Home > All > The uncertainty principle has always seemed perfectly reasonable to me

The uncertainty principle has always seemed perfectly reasonable to me

There’s an interesting article over at the New Scientist: Sorry Einstein, the universe needs quantum uncertainty. (It’s not new. I can remember being there, but I can’t remember how I got there.) The apology to Einstein is because he was never quite happy with uncertainty since God doesn’t play dice (but as soon as anyone mentions God, you can kiss goodbye to logic and start thinking about mystical unreality).

Now Stephanie Wehner and Esther Hänggi at the National University of Singapore’s Centre for Quantum Technology have taken a new tack, recasting the uncertainty principle in the language of information theory.

The upshot is that without uncertainty, a particle defies the second law – it effectively becomes a perpetual motion machine; ergo, the universe requires uncertainty to maintain this false sense of reality we call existence. If everything was in perpetual and perpetually increasing motion and commotion, we would be living in Pandaemonium. Don’t answer that.

Forgive the ramblings of a non-scientist, but where is the problem with uncertainty? Matter is simply a physical manifestation of energy. The smallest possible particle of matter is the manifestation of a very small amount of energy. The very small amount of energy in that very small particle is sufficient to display position or motion; but not both simultaneously. In order to display both, the matter would need to comprise more energy than the energy it takes to comprise the matter. Nevermind defiance of the second law of thermodynamics, this is a simple absurdity.

It’s just like when you find granddad – or me, for that matter – standing gormlessly at the larder door. He, or I, just about have enough energy to get there, but not enough energy to simultaneously know why we got there. That’s the uncertainty principle in practice; and it’s perfectly understandable.

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  1. May 5, 2013 at 4:41 pm

    It is noteworthy that Einstein did not believe in a personal god. His use of the word was metaphorical for the laws of physics.

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