On April 29 and 30, 2019, Marco Pettini, MOLINT project leader, organized a Colloquium entitled « Bose-Einstein Condensation in Inorganic and Organic Matter ». In brief, this interdisciplinary project, between the physical and biological sciences, consists of research into the functioning of the molecular machinery at work in living matter: the aim is to determine how the electromagnetic forces normally generated in biological macromolecules can support molecular dynamics in living organisms.
The central topic of this meeting has been “coherence” in a broad sense and in a broad variety of physical and biophysical contexts. Generally speaking, with coherence it is meant a collective, well organized behavior of the constituents of a physical system taking place either at thermal equilibrium or in stationary states out-of-equilibrium, andin classical or inquantum frameworks. Ordered dynamical events of both classical and quantum origin can provide precious clues for understanding the behavior of living matter at the molecular level: collective out-of-equilibrium vibrations of biomolecules can activate long-range selective interactions at a long distance driving the encounters of cognate partners of biochemical reactions inside cells; quantum excitations propagating along the stacks of aromatic rings of Tryptophansubunits of the tubulin molecules composing microtubules (the constituents of cytoskeletons) can explain several aspects of their functioning in healthy and cancer cells. These two examples, out of many other topics addressed during the Colloquium, illustrate how fundamental theoretical physics supported by the irreplaceable support of sophisticated experiments – nowadays made possible by remarkable technological advances – are very promising and unconventional tools and methods to tackle challenging conceptual problems raised by the astonishing complexity of living matter. The Colloquium has been opened by six contributions providing surveys of experimental techniques and methods – in both condensed matter and soft matter of biological relevance – and of new fascinating experimental phenomena in the energy domain of a few meV, thus in the THz and Far Infrared spectroscopic domains. Then the contributions that followed focused on the theoretical explanations of the experimental results reported in the first contributions, and on basic mechanisms producing coherence phenomena, especially in water which plays major roles in living matter.
The format was intentionally limited to a rather small number of participants in order to leave enough space to informal discussions which, in fact, have been very stimulating and fruitful. And this because the Colloquium has been intended as a test for a more ambitious action leading to the organization of an International Conference on the same scientific topics. Moreover, this meeting has effectively promoted a networking among scientists that met for the first time, leading to the decision to submit common research projects to funding agencies in Europe and in the United States.