A sufficiently complex set of molecules, if subject to perturbation, will self-organize and show emergent behaviour. If such a system can take on information it will become subject to natural selection. This could explain how self-replicating molecules evolved into life and how intelligence arose. A pivotal step in this evolutionary process was of course the emergence of the eukaryote and the advent of the mitochondrion, which both enhanced energy production per cell and increased the ability to process, store and utilize information. Recent research suggest that from its inception life embraced quantum effects such as 'tunnelling' and 'coherence' while competition and stressful conditions provided a constant driver for natural selection. We believe that the biphasic adaptive response to stress described by hormesis-a process that captures information to enable adaptability, is central to this whole process. Critically, hormesis could improve mitochondrial quantum efficiency, improving the ATP/ROS ratio, whereas inflammation, which is tightly associated with the aging process, might do the opposite. This all suggests that to achieve optimal health and healthy aging, one has to sufficiently stress the system to ensure peak mitochondrial function, which itself could reflect selection of optimum efficiency at the quantum level.
Keywords: aging; cognition; hormesis; inflammation; mitochondria; quantum; thermodynamics.
© 2016 The Author(s). published by Portland Press Limited on behalf of the Biochemical Society.