Collective Behaviours

What is a swarm?

When we think of a swarm, we usually think of swarms of insects, but the term swarm can be applied to different species (e.g herds, flocks, schools, societies (e.g I Couzin. ), and even different scales (e.g gluons, quarks, electrons, particles, cells, organisms, stars, etc).

These ideas are already being explored by a number of scientists, particularly in the field of artificial intelligence where swarm behaviours are used to explore collective behaviour/self organisation.

There are swarming behaviour and growth at various scales, including at cellular level. In their natural environments, cells often undertake complex collective behaviors in response to environmental and population cues. Thus, understanding how cells behave in the wild requires characterizing not only the behavior of isolated cells but also how environmental signals combine with cell-to-cell communication (such as quorum sensing and autocrine signaling to give rise to observed behaviors at the population level). Doing so requires us to examine how the cooperative behaviors of cell colonies differ from those of isolated cells and conversely, how the properties of single cells generate and explain the observed communal behavior. P Mehta 2010.

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Draft: The Emergent Universe

An Emergent Universe

New states can arise from far from equilibrium, possessing an extraordinary degree of order, whereby trillions of molecules coordinate their actions in space and time.  Prigogine coined the term “dissipative structures” to describe them, since they result from the exchange of matter and energy between system and environment, together with the production of entropy (dissipation) by the system.  

The complex and mutually dependent processes leading to the formation of structures, collectively called “self organisation”…in such a universe, irreversible non-equilibrium thermodynamics allows for the possibility of self organisation leading to structures ranging from planets and galaxies to cells and organisations.  R Highfield and P Coveney 2015.

According to Masser (2006), it would be appropriate to represent the Big Bang not as a single event, but as an on-going process of gradual formation out of chaos.  In other words the evolution of the universe is a continuous self-organisation process that has led to its currently observed structure with a host of galaxies, galaxy clusters and planetary systems.

In this article it is suggested that such self-organising patterns arising from superconductivity are responsible for this structure. Read More…

Draft 2: Quantum Coherence and Neurology

Quantum Coherence in Biology.

There is direct evidence for the presence of quantum coherence over appreciable length scales and timescales in the FMO pigment protein complex of the green sulphur bacteria.

It has also been theorised that magnetoreception (triggered by cryptocrhome or magnetite) is utilising quantum mechanical effects.   N Lambert – ‎2012.

The question has remained, how are such quantum effects generated?

One possibility is that the solid state photo-CIDNP effect, singlet and triplet states, ultra-fast electron transfer, and quantum coherence found in photosynthesis (and theorised in magnetorception) is due to the functioning of biological semiconductors within natural environments.

Certain organic semiconductors (OLEDs) exhibit magnetoelectroluminescence or magnetoconductance, the mechanism of which shares essentially identical physics with radical pairs in biology – specifically singlet and triplet states generated during magnetoreception. PJ Hore (2016).

During charge separation in biology, triplet states can react with molecular oxygen generating destructive singlet oxygen. The triplet product yield in bacteria and plants is observed to be reduced by weak magnetic fields.  It has been suggested that this effect is due to ‘solid-state photochemically induced dynamic nuclear polarization (photo-CIDNP), which is an efficient method of creating non-equilibrium polarization of nuclear spins by using chemical reactions, which have radical pairs as intermediates. A Marais – ‎2016

Biological materials implicated in quantum biology are similar in structure to organic semiconductors.

Organic molecules that serve as chromophores (of which flavins such as cryptochrome, are examples) consist of extended conjugated π-systems (the same structure as organic semiconductors) – which allow electronic excitation by sunlight and provide photochemical reactivity. …Ultrafast electron transfer mechanisms from an aromatic moiety to a photoexcited flavin are not only observed for riboflavin-binding proteins but for other flavoproteins, like for BLUF (blue light sensing using FAD) domains, cryptochromes, and DNA photolyases. H Staudt 2011. 

And in biology, evidence has been found that the existence of central aromatic acids can serve as stepping stones to support an electron hopping mechanism W Sun 2016.   J R Winkler 2015

These ideas are further explored in another posting – click here to find out more.

Is there evidence of similar effects in human beings?

J Kirschvink (Caltech) claims to have found evidence of magnetoreception in human beings (June 2016). A V Chervakov 2015 has recently explored possible mechanisms underlying the therapeutic effects of transcranial magnetic stimulation, and suggested magnetoreception may be implicated.

Evidence of reduced triplet product yield in brain tissue following exposure to magnetic fields would be required to demonstrate that the solid state photo CIDNP state effect was present in the brain.

A number of papers have proposed that oxidative stress could be caused by electro-magnetic fields e.g ELF-EMFs exposure (50 Hz, 0.1–1.0 mT) was shown to significantly affect antioxidant enzymatic capacity in both young and aged rat brains (S Falcone 2008).  However other studies suggest that magnetic fields could decrease oxidative stress and damage in rats and gerbils.  H Kabuto et al 2001 ,S R Balind 2014, I Tunez 2006, I Tasset 2010, 2013. Such studies show that the level and timing of exposure are critical factors impacting outcome measures. M Reale 2014.  

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