Origins of Life and Evolution of Biospheres

, Volume 41, Issue 1, pp 35–50

Speculation on Quantum Mechanics and the Operation of Life Giving Catalysts



The origin of life necessitated the formation of catalytic functionalities in order to realize a number of those capable of supporting reactions that led to the proliferation of biologically accessible molecules and the formation of a proto-metabolic network. Here, the discussion of the significance of quantum behavior on biological systems is extended from recent hypotheses exploring brain function and DNA mutation to include origins of life considerations in light of the concept of quantum decoherence and the transition from the quantum to the classical. Current understandings of quantum systems indicate that in the context of catalysis, substrate-catalyst interaction may be considered as a quantum measurement problem. Exploration of catalytic functionality necessary for life’s emergence may have been accommodated by quantum searches within metal sulfide compartments, where catalyst and substrate wave function interaction may allow for quantum based searches of catalytic phase space. Considering the degree of entanglement experienced by catalytic and non catalytic outcomes of superimposed states, quantum contributions are postulated to have played an important role in the operation of efficient catalysts that would provide for the kinetic basis for the emergence of life.


Origins of life Hydrothermal vents Quantum decoherence Pre-biotic chemistry Metal sulfide catalysis 

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.NASA NAI Astrobiology Biogeocatalysis Research CenterMontana State UniversityBozemanUSA
  2. 2.Department of Chemistry and BiochemistryMontana State UniversityBozemanUSA
  3. 3.Department of PhilosophyUniversity of WashingtonSeattleUSA

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