A Nobel Prize winning biologist has ignited controversy after publishing details of an experiment in which a fragment of DNA appeared to 'teleport' or imprint itself between test tubes.
According to a team headed by Luc Montagnier, previously known for his work on HIV and AIDS, two test tubes, one of which contained a tiny piece of bacterial DNA, the other pure water, were surrounded by a weak electromagnetic field of 7Hz.
Eighteen hours later, after DNA amplification using a polymerase chain reaction, as if by magic the DNA was detectable in the test tube containing pure water.
Oddly, the original DNA sample had to be diluted many times over for the experiment to work, which might explain why the phenomenon has not been detected before, assuming that this is what has happened.
The phenomenon might be very loosely described as 'teleportation' except that the bases project or imprint themselves across space rather than simply moving from one place to another.
To be on the safe side, Montagnier then compared the results with controls in which the time limit was lowered, no electromagnetic field was present or was present but at lower frequencies, and in which both tubes contained pure water. On every one of these, he drew a blank.
The quantum effect - the imprinting of the DNA on the water - is not in itself the most contentious element of the experiment, so much as the relatively long timescales over which it appears to manifest itself. Quantum phenomena are assumed to show their faces in imperceptible fractions of a second and not seconds minutes and hours, and usually at very low temperatures approaching absolute zero.
Revealing a process through which biology might display the underlying 'quantumness' of nature at room temperature would be startling.
Montagnier's experiment will have to be repeated by others to have any hope of being taken seriously. So far, some scientists have been publically incredulous.
"It is hard to understand how the information can be stored within water over a timescale longer than picoseconds," said the Ruhr University in Bochum's Klaus Gerwert, quoted by New Scientist magazine, which broke the story (requires registration).
What does all of this mean? It could be that the propagation of life is able to make use of the quantum nature of reality to project itself in subtle ways, as has been hinted at in previous experiments. Alternatively, it could be that life itself is a complex projection of these quantum phenomena and utterly depends on them in ways not yet understood because they are incredibly hard to detect.
Speculatively, (and Montagnier doesn't directly suggest anything so unsubstantiated), it could also be the little-understood quantum properties of the water molecule and not just its more obvious chemical bonding properties that gives it such a central role in the bio-engineering of life-forms. Water might be a good medium in which DNA can copy itself using processes that hint at quantum entanglement and 'teleportation' (our term).
Montagnier's paper goes on to discuss the phenomenon he claims to have uncovered using 'quantum field theory' within the context of his personal interest, disease propagation.