Monday, February 27, 2012

Wacky Physics: New Uncertainty About the Uncertainty Principle

Date: 25 February 2012 Time: 10:34 AM ET
An atom consists of a nucleus of protons and neutrons, with electrons orbiting around.
The uncertainty principle posits, for instance, that if you make a measurement to find out the exact position of an electron around an atom, you will only be able to get a hazy idea of how fast it's moving.
CREDIT: Dreamstime
One of the most often quoted, yet least understood, tenets of physics is the uncertainty principle.
Formulated by German physicist Werner Heisenberg in 1927, the rule states that the more precisely you measure a particle's position, the less precisely you will be able to determine its momentum, and vice versa.
The principle is often invoked outside the realm of physics to describe how the act of observing something changes the thing being observed, or to point out that there's a limit to how well we can ever really understand the universe.
While the subtleties of the uncertainty principle are often lost on nonphysicists, it turns out the idea is frequently misunderstood by experts, too. But a recent experiment shed new light on the maxim and led to a novel formula describing how the uncertainty principle really works.



Glenn A. Walsh, Project Director,
Friends of the Zeiss < >
Electronic Mail - < >
  < >
Twitter: < >
Facebook: < >
Blog: < >
Author of History Web Sites on the Internet --
* Buhl Planetarium, Pittsburgh:
  < >
* Adler Planetarium, Chicago:
  < >
* Astronomer, Educator, Optician John A. Brashear:
  < >
* Andrew Carnegie & Carnegie Libraries:
  < >
* Civil War Museum of Andrew Carnegie Free Library:
  < >
* Duquesne Incline cable-car railway, Pittsburgh:
  < >
* Public Transit:
  < >

No comments:

Post a Comment