Quantum entanglement holds together life’s blueprint

Entanglement is a quantum property where two or more objects are linked and in “superposition” – existing in many possible states at once. When this happens, it is impossible to describe the state of each object individually – the entangled objects must be considered as a whole.

When the researchers analysed the DNA without its helical structure, they found that the electron clouds were not entangled. But when they incorporated DNA’s helical structure into the model, they saw that the electron clouds of each base pair became entangled with those of its neighbours (arxiv.org/abs/1006.4053v1). “If you didn’t have entanglement, then DNA would have a simple flat structure, and you would never get the twist that seems to be important to the functioning of DNA,” says team member Vlatko Vedral of the University of Oxford.

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One response to “Quantum entanglement holds together life’s blueprint

  1. Hi, Sarah. That’s a great science link and a very interesting paper.

    The most fundamental thing to know about DNA is that the base pairs GC and AT use hydrogen bonds rather than a molecular bonds. There are nice drawings on http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Base_pair .

    Since DNA only uses hydrogen bonds, far less energy is required to unzip the chain. There’s far less likelihood that the DNA will get “cooked” in the process of unzipping or re-zipping DNA. Since these operations are done thousands of times a day, it’s very important that they work reliably with minimal chance of damaging the molecule.

    Hydrogen bonding happens in molecules that are dipoles: one end of the molecule has a positive charge and the other end has a negative charge. Water is one of the simplest molecules that works this way. Hydrogen bonding impacts all sorts of things from the phase of water (molecules this light are usually a gas at earth temperatures) to water’s surface tension to how ice forms on lakes. All of the behaviors are critical to life.

    UK writer John Gribbin wrote a wonderful book on the topic “In Search of the Double Helix.” Highly recommended. It’s a good foundation for papers like the brand-new one that Sarah found above.

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