QotD: True Saying

Which saying do you believe to be true, but just can't seem to follow? 
Submitted by Maxvan.

"It is impossible to determine simultaneously the position and momentum of an atomic particle."

Though I have to admit, I'm not completely sure about that one…

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16 thoughts on “QotD: True Saying

  1. Explanation: The above is a paraphrase of the Heisenberg Uncertainty Principle, which is important in quantum physics — but because it has a catchy name has become pretty often quoted in pop-culture.
    I was looking for a snarky way to answer another droll QotD and I think I set the geek-meter too high. Sorry for any short circuits!

  2. I'm not a scientist by any means, but if the atomic particle was at an extremely low temperature, wouldn't you be able to determine it's position and momentum since it would be stationary?

  3. Good answer Steve, this is a tricky one to get your head around. The Heisenberg Uncertainty Principle relates to measuring the momentum or position of an electron relative to its nucleus. The problem is that neither of these properties exist for the electron, at least as we know them in the macroscopic or real world, until we measure them. The probability that the electron's will be at any given position is balanced against the probability of its speed, so the more accurately we measure its position at a given moment, the less accurately we know its momentum. That probably didn't help anyone.

  4. Wasn't too geeky an answer for me…Then again, my wife recently caught me attempting to write a program to automatically remind me when my car needed servicing…so not a lot is too geeky for me :P

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