Event by Novo Nordisk Foundation Science Cluster

    Lecture: Quantum Biology

    The Copenhagen Bioscience Lectures are a series of open lectures for all researchers and other interested in and around the Copenhagen area. Every 4 weeks, on a Thursday evening, you are invited for lectures on themes with a general interest for the Novo Nordisk Foundation Research Centers and bioscience researchers in general. Often there will be a cross-disciplinary focus. The theme for the lecture on the 7th of November will be "Quantum biology" with speakers Heiner Linke and Ilia Solov’yov. We hope to see you there!

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    07 November 2019


    Heiner Linke Professor and Director of NanoLund, Lund University, Sweden
    Ilia Solov’yov Professor, Department of Physics, Universität Oldenburg, Germany


    Engineering with molecular motors, Heiner Linke

    Protein-based molecular motors are ubiquitous in biology where they play central roles in essentially all cellular processes. In this colloquium, I will present two major projects concerning the engineering of, and with, protein based molecular motors.

    First, I will report the status of an international effort to create an artificial, protein-based motor. Using the same material system (proteins) as biology is a high-risk, high gain effort. On the one hand, due to its complexity, it is still very difficult to design a protein with specific functions from the bottom up. On the other hand, the exquisite variety and performance (e.g. an almost ideal energy efficiency) of biological motors shows that a high degree of engineering excellence can be achieved in principle. I will report on the design and construction of “Tumbleweed”, a protein assembly designed to move along a DNA track, powered by externally controlled changes in ligand concentrations that control binding and unbinding between Tumbleweed and track.

    Second, I will describe a major EU project, Bio4Comp, to use biological molecular motors to build a highly energy efficient, parallel computer. Electronic computers are extremely powerful at performing a high number of operations at very high speeds, sequentially. However, they struggle with combinatorial tasks that can be solved faster if many operations are performed in parallel. We have presented proof-of-concept of a molecular-motor based parallel computer by solving the specific instance of a classical nondeterministic-polynomial-time complete (“NP-complete”) problem, the subset sum problem. The computer consists of a specifically designed, nanostructured network explored by a large number of molecular-motor-driven, protein filaments. This system is highly energy efficient, thus avoiding the heating issues limiting electronic computers. I will discuss which other problems we can solve, the technical advances necessary to solve larger combinatorial problems than existing computation devices, as well as the  relation to quantum computation.

    Nicolau, D. V et al. (2016). Parallel computation with molecular-motor-propelled agents in nanofabricated networks. PNAS1132591–2596 (2016).



    From birds to molecules and beyond: the dawn of quantum biology, Ilia A. Solov’yov

    Clearly, the laws of physics hold and are exploited in living organisms. Speaking as a physicist, most biological characteristics stem from the laws of classical physics that students learn in their first year. However, crucial characteristics in organisms are governed by quantum physics. The latter characteristics are those in which biological processes involve the jumps of electrons from one state to another: electrons are exemplary quantum particles. The quantum behavior of electrons cover all chemical transformations, for example in case of formation or breaking of chemical bonds, but it arises also in optical transitions induced through light absorption by biomolecules.

    In this talk I will discuss a fascinating example of quantum behavior in biology as it comes about in animal navigation. In the case of animal navigation, quantum effects apparently bring about a magnetic compass that can sense the geomagnetic field through its interactions of biomolecules despite the fact the interaction energy amounts to only a tiny fraction of thermal energy present at body temperature. Magnetoreception case study will then be used to define the emerging interdisciplinary field of quantum biology.


    3:45 pm Welcome and registration (coffee/tea, water available)
    4:00 pm Start of the lecture
    5:30 pm Networking with a drink and a snack
    6:30 pm Thank you for a splendid end of day!
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    I would like to know about upcoming Copenhagen Bioscience Lectures – where can I find information?

    You are very welcome to join the ‘Novo Nordisk Foundation Research Centers’ Linkedin group. There you will find information about upcoming lectures, and much more. Also, you may want to sign up for the weekly announcement with events and deadlines, sent out by the group manager.

    What are my transport/parking options getting to the event?

    The organiser offers to pay for a taxi on the following conditions: it has to be transport from either Panum/Mærsk Tower or DTU building 220, if you are at least 3 people in a taxi. This is how it works: you arrange yourself for a taxi from Blegdamsvej or from Kemitorvet, find at least 2 other people to take the taxi with, and at arrival at Tuborg Havnevej 19 you ask Sophie to come and pay for the taxi (they’ll check departure address and number of persons in the taxi), as well as to order your taxi back.

    If you are by car, you can park for free in front or at the side of Tuborg Havnevej 19. If that is full, there is 3 hours free parking in the parking to the Waterfront shopping mall at the end of the road.

    Public transport by train to Hellerup station, and/or bus (1A, 21, 166), nearest by bus stop is Tuborg Boulevard.

    Where can I contact the organizer with any questions?

    Contact Sophie Labrosse at sfeb@novo.dk

    How do I cancel my participation?

    Please help us respecting our speakers, as well as keeping track of the numbers and optimize lecture and catering to the audience by cancelling as soon as you know that you exceptionally will not be able to make it. You can either cancel through Eventbrite or send an email to Sophie Labrosse (sfeb@novo.dk).

    Can I update my registration information?

    Yes, just log in to Eventbrite. Please use this option also in the unlikely event that you need to cancel your registration.

    Do I have to bring my printed ticket to the event?

    No, you do not have to bring your ticket, but registration is mandatory for participation.