It has been a repeated wonder in the last 20 or 30 years to discover that life can persist in the most inhospitable places on earth. Microbial communities have now been found up the highest mountains and in the deepest seas, near hot vents that would kill normal surface life forms and in ice cold regions with absolutely no sunlight. The very latest discoveries have been made in crustal rock beneath the sea bottom in mid Atlantic.
But there is even more wonder about life. Some biologists are now realising that some of the most crucial chemical reactions that occur — photosynthesis for example — could not take place under the normally conceived operation of physical and chemical laws.
More exactly, the reactions are conceivable but could only be expected to take place once in a while of thousands or even millions of years, not with the immediacy that actually happens when a photon from the sun hits the chlorophyl molecule in a green leaf. Quite a number of biologists, including Johnjoe McFadden, Professor of Molecular Genetics at the University of Surrey, think that a ‘deeper’ layer of quantum physics is involved.
Further, biologists are beginning to think that quantum effects, not normally required in everyday events, are necessary in life, even in the origination of the first life form. And not only that, but are even involved in some crucial decision events in the brain. The role of mysterious quantum events in life is now becoming an increasing area of scientific interest.
It is beginning to look as though life is not just the product of some molecules randomly meeting other ones and accidentally producing another which then happens to be self-replicating. Quantum events — that no-one yet understands — seem to be threading their way throughout the universe in such a way that, whenever there’s the remotest chemical or physical chance, life forms are created.