Plants literally "eat" light; the miracle is the process called photosynthesis, and we know it from junior high school biology (well, at least, we used to know it from junior high biology back in the days that America had a relatively mediocre education system, compared to the galloping globaloney it has become). The process has remained a mystery, but thanks to quantum mechanics, scientists are closer to unraveling its secrets:
I hope that grabs you like it grabbed me, for the implications, if humans could learn to replicate the process in solar energy panels via integration with biology, would be obvious, and enormous: with 95% energy conversion of sunlight in plants, compared to our best efforts thus far at 20%, even an increase of two times, much less the nearly five times implied in plants, would turn our sun into a source of clean energy. And with all those plans to genetically engineer glow-in-the-dark plants for household lighting... well, you get the picture. And if we can think of it here, then rest assured, the combinatorial-technocrats at DARPA, i.e., technocrats who specialize in dreaming up creative combinations of disparate technologies, probably already have.
But there's something else in this article that intrigued me, and I hope you noticed it:
n order to observe quantum effects in photosynthesis, the research group led by Niek van Hulst developed a pioneering experimental technique. Energy transport during photosynthesis is extremely fast and takes place at a molecular scale. To observe these processes they pushed the ultrafast spectroscopy techniques to the single-molecule limit. This involves sending ultrafast femtosecond light flashes to capture a high-speed series of 'pictures' of the states of individual antenna proteins after light absorption (during one femtosecond light travels only one hundredth of the diameter of a human hair, while in one second it travels from earth to moon). With these "snapshots" the researchers are able to understand how solar energy is transported through single proteins. "We have been able to observe how energy flows through sunlight absorbing photosynthetic systems with unprecedented spatial and temporal resolution. This allowed us to observe the fundamental role of quantum effects in photosynthesis at ambient conditions" explains Richard Hildner, first author of the publication.
Shades of Royal Raymond Rife!
This is a kind of "quantum optics" - to coin a term - that if the technology is adapted and expanded, could yield breathtaking insights(pardon the pun) into the behavior of other materials at a very small level of space and time, and its possibilities in the development and elaboration of nanotechnology and genetic engineering - more "combinations of technology" - that must surely fuel the futurist imaginations of the most hopeful transhumanist or DARPA- combinatiorial technocrat (we'll call them DARPAcrats). Imagine being able to observe the minutest reactions of materials under various circumstances, then engineer materials, including DNA, to amplify, or damp, certain ambient effects.
See you on the flip side.