For centuries in western science there was no place for eastern methodologies, as particle physics was the normal school of thought. This vantage point set modern practitioners on a dead end path only to rediscover what ancient masters once knew as common knowledge.
Now with modern western science, we are uncovering new breakthroughs that can only be explained as a new renaissance of growth due to the adjustment of these core principles that once set researchers back.
Quantum Physics And Biophysics
“Quantum mechanics is this great theory that explains the world in almost its entirety as far as we know,” Maurer said. “It explains how atoms hold together and what drives chemical reactions, which can explain biology and how cells work. In some sense, quantum mechanics is the most fundamental theory of the world we have now.”
Quantum mechanics also contains some of science’s most counterintuitive principles, like superposition and quantum tunneling. Over the years, engineers like Maurer have discovered ways to apply those principles to the development of industry-transforming technology.
Atomic clocks, which can accurately keep time within 100ms over 15 billion years, are considered an early form of quantum sensing. Since their creation, they have become the backbone of several sophisticated technologies, like GPS and modern satellite communication. In much the same way that atomic clocks transformed time measurement, engineers like Maurer hope to transform the measurement of many other phenomena.
A diamond in the rough
One application Maurer has pursued since his postdoctoral years is the study of temperature in cells. Quantum systems are extremely sensitive to temperature changes. Quantum computers, for example, need to be stored at near absolute zero to function, requiring refrigerators the size of a person. That sensitivity, a hindrance in quantum computing, can provide highly detailed information when applied to sensing.
Working from that understanding, Maurer has developed sensors that are small enough to be inserted into living biology. To do this, he uses lab-grown diamonds designed with a specific flaw in their center: what’s called a nitrogen-vacancy (NV) center. This flaw, because of its structure, has a quantum property called spin. Researchers can use electromagnetic radiation to change the spin inside of the diamond, like moving a compass needle with a magnet. Pairing that with other tools, researchers can sense various forces, such as magnetic and electrical fields, pressure, and temperature.
The advantage of Maurer’s approach is that he can “feed” one of these nanosensors to a living cell through a process called endocytosis. Once inside the cell, Maurer’s sensor can monitor temperature without disrupting the cell’s normal functions, warm parts, and measure the response.
Understanding temperature in cells is crucial because many chemical reactions are triggered by heat, and on occasion, those reactions can lead to undesirable results like denatured or misfolded proteins.
A leap for sensing
Currently, Maurer is working with David Pincus, assistant professor in the Department of Molecular Genetics and Cell Biology at the University of Chicago, as part of the National Science Foundation’s Quantum Leap Challenge Institute for Quantum Sensing for Biophysics and Bioengineering (QuBBE). Together, they’re investigating heat shock response, which is the body’s mechanism for sifting out misfolded proteins. Their research could potentially unlock new methods for addressing protein misfolding and lead to new tests or treatments for neurodegenerative disease. For Maurer, it’s the opportunity to apply his work in quantum engineering to an issue affecting many.
“Quantum sensors are particularly appealing because they allow us to probe molecular and biological processes that we wouldn’t be able to access with conventional technologies,” Maurer said. “By this, we can learn something about the inner workings of human health, and that’s something that our society can draw very direct benefit from quantum technology. It’s the ability to use this technology to do something meaningful.”Read More.
In addition to quantum detection technology in biophysics, quantum physics is being used to unlock more foundational information about biological reactions.
Quantum physics is now being applied to attempt to explain some of the activities in cells that can affect DNA.
Ultimately, there are several other areas of science in which quantum physics is being applied to advance our understanding. As we continue to apply these principles we must also apply holistic awareness concepts in order to elevate consciousness. Otherwise we may still encounter hinderances that may prevent us from reaching our desired growth.
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