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For the first time, chemistry can be observed in real-time. Turn a magnetic field off, watch cellular fluorescence dim; turn the magnetic field back on, and watch the cellular fluorescence get brighter.

Tune in to learn more from the lead researcher, including:

  • A likely explanation for how some animals use magnetic fields for navigation
  • Why all cells fluoresce when a light is shined on them, and what determines the degree to which this happens
  • What HeLa cells are, and why they are so useful for this and many other types of research

Jonathan R. Woodward is a professor of environmental sciences at the University of Tokyo, where he’s conducting experiments involving the use of light and magnetic fields for the observation of real-time intracellular chemistry.

When a light is shined on cells, the molecules in the cells undergo a photochemical reaction that proceeds through short-lives species called radical pairs, which Woodward says are at the heart of why cells become sensitive to magnetic fields.

In Woodward’s lab, the goal is to figure out what is happening inside cells, both mechanically and molecularly, during and after the magnetic response. Once a solid understanding has been formed, he and his team can begin asking questions like whether there are any downstream biological effects or health implications of the magnetic response, whether positive or negative.

Woodward dives deep into the details of his experiments, as well as how the science behind it is viewed from the background of quantum biology vs. chemistry vs. physics. He also explains the kinetic isotope effect, electron spin, how free radicals are formed, the two types of angular momentum of the Earth, the Pauli principle in quantum mechanics, evidence of bacterial and non-human animal uses of magnetic fields, and more.

Learn more at http://opes.c.u-tokyo.ac.jp/spinchem/.

Episode also available on Apple Podcasts: apple.co/30PvU9C

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