Quantum theories have been applied to every discipline of the physical sciences because they take into consideration one very important aspect of a system, and that is group cooperation. This is especially important to biology because cells and molecules are not isolated from one another in the body. They act and react together in a way that supports the entire system.
A radical example of group cooperation can be found in what’s known as a Bose-Einstein condensate, or BEC. At extremely cold temperatures, gases and liquids act as a unified whole and change properties to become superconductors, meaning that they no longer offer any resistance to the flow of electricity, or superfluids where they loose all viscosity. The BEC is recognized as an ultimate state of coherence. In a series of papers from 1960-1980, physicist Herbert Frohlich proposed that cell membranes act similar to a BEC under certain conditions. He suggested that biological systems are far from equilibrium, meaning that they are in an active state and not balanced and inert. With the vast amounts of energy they have available, biological systems can exhibit non-linear behavior. With enough energy and focus, the entire system can jump to a state of coherence which then itself becomes a self-organized, ordered structure. Frohlich models used special molecules in the cell walls of living tissue called dipoles. He constantly supplied them with metabolic energy causing them to vibrate and found that these electric vibrations (from the dipoles) would couple to the acoustic vibrations that were inherent in the structure (sounds in the body like heartbeat and breath). The resulting entrainment process could be studied by using the mathematics of non-linear dynamics.
This discovery could have only been conceived during the age of computers. Without them, the equations of non-linear dynamics were mostly unsolvable due to their extreme complexity. A sheet blowing in the wind is an example of a simple non-linear dynamic system. Its motion is varied, but it does have a finite range. Writing a mathematical equation that accurately demonstrates this motion is a formidable task. So ungainly are these equations that only in rare cases can they be solved for real numeric values. For this reason, most physicists, including early quantum physicists, chose to document their research in linear equations simply because they could be solved. With the advent of powerful computers, non-linear dynamics equations could finally be tackled. This development opened an entirely new window through which physicists could view the motion and workings of whole systems and what they saw stunned them. Instead of quantitative solutions, scientist now had qualitative solutions that more accurately described the system. They found a way to describe the erratic behavior that a system sometimes exhibits and defined it as “deterministic chaos.” This gave them tremendous insight into the workings of a living entity, which is an example of an infinitely complex non-linear dynamic system.
It’s interesting to note that the ability to solve non-linear dynamic equations greatly benefited three-dimensional computer modeling systems. This is one of the reasons that animation graphics look so wonderfully rich and realistic now.