, Volume 22, Issue 3, pp 227-255

A quantum-theoretic approach to genetic problems

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A quantum-theoretic picture of the transfer of genetic information is described. The advantage of such an approach is that a number of genetic effects appear to be explicable on the basis of general microphysical laws, independent of any specific model (such as DNA-protein coding) for the transmission of genetic information. It is assumed that the genetic information is carried by a family of numerical observables belonging to a specific microphysical system; it is shown that a single observable is theoretically sufficient to carry this information. The various types of structure that this observable can possess are then described in detail, and the possible genetic effects which can airse from each such structure are discussed. For example, it is shown how the assumption that the genetic observable possesses degenerate eigenvalues may lead to a theory of allelism. To keep the treatment self-contained, the basic quantum-theoretical principles to be used are discussed in some detail. Finally, the relation of the present approach to current biochemical ideas and to earlier quantum-theoretic treatments of genetic systems is discussed.