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Posted: Jan 29, 2015
Forward look report on quantum biology presented
(Nanowerk News) The scientific community represented by about forty researchers and officials from research funding organisations gathered in Brussels on 23 January 2015 to present the outcomes of the European Science Foundation's (ESF) Foresight Activity on Research in Quantum Biology (FarQBio). This exercise was initiated as a part of a larger initiative on quantum information (FARQUEST) and has resulted in a Forward Look report (A Foresight Activity on Research in Quantum Biology (FarQBio); pdf) that provides insights into the latest evidence of quantum phenomena in biological systems.
Quantum biology has developed over the past decade as a result of convergence between quantum physics and biology. This emerging field stems from the interrogation of the basic principles that govern interactions at the molecular scale in living organisms. New experimental techniques have provided evidence that phenomena such as photosynthesis, birds' orientation in the Earth's magnetic field, smell and possibly anaesthesia may be due to quantum effects. Quantum biology embodies not so much what research currently is, but what it could become.
The report focuses on future outlooks in what is a novel, highly cross-disciplinary field which brings together biologists, physicists, chemists, computer scientists, as well as researchers from other disciplines, but which intrinsically requires them to transcend their disciplinary boundaries. "We are currently witnessing the birth of a new way of doing science where transitional disciplines converge to find an explanation of phenomena observed in nature and to bring to life new devices and technologies, as has often been the case during the past decades for nano-and biotechnology" explains Professor Martin Plenio, Chair of the FarQBio Scientific Committee.
In order for this more integrated approach to science to succeed, quantum biology will require a paradigm shift in the way education, research and interactions between science and society are carried out and delivered. The report provides a set of measures and recommendations in these directions and is addressed to policy makers, research funders, programme managers and educators at the EU and national levels.