Heisenberg may have been here?

22 10 2008

I’ve heard and read the Heisenberg joke told many times, several ways and also incorrectly.

To understand the joke, you have to know a bit about Quantum Mechanics, mainly Heisenberg’s Uncertainty Principle. oooohh~

It basically states that certain specific pairs of variables cannot be measured simultaneously with high accuracy. In this case, we’re looking at position and momentum. Now you CAN determine how fast the particle is moving, and then locate it at some OTHER point in time, but to do both at the same time is a nono as the measuring process interferes to a substantial degree with what is being measured.

Confused? Well, there’s a lengthy mathematical proof with lotsa formulas and such but what it comes down to is:

if you know where a particle is, you can’t tell how fast it is going; and if you know its speed, you cannot know its location as the act of observing it will change the other variable.

To a physicist, this joke is clever but to everyone else it pretty much reads nonsense, and it is nonsense if Heisenberg’s answer is (as told by some people) ‘i know exactly where i am.’ Because that just reads cheeky and ‘well, DUH!!’ But because the tense is consistant (how fast WERE you going, where i WAS), then the joke is a joke. A clever physics joke. Ha. ( :

Anyway, diwali is coming up, I wanna wish all my friends a happy festival of lights. Also, have you got your costumes for xmas?

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