The quantum mechanics of fantasy-sci-fi

I’ve written before on this blog about how cool it is when real-world science intersects with the sci-fi fantasy that I write. Now here’s an example that really warms the cockles of my brain:

“Over the past few years, the European robin, and its quantum “sixth sense”, has emerged as the pin-up for a new field of research, one that brings together the wonderfully complex and messy living world and the counterintuitive, ethereal but strangely orderly world of atoms and elementary particles in a collision of disciplines that is as astonishing and unexpected as it is exciting. Welcome to the new science of quantum biology.”

I’d never heard of quantum biology when I wrote the following line in my soon-to-be-published YA novel Starley’s Rust: “…the mental gateway between you and the Embodied works through quantum fluctuations in your brain.”


A quantumly quute robin.

I certainly didn’t want to make my beings telepathic in the traditional paranormal sense, because the trilogy has a true sci-fi base, so I needed an explanation for how they could “get inside” a human’s mind. But it turns out that were the Embodied to exist (and who’s to say that they don’t!?), they could actually communicate with humans using a quantum mechanism like the one that robins use to navigate:

“Studies of the European robin suggest that it has an internal chemical compass that utilises an astonishing quantum concept called entanglement, which Einstein dismissed as “spooky action at a distance”. This phenomenon describes how two separated particles can remain instantaneously connected via a weird quantum link. The current best guess is that this takes place inside a protein in the bird’s eye, where quantum entanglement makes a pair of electrons highly sensitive to the angle of orientation of the Earth’s magnetic field, allowing the bird to “see” which way it needs to fly.”

The Embodied trilogy’s genre is either urban fantasy or soft sci-fi, but when I read an article like this I wonder whether it might even be regular sci-fi. Or even plain old sci.


Photo credit: <a href=””>freebird4</a&gt; / <a href=””>Foter</a&gt; / <a href=””>CC BY-NC</a>

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