Quantum States in Templated Biological Processes


  Robert Englman  
Ariel Universty

Living matter is characterized by its variegated potential energy landscape possessing a proneness to continually absorb externally supplied energy. This enables it to ascend from its momentary energy minimum state to one of its myriad barriers only to subsequently descend to a new minimum with a potentiality to perform new functions or processes, in the while exuding energy (mainly in the form of heat). The process is described by its initial and final quantum states, as in molecular intersystem crossing.

I have obtained the low energy quantum states for those three templated self-assembling processes, self-replication, metabolism and self-repair that are commonly regarded as distinguishing animate from inanimate substance. The outcome of each process is a long-living, stable molecular aggregate characterized by its specific conformation. Quantum mechanically this constitutes a mixed state, whose micro-states arise from sub-conformations in the potential energy landscape. The provenance of these states is obtained here by a unified formalism for all three processes, based on a Hamiltonian, constructed in an abstract Hilbert-space framework, whose essences are bilinear coupling terms in the Hamiltonian between the template and the bath, as well as between the reactants and the bath. Treating these terms by second order perturbation, one finds in low lying quantum states an alignment between the template and the product, somewhat analogous to the Kramers-Anderson superexchange mechanism, with the bath replacing the bridging anion and by exploitation of the decohering due to the randomness of the bath. The idea underlying this work, recurrent in the biological literature and here expressed in a Physics, Hamiltonian framework, is the correlative unity of the whole biological system comprising multiple organs.