Durban – While most of us have only heard about quantum physics by watching the Big Bang Theory, a week doing nuclear physics in matric led to a fascination for quantum physics – and whether it plays a role in the workings of the brain – for UKZN PhD student Betony Adams.
The research by Adams and her supervisor, Professor Francesco Petruccione, has featured in the lead article of the Physics World, January edition, “Light of the Mind: Is Quantum Physics Linked to Consciousness?”.
This week, she said: “When I visited the group, I really liked the people as well as the research they were doing, which led to my MSc in physics at UKZN.”
Adams, who grew up on a farm in Estcourt, said: “I’ve always been fascinated with living things and by light, so I feel really lucky to get to combine these interests in my research.
“I didn’t particularly enjoy physics at school, but I seem to remember we spent a week or so on nuclear physics in matric.
“I felt like I was being given a window into the secret lives of all the inscrutable objects around me. I think this sense of wonder is at the heart of my decision to do physics.”
Commenting on the January article in Physics World, Adams said: “My research looks at whether quantum effects might play a role in how the brain works. The article in Physics World covered a number of possible quantum effects, but my PHD research focuses on quantum entanglement between neurons and how this might be influenced by pharmaceutical drugs such as lithium.