The Quantum Mitochondrium / Article from The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Quantum World

last update: Sept. 14 '17


Quantum MidichlorianA lot more ‘quantum effects’ are taking place in
mitochondria than previously assumed.
One key driver for cell death is lifestyle-induced
inflammation which is known to alter mitochondrial function,
leading to accelerated aging.

Reducing inflammation might lead to a slowing of the aging rate.
The best way to achieve this is no doubt via EXERCISE,
and REDUCTION OF inflammation-inducing conditions,
such as OBESITY.

The majority of the brain's energy is supplied by mitochondria
and is consumed at the synapses.

Calculations suggest that the active brain can generate approximately 30 µmol ATP/g·min,
which is not too dissimilar to what a human leg muscle is generating during a marathon.

(The cell powerhouse of 'Midichlorians' is presumed to be the genetic ancestor of human Mitochondria.
It is therefore seen as an useful analogue for the purpose of this presentation.
Both Midichloria and Mitochondria are a symbiotic lifeform with identical processes and function).

The brain is not simply a computer system and as Roger Penrose has proposed,
it may utilize quantum principles to enable it to process information and generate awareness.

Quantum theories of the mind have led to a whole new field of science–‘quantum neurophysics’,
which mirrors the idea that life is anchored in the quantum world.

It is now becoming clear that bacteria can transfer electrons both between the same species and with other species in a form of symbiosis via ‘bacterial nanowires’.

In effect, these are biological conductors; they can transfer energy.
Significantly, this ‘conductance’ appears to have been solved in at least two ways by nature:
one is more similar to classical metallic conductance based on free electron theory,
whereas the other seems to depend on quantum effects–such as ‘tunnelling’.

It was Planck who realized that there was a minimal ‘quantum of action’,
in effect, there is a minimum change that can be measured in nature,
which became known as Planck's constant, or h, which equals 6.6×10-34 J/s.

The implications from this were profound,
not least of which were that any measurement of nature is based on quantum effects,
and that the size and shape of things is also determined by Planck's constant.

It means that there is always motion within matter; at the molecular level,
the shape of things is determined by an average and motion is therefore ‘fuzzy’,
and it is impossible to assign both momentum and position of a particle.

It also means that the so called ‘energy barriers’ normally encountered in most physical/biological/chemical system may not be barriers at all. This describes one of the most fascinating principles of the quantum world, ‘tunnelling’.

The phenomenon of ‘tunnelling’ explains how objects can permeate energy barriers without the necessary energy because they can exist as probability waves; the likelihood of this can be predicted by the Schrödinger equation.

This basically tells us that the ability to do this depends on their energy and mass,
and the width of the barrier. It is actually quite likely for very small particles like electrons and protons,

but extremely unlikely for large objects such as humans.
It seems likely that the brain is probably also using quantum effects at some level.

A quantum control system is suggested. (Hormesis).
It seems likely that quantum tunnelling and entanglement were essential for the beginnings of life,
especially in relation to photosynthesis, allowing a greater spectrum of photons to be gathered and more efficient transfer of electrons.

Indeed, many biomolecules may have been selected for their ‘quantum criticality’,
and thus behave somewhere between an insulator and a conductor, so also potentially acting as charge carriers.

Practical examples include quantum effects used in bird navigation,
an explanation of how photosynthesis works, and possibly, even the sense of smell.

The recent discovery that lysozyme appears to demonstrate a ‘Fröhlich condensate’,
when combined with concept that strong electro-magnetic fields generated by mitochondria could generate ‘water order’,
and thus protect against decoherence, is perhaps further evidence.

In fact, emerging mathematical models suggest that quantum coherence can be maintained for significant periods of time,
orders of magnitude longer in complex biological systems than in simple quantum systems at room temperature
–in effect the system can hover in the ‘Poised Realm’ between the pure quantum and incoherent classical worlds.

Thus, although computers may rely on quantum principles,
life has been using them since the beginning, and what we see today is the result of billions of years of natural selection.

So it appears that to fully understand biology,
we have to embrace the quantum world,
and this may begin to explain why life is generally so efficient.

(Basis of homeopathy)
Hormesis is a biological phenomenon whereby a beneficial effect (improved health, stress tolerance, growth or longevity) results from exposure to low doses of an agent that is otherwise toxic or lethal when given at higher doses.

An electron transport chain (ETC) is a series of complexes that transfer electrons from electron donors to electron acceptors via redox (both reduction and oxidation occurring simultaneously) reactions, and couples this electron transfer with the transfer of protons (H+ ions) across a membrane.

The close association between (reactive oxygen species) ROS generation and the electron transport chain (ETC), and the discovery of ‘mitochondrial oscillators’, which has enhanced the understanding of complex non-linear systems –is highly relevant.

Data suggest that mitochondria have evolved to generate energy at a ‘redox sweet spot’,
where without too much stress, they can maximize energy production with minimal ROS, but if the ETC becomes either too reduced or oxidized, ROS signalling occurs–the so called ‘Redox-Optimized ROS Balance’ (R-ORB) hypothesis; a key component of this is ANTIOXYDANT DEFENCE.

The combination of increased ROS and increased ADP/ATP is a powerful signal for mitochondrial biogenesis.
How mitochondria attain a reliable energy provision while keeping ROS within physiological limits compatible with signaling is a relevant question linked with the relationship between respiration and ROS.

The importance of this question cannot be overstated because of the central role that mitochondrial energetics/redox functions play in the pathogenesis of numerous human disorders.


ADP: Adenosine diphosphate is an important organic compound in metabolism and is essential to the flow of energy in living cells.

ETC: An electron transport chain is a series of complexes that transfer electrons from electron donors to electron acceptors via redox (both reduction and oxidation occurring simultaneously) reactions, and couples this electron transfer with the transfer of protons (H+ ions) across a membrane.

ROS: Reactive oxygen species are chemically reactive chemical species containing oxygen. Examples include peroxides, superoxide, hydroxyl radical, and singlet oxygen.


Image: the electron transport chain in a mitochondrium, Public Domain

The quantum mitochondrion and optimal health

Quantum magic inside the human body

The role of quantum effects in proton transfer reactions in enzymes: quantum tunneling in a noisy environment?

How mitochondria produce reactive oxygen species

Redox-Optimized ROS Balance and the relationship between mitochondrial respiration and ROS