Tag Archives: entanglement

Birds are quantum physicists!

A paper appeared last year in Current Biology describing the ability of birds to see magnetic fields. Many birds respond to changes in the earth’s magnetic field, and the theory is that they use this ability to navigate during migration. As I mentioned in my blog, scientists have been trying to figure out just how birds can accomplish this amazing feat. Several hypotheses involve the protein cryptochrome, a molecule that seems to be nearly one-of-a-kind as far as biological structures go. Now scientists have taken the awesome factor for this mechanism one step higher: a paper in PRL suggest that these birds may actually be using quantum entanglement in their navigational systems.

For those uninitiated into the world of really tiny physics, entanglement basically describes two electrons that are inextricably linked.

Going green… literally

While impressive, the last few decades of human achievement in photovoltaics pale in comparison to nature’s equivalent technology: photosynthesis. Just look at the numbers—every year photosynthesis produces about 3,000 exajoules (EJ) of chemical energy, or 7 x 1017 kilocalories, which equates to about half the total energy stored in the world’s petroleum reserves (and approximately the average daily caloric intake of eating champ Joey Chestnut). Compare this to the 0.1 EJ of electrical energy produced annually by man-made photovoltaics. Closing this gap is the key to a sustainable energy future, and unlike nature we don’t have the luxury of waiting billions of years to get there.