Archive for February 18th, 2009

Do We?

At Backreaction, Bee asks, “Do we need Science Journalists?”

I don’t think science blogs are ready to replace science journalism, or even if that will ever come to pass. This harkens back to the argument of what is the purpose of blogs; if the niche that a blog fills isn’t competing with traditional science journalism, then that blog isn’t likely to present much competition. And if a blogger doesn’t present their work in a way that’s an alternative to journalism, then so be it — I don’t think I’m going to run anyone out of business, and if I find something interesting, I’m an asset, because I’ll link to it. To the extent that science blogs do compete with science journalism, I think that good blogging will force science journalism to get better, because good blogs will be read at the expense of poor journalism, and bloggers tend to not be shy about pointing out crap. And that’s a Good Thing™ because we can always do with better material all around. There will always be a place for good science journalism; the question will be on the size of the niche.

Quantum Biology

The Quantum Dimension Of Photosynthesis

In the initial steps of photosynthesis, the energy from a solar photon is transferred through the protein by sequentially exciting electrons in the organic molecules and is eventually delivered where it’s needed. Biologists have long thought that the energy moved like a hot potato: an excited electron in one molecule passes its energy to an electron in another, nearby molecule, and so on.

However, laser-based experiments have suggested other possibilities. In 2007 a team hitting a photosynthetic protein with laser pulses and measuring the time variation in the output light found strong evidence that some of the electrons were coherently coupled. The quantum wave nature of the electrons seemed to be connecting some of the chlorophyll-like molecules and helping energy flow through the protein like a wave on a string.

From the Seven Ate Nine Files

Letter Monsters. A Flickr set