sage 2004; Conway Morris 2006).”

    As to the inherent complexity involved in photosynthesis, the problem of ‘irreducible complexity’ is stated here:

    Evolutionary biology: Out of thin air John F. Allen & William Martin:
    The measure of the problem is here: “Oxygenetic photosynthesis involves about 100 proteins that are highly ordered within the photosynthetic membranes of the cell.”

    And the complexity is further elaborated here

    The 10 Step Glycolysis Pathway In ATP Production: An Overview – video

    At the 6:00 minute mark of the following video, Chris Ashcraft, PhD – molecular biology, gives us an overview of the Citric Acid Cycle, which is, after the 10 step Glycolysis Pathway, also involved in ATP production:

    Evolution vs ATP Synthase – Molecular Machine – video

    Glycolysis and the Citric Acid Cycle: The Control of Proteins and Pathways – Cornelius Hunter – July 2011

    etc.. etc.. etc..

  5. 5
    bornagain77 says:

    Mr. Phipps as to your almost reflexive response to utter the words ‘Quantum Woo’ anytime anyone points the fact out to you that quantum phenomena contradicts your materialistic philosophy, I put together a rather lengthy response in the hope of educating you on exactly why it (i.e. Quantum Woo) severely contradicts your base ‘bottom up’ materialistic philosophy,,,

    And why it (i.e. Quantum Woo) overwhelmingly supports a ‘top down’ theistic structure for reality.

  6. 6
    Peter says:


    You’re very knowledgeable, and a prolific writer, would you like to write science articles for my news website? The writing style would be different, but the aim of the website is to reach the broader public (evangelize the truth). The website is young. I have a couple of reporters. It is not secular, but open to religious beliefs. The website is I could very much use your help.


  7. 7
    bornagain77 says:

    Peter, I don’t know how much help I could be for you but I guess I could try to help out a bit. Maybe give it a few tries here and there if I come across something fascinating to write about and see where it goes from there. ,,, Is that the right link? If so your domain name seems to be up for sale???

    As well, although I’m sure you are not associated with him, when I saw your domain name I immediately thought of a rather pathological, obscure, blogger that UD had a run in with in the past. A blogger who used the handle ‘thewholetruth’. A person who seemed to be delighted in making veiled threats, obscene comments, doctored photographs, and such as that against the posters and bloggers of UD.

  8. 8
    bornagain77 says:

    OT: Kirsten Powers’ Reluctant Journey from Atheism to Christian – 2013
    Excerpt: Then something very unusual happened to Powers on a trip to Taiwan in 2006.
    “I woke up in what felt like a strange cross between a dream and reality. Jesus came to me and said, ‘Here I am.’,,,
    Powers doesn’t recall what Kathy Keller taught on that day, but when she left the Bible study she knew everything had changed. “I’ll never forget standing outside that apartment on the Upper East Side and saying to myself, ‘It’s true. It’s completely true.’ The world looked entirely different, like a veil had been lifted off it. I had not an iota of doubt. I was filled with indescribable joy.”,,,
    “Everywhere I turned, there He was. Slowly there was less fear and more joy.

  9. 9
    Peter says:


    Thank you very much for your positive response. That’s great. I can’t believe I mis=wrote my own webpage – how embarrassing. It is My email address is I look forward to hearing from you.

    On the contrary, I am sure anything you write will be rock solid about science. The style will be a bit different. News articles usually don’t use academic footnotes. But we could do that if we want to.

    Please send me an email so we can discuss it further.


  10. 10
    bornagain77 says:

    Peter I dropped you a e-mail, let me know if it did not get to you.

  11. 11
    David Tyler says:

    Thanks to bornagain77 for feedback on the efficiency of photosynthesis.

    Lincoln Phipps @ 1: “a quick read would think you are citing the Nature article !”
    When I cite the authors, I use quotation marks.

    “the efficiency of plants is poor”
    There are various measures of efficiency. Conversion of light energy to chemical energy is not poor. The vast expenditure on research to find a biomimetic mechanism based on photosynthesis suggests that it will have a major impact if successful. The problem is that photosynthesis is extraordinarily complicated and it has defied all attempts to date to achieve something workable. Yet we are surrounded by billions of light-capturing organisms that do it every day.

    A recent report on this work you would do well to note is:
    “Quantized vibrations are essential to photosynthesis, say physicists”
    Jon Cartwright | Jan 22, 2014

    “Physicists in the UK claim to have shown unambiguously that the high efficiency of photosynthesis is driven at least partly by a purely quantum-mechanical phenomenon. Their work could lead to discoveries of other quantum processes in biology, or help in the development of new and better technologies for harvesting solar energy. [snip]”

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