Not long ago we reported on the fact that the magnetic compass in birds can work with quantum effects. However, this is not the only case where the biological systems are suspected of active use of quantum mechanics. Scientists at the Biomedical Research Center. Alexander Fleming (Greece) published in a web journal PLoS ONE article, which suggests that the ability to distinguish one from the other smells also based on quantum phenomena.
Discussion of quantum smelling began long ago. It is believed that the form is responsible for the odor molecules: roughly speaking, if the olfactory receptor molecule will drop the ball, we feel a smell than a molecule of a pyramid. But it so happens that a number of molecules of different shapes, smell the same (for example, many molecules that is composed of hydrogen and sulfur, equally stink like rotten eggs, despite the differences in the spatial structure). To explain such cases, scientists have come up with a quantum theory of olfaction.
In its simplest form, this theory suggests that the olfactory receptors feel vibrations of the chemical bonds between atoms, and such variations provoke tunnel effect in olfactory receptor molecule.
|Does our sense of smell on the quantum effects? (Photo KidStock.)|
The idea of the quantum of smell appeared around such amazing and wild, that it was immediately rushed to check. And it seems to be easy: to make the two molecules, which are identical in form, but with different quantum characteristics, for example, by deuteration when the molecule instead of the usual hydrogen introduced its heavier isotope deuterium. This experiment was carried out in 2004, and the results have been disappointing for the supporters of the quantum of smell, people do not feel the difference between a regular acetophenone and deuterated acetophenone.
But in 2011, new experiments have shown that Drosophila still able to distinguish the smell of light and heavy molecules, despite their similar shapes. When researchers tried again to check the result to the people, they waited for failure. However, with another molecule of all happened: instead of a small acetophenone experimenters have used a larger tsiklopentadekanon. Neither the researchers nor their test subjects did not know which is which molecule is generally different, and whether they are, but the difference between the standard and weighted to feel the substance found. So in a sense, the authors of the hypothesis of the quantum of smell returned to the lost ground.
It is not known, however, what the new results more: whether objective scientific reality, or burning desire of researchers to the hypothesis of the quantum of smell confirmed. Consider a new job the ultimate proof of existence we have with you "quantum noses" can not — even those who respect and interest relates to the hypothesis, say that it is a small step in the research, which will no doubt want to continue.
Prepared according to the Bi-bi-si.