Math in the Physical Sciences

Modern Physics and Mathematics

What is the Heisenberg uncertainty principle?

German physicist Werner Karl Heisenberg (1901–1976) not only helped with quantum theory of light waves, he also developed the Heisenberg uncertainty principle, an idea used extensively in the modern electronics field. The principle states that it is impossible to determine, at the same time, both the energy and velocity of a particle. Or, in other words, it’s impossible to predict, measure, or know both the exact position of an object and its exact motion at the same time. This principle made a huge dent in Newtonian physics, which relied on a deterministic, “predictable” view of the universe. In simple terms, it showed that the universe does what it wants.



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