Deepak Chopra and Joseph Selbie discuss Joseph’s book The Physics of God on The Chopra Well.
Quantum Coherence and the Hidden Secret Behind Our Bodies
By Joseph Selbie
In an adult human body, there are fifty-quadrillion coordinated biochemical events taking place each and every second. Every second, each of our fifty trillion cells generates fifty thousand biochemical events in a near-perfectly coordinated dance of atoms and molecules that make possible everything from voluntary movement to the continuous complex processes of circulation, digestion, assimilation, elimination, respiration, growth, and healing.
If you aren’t staggered by this you should read that paragraph again—fifty-quadrillion coordinated biochemical events take place in your body each and every second.
How does our body know what to do?
The DNA Model
The conventional biochemical model considers the body to be an amazing self-organizing and self-sustaining biochemical machine. This model maintains that our bodily processes are influenced by the brain to some extent through the agency of electrochemical signals running through our nervous system and by biochemical messengers, such as neuropeptides, flowing through our circulatory system, but that the fundamental self-organizing life-processes, the heavy lifting, so to speak, is achieved by preprogrammed instructions coded into our DNA. In the conventional model, the DNA in the nucleus of the cell is that cell’s brain, and collectively, the brains of fifty trillion cells work together astonishingly seamlessly to keep us alive and healthy.
Fine as far as it goes. But how does our DNA do this?
Most microbiologists and geneticists still hold the belief that not only are all the blueprints for all the proteins the body needs contained in our DNA, but that all the information our body needs to grow and maintain itself (i.e., all the information that determines when and in what combinations to build specific proteins) is also contained in our DNA. According to this belief, the DNA in every cell is hard coded like a computer to regulate what and when proteins are needed within the cell and in response to outside instructions: From the beginning of life in the womb to the passing from life in death, every infinitesimally small biochemical interaction is preset by and preprogrammed in our DNA.
Unfortunately for the conventional DNA model this preset programming has yet to be found.
You can imagine that geneticists who held this belief eagerly looked forward to the revelations surely to come from the Human Genome Project. Once the entire human genome was sequenced in 2003, geneticists thought they would be able to understand all the unexplained mysteries of how the encoded information in our DNA coordinates and controls the life of every cell and thus the life of every organism.
Alas for the geneticists, the Human Genome Project did not solve the last mysteries. In fact, those mysteries were compounded:
“When the human genome was sequenced, some scientists were saying, “That’s the end. We’re going to understand every disease. We’re going to understand every behavior.” And it turns out, we didn’t, because the sequence of the DNA isn’t enough to explain behavior. It isn’t enough to explain diseases.”—Denise Chow, LiveScience: Why Your DNA May Not Be Your Destiny
In a commentary on the surprising results of the Human Genome Project, David Baltimore, one of the world’s preeminent geneticists and a Nobel Prize winner, addressed the issue of human complexity: “But unless the human genome contains a lot of genes that are opaque to our computers, it is clear that we do not gain our undoubted complexity over worms and plants by using more genes.”
Not finding the preprogramming for all of life encoded in our genes has forced geneticists into a fundamental reassessment of how our genes function. This reassessment has been strongly influenced by relatively recent discoveries that have led to the establishment of a new discipline in genetics known as epigenetics—literally, “above the gene.” These discoveries indicate that our genes are not fixed—that what were previously considered permanently dormant genes can become active and active genes can become deactivated.
Twins who begin their lives with identical portions of their DNA activated can end their lives with very different portions of their DNA activated. There is no inevitable, preprogrammed, hard-coded destiny in our genes; outside influences, such as diet and exercise, and even our thoughts and feelings, can substantially alter gene activation and gene expression.
It is impossible to reconcile the new evidence of such flexible gene expression with the idea that DNA is the preprogrammed brain of the cell. Our DNA turning on and turning off genes by itself would be rather like Escher’s hand drawing the hand drawing the hand or a computer that can independently decide what programs to run.
