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I've been looking with interest at a recent biology paper claiming that DNA molecules give off electromagnetic signals which can cause the same types of molecules to be reconstructed at a remote location. The Slashdot crowd seems to think the idea is pretty ridiculous, and I'm inclined to agree, but I still think it's worth digging into some of the physics they cite.

A large part of the theoretical argument in the paper relies on what they call coherence domains. As far as I can tell, they're talking about a relatively large region of liquid (in this case water) in which all the molecules are in resonance with an oscillating electromagnetic field which is confined by the boundary of the region itself. I don't think I really grok that description, and a Google search for further information turned up nothing relevant. I'd like to see some of the math that backs this up. So can anyone provide a more mathematical explanation of how these coherence domains are able to exist?

(I'm assuming the whole idea is not totally bogus :-P)

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you should consider putting a bounty on this question, I suppose. Even if the argumentation is absolutely nonsense, it would be nice to see here why. Greets –  Robert Filter Jan 24 '11 at 13:08
    
I don't know of the veracity of these particular claims, but I think it is worth examining to what extent the usual notions of molecular randomness are valid in the real world. When you blow smoke, for instance, you see wisps and filaments - coherent structures form before thermal agitation dissolves them. Now meteorologists are discovering atmospheric "rivers" - another example of long-range coherence in a fluid. It is absolutely worthwhile to explore if "coherence domains" can exist and their physical implications. Since that's how you framed the question +1 –  user346 Jan 25 '11 at 16:44
    
The problem with this question is that it's very hard to disprove something. A 'more mathematical explanation of how these coherence domains are able to exist' may be impossible, because these 'coherence domains' may not exist. In short: I suspect the whole idea is totally bogus, but I'm certainly not man enough to prove it. –  Andrew Mar 9 '11 at 3:58
    
@Andrew: I had a feeling that might be the case. The fact that nobody here seems to have any idea about the underlying science is, although not proof, at least noteworthy statistical evidence. –  David Z Mar 9 '11 at 4:31
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The paper is not worth reading, and it is a pity to waste people's time with it. –  Ron Maimon Aug 23 '11 at 15:52

4 Answers 4

To emit a radio wave of any sort which sticks out above ordinary thermal radiation, you need an energy source which is not thermal. Such an energy source is not available to DNA molecules in dilute solutions. If there is some cellular machinery which is responsible for emitting low frequency EM waves, it would require some energy source and would be sensitive to dilution. The idea that DNA emits radio is a perpetual motion machine of the second kind.

The electromagnetic signals are in my opinion amplified thermal noise, and the "signal" stands out because the water with the DNA in it that he uses is slightly warmer.

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Ron Maimon, In the paper itself they point out quite clearly and rigorously that the emission is due to resonance with the earths naturally oscillating magnetic field (at close to 7 Hz). When they enclose the DNA containing vial of water in a box that blocks magnetic fields, the phenomenon is not reproduced. Perhaps you missed that on your skim through it? –  user28530 Aug 21 '13 at 18:16
    
@Hector: When I read the paper, I don't remember any of this at all, I remember it pretty clearly as being completely different, it was talking about electromagnetic signals coming from an equilibrated RNA solution, and it was clearly bunk, as the signal was coming in with no source of energy. The old signal was clearly thermal noise, and this is what I said. This new paper is still probably bunk, the 7hz thing is at ridiculously low frequencies fora molecule, but it is not inconsistent with thermodynamics, just with reasonable response frequencies in molecular scale charge-systems. –  Ron Maimon Aug 21 '13 at 20:21

Well I cannot give the mathematics; however (and it is an "idea" assuming it is not ridiculous) I would like to point out that water is a polar molecule, and therefore has to give off (an incredibly small) magnetic field. If your cells could fluctuate the magnetic fields of all the water in that region, then they could give off a signal... However that's just a thought and, truth be told, probably not likely.

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good question tho –  luca590 May 25 '11 at 4:26

You could check the works of Emilio del Giudice, Giuliano Praparata et al. The second one in particular is been involved in the study of coherence effects in quantum field theory, in particular in quantum chromo dynamics and quantum electrodynamics. In this article

http://www.worldscientific.com/doi/abs/10.1142/S0217979295000744?prevSearch=preparata+del+giudice&searchHistoryKey=

they propose an explanation of the strange behaviour of water just based on such coherence effects. Maybe here you will find what you're searching for.

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Here is a link with all mathematical details:

http://www.mdpi.com/2073-4441/4/3/510

It is open access. Enjoy it...

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Answers that are only a link without any additional added or extracted material are not as useful as ones where you pull out, summarize, or highlight key sections that answer the question. –  tpg2114 Aug 28 '13 at 20:32

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