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Ionic Conductance

Harry Erwin herwin at science.gmu.edu
Sun Nov 13 14:47:30 EST 1994


John Anderson in Anderson Lab (anderson at CSHL.ORG) wrote:
: >   Has anyone looked to see if microtubules supported ionic conductance?
: >   That would also start to provide some insight into their role in the
: >   protistan neuroskeleton. Based on structure, they might even function as
: >   some sort of coaxial cable.
: >
: >   --
: >   Harry Erwin
: >   Internet: herwin at gmu.edu 

: Microtubules play an important role in Roger Penrose's new book
: SHADOWS OF THE MIND (which I've not read), as a possible substrate for
: "quantum consciousness", I think.  I believe the original idea came
: from Stuart Hameroff.  The property of microtubules that these guys
: like is that the tubulin monomers can have one of two conformations,
: determined by the position of an particular electron.  I wonder if
: this electron, or a surrogate, could be transferred along the length
: of the microtubule as part of a wave of conformational change, thus
: effectively producing a current?

I'm acquainted with Stuart's work. Until recently, I've taken it with a
couple of grains of salt, since the microtubules are also used
structurally and dynamically in the cell. Exposure to Morowitz has been
changing my mind about the role of conformational change; hence the
posting--although I'm still very dubious about quantum mechanics as part
of the game. Penrose spoke at Radford in September, and I think he's
chasing a hare. What he wants to do is make the microtubules into an
isolated system that can do quantum computation. I'm also aware of
Fr\"ohlich oscillations, but I suspect another (or may be the same)
hare is involved. 
--
Harry Erwin
Internet: herwin at gmu.edu 



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