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Seeing single photons: more research to come?

The question of whether large-scale quantum effects could be in operation in the brain is quite controversial (see for example this argument that decoherence in the brain is ultra fast and this recent question about slower decoherence). Yet it's clear that quantum mechanics operates in the brain, and that many biological processes may well use quantum effects on the small scale in ways that can effect much larger scales.

As a fascinating example, it has long been known that the human eye/brain system can detect just a few photons of light, and a recent study has quantified this at an unprecedented level. The experimenting team tested the human eye's sensitivity using technology developed in quantum optics and quantum information studies. In conjuncture with psychophysics protocol, they found that the human eyes have the ability to detect the presence of individual photons with a high success rate. The team performed over 30,000 trials with result published in Nature Communications on July 19, 2016.

With such a high-confidence trial, scientists anticipate further testing on humans' ability to directly observe quantum properties via the applied techniques used in the experiment. The findings also raise the question of how biological systems are enabled to attain such sensitivity.

Will this first evidence demonstrating direct perception of a single photon by the human eyes initiate more interest to perform similar testing in the near future?

We will use the number of citations of the paper published in Nature Communications as a measurement. As of quesion open, the paper has been cited by 5 according to Google Scholar. For this question to resolve as positive, Google Scholar must report 10 or more citations by Sept 1, 2017.


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