These discoveries cast significant doubt on the long-held belief that DNA is the brain of the cell. It looks more and more likely that our DNA is a collection of protein blueprints and that the controlling information that decides which protein is created when comes from outside the cell—in fact from outside the physical world.
How, then, can such controlling information that comes from outside the cell turn genes on and off or alter the gene expression of the same gene—something that according to the conventional model is impossible? The key is found in the emerging field of quantum biology.
Quantum biology, as the name implies, is the study of quantum effects, specifically nonlocal quantum effects, in living systems. Until recently, nonlocal quantum effects were believed to be impossible in the warm, moist environment of living systems. However, fascinating new discoveries have shown that belief was mistaken.
The first and most well-established discovery of quantum biology is its explanation for the amazing efficiency of photosynthesis. Scientists have long known that photosynthesis in plants is far more efficient at capturing the energy of the sun than any nonliving chemical processes can duplicate. It turns out that the cause of photosynthesis’s amazing efficiency is quantum coherence.
The chlorophyll molecule’s job is to transfer the sun’s energy to a photoreaction center where the sun’s electromagnetic energy is converted to chemical energy. Quantum biologists discovered that hundreds, even thousands, of chlorophyll molecules, when transferring the sun’s energy, vibrate in perfect synchronization with one another. They do so by forming a liquid crystal—i.e. they align in exactly the same way, in exactly the same phase (like rowers stroking in perfect rhythm), and in exactly the same frequency. This perfectly coordinated and sustained liquid crystal structure turns all the chlorophyll molecules into a kind of biological superconductor, thereby enabling the super-efficient transfer of sunlight quanta from one chlorophyll molecule to the next. The phenomenon is called resonant energy transfer and can only happen when all those molecules are in a state of quantum coherence.
This may sound like just another wonder of science, but such coordinated molecular coherence does not occur naturally in nonliving systems. In fact, according to conventional thinking in quantum mechanics, every chlorophyll molecule should be dancing to its own tune—out of alignment, out of frequency, and out of phase with all the other chlorophyll molecules. In the language of quantum physics, every chlorophyll molecule should behave decoherently.
Nonlocality and the Holographic Principle
Weirdness Alert: You are about to learn more about one of the cast members, nonlocality, that has a starring role in the long running play called Quantum Weirdness.
If thousands of chlorophyll molecules are being held in a coherent state, then the coordinating information that maintains the coherent state must originate nonlocally. Nonlocal is an awkward term physicists use to describe a realm in which distance does not exist. An object or an event is considered to be local if it is subject to the effects of distance. On the other hand, and counterintuitively, objects or events in a nonlocal realm are unaffected by distance—because in that nonlocal realm there is no time, space, or matter.
If you can’t get your head around this you are not alone: Even physicists who accept the inescapable need for nonlocality in the workings of quantum physics have a hard time with it:
“Despite the unrivalled empirical success of quantum theory, the very suggestion that it may be literally true as a description of nature is still greeted with cynicism, incomprehension, and even anger.”— Dr. David Deutsch, Oxford University
Quantum weirdness is compounded when the concept of nonlocality is combined with M-theory (the most accepted branch of string theory). One of the weird results of this combination is the holographic principle. The holographic principle states that the information that determines the behavior of the entire three-dimensional volume of space we call the universe is “pasted on” the “boundary” between our three-dimensional universe and a two-dimensional, nonlocal, pure energy realm. Put another way, the way the universe works—from the Big Bang to the present—is the result of information existing outside the universe itself. Put yet another way, light energy, interacting with holographic information in a nonlocal two-dimensional realm, results in the continuous holographic projection of the colossal three-dimensional world that we call the universe.
There is another logical leap that can be taken from M-theory’s holographic principle that few physicists make: our physical bodies are also continuously created holographic projections and the information that controls our projection exists nonlocally outside the physical universe.
“We must liberate man from the cosmos created by the genius of physicists and astronomers, that cosmos in which, since the renaissance, he has been imprisoned. We now know that we . . . extend outside the physical continuum. . . . In time, as well as in space, the individual stretches out beyond the frontiers of his body. . . . He also belongs to another world.”—Dr. Alexis Carrel, Nobel Prize winner
According to M-theory, the information that coordinates the continuous manifestation of our physical body cannot reside in our DNA or any other physical form, but must reside in a nonlocal two-dimensional pure energy realm from which the physical body is projected.
The saints and sages, masters and mystics, have been telling us essentially this for millennia: we have a subtle energy body, or astral body, or spirit body, or any of many other names given to it, and it is a luminous, Intelligently coordinated, perfect template for our physical body. According to the esoteric spiritual teachings of many traditions, without our astral body, the physical body would simply disappear.
“A subtle spiritual mechanism is hidden just behind the bodily structure.”—Sri Yukteswar
M-theory’s holographic principle and quantum physics’ nonlocality lends support to this millennial spiritual belief that our physical body is controlled by information that originates outside the body itself—our subtle energy body. Quantum biology identifies the mechanism, the bridge that enables information to go from nonlocal to local: quantum coherence.
Quantum Coherence and Liquid Crystal Behavior
Chlorophyll’s magic dance in a liquid crystal state isn’t the only evidence that quantum coherence occurs in living systems. Experiments suggest that the tissues of all living organisms are frequently found in coherent states—possibly even most of the time. In a 1998 study, geneticist and quantum biologist Mae-Wan Ho and her team were amazed to find liquid crystalline domains virtually everywhere in living tissues.
Another confirmation of sustained states of quantum coherence in the physical body is based on the 1920s discovery that our bodies emit very weak photons, called biophotons. In the 1970s, Fritz-Albert Popp extensively measured biophoton emission from human bodies. Popp’s team expected to find, based on the conventional biochemical model, that every biophoton emission would be emitted at random times and at random frequencies. Instead, they found that almost all biophoton emissions were emitted in phase—same timing, same frequency. Their findings suggest that, just as chlorophyll molecules are aligned and synchronized during photosynthesis, most tissues in the human body exist indefinitely in quantum coherent states.
Significantly, it has also been discovered that DNA, too, behaves as a liquid crystal.
Putting It All Together
From these and other discoveries, we see that a new quantum biological model is emerging. While well-known conventional biochemical processes are unquestionably taking place continuously in living organisms, there is another, subtler process taking place as well: the liquid crystal structures within our tissues, including DNA, phase in and out of quantum coherence—thus allowing the information from our subtle energy body to Intelligently coordinate the life processes taking place in our physical body.
“It is the failure to transcend the [biochemical] mechanistic framework that makes people persist in enquiring which parts [of the body] are in control, or issuing instructions or information. These questions are meaningless when one understands what it is to be a [quantumly] coherent, organic whole. An organic whole is an entangled whole, where part and whole, global and local are so thoroughly implicated as to be indistinguishable, and where each part is as much in control as it is sensitive and responsive. The challenge for us all is to rethink information processing in the context of the [quantumly] coherent organic whole.”—Mae-Wan Ho, geneticist and quantum biologist
Quantum biology strongly suggests that life did not arise from the atoms in a cosmic accident. Instead, it appears that physical life was created by the intelligent coordination of physical matter at the direction of Intelligent information originating beyond our physical realm. Quantum coherence is the hidden bridge by which that Intelligence coordinated the trillions of atoms necessary for even the veriest beginning of life—that elusive magic moment when life was born and which has and will continue to elude biologists as long as they remain convinced life arose from inert matter. Quantum coherence is also the bridge by which our Intelligently coordinated subtle energy body coordinates the fifty-quadrillion biochemical events taking place in our bodies every second. The emerging evidence of quantum coherence in living systems has given us a glimpse of the lawful mechanism, the hidden secret, by which Intelligence creates, evolves, and sustains biological life.
Originally published on Science and Non-duality (SAND)