Browse Definitions:
Definition

uncertainty principle

The uncertainty principle is the concept that precise, simultaneous measurement of some complementary variables -- such as the position and momentum of a subatomic particle -- is impossible. Contrary to the principles of classical physics, the simultaneous measurement of such variables is inescapably flawed; the more precisely one is measured, the more flawed the measurement of the other will be.

The uncertainty principle, also known as the Heisenberg indeterminancy principle, is an essential component of quantum theory . Werner Heisenberg discovered the uncertainty principle and explained it in a 1927 paper:

"The more precisely the position is determined, the less precisely the momentum is known in this instant, and vice versa."

(translated from Über den anschaulichen Inhalt der quantentheoretischen Kinematik und Mechanik )

Pairs of observable attribute s of a single elementary particle that have what is called an uncertainty relationship are known as conjugate variables . Elementary particles are those without any further substructure, including leptons, quark s and gauge bosons.

The uncertainty principle is represented mathematically by a set of theorems of functional analysis, deriving from the mathematical definition of operator s in quantum mechanics . In practical terms, the concept means that no analysis of a scientific experiment is accurate without acknowledging the nature of the probability distribution (or error) of the measurement itself.

The creation of quantum theory , quantum mechanics and Einstein's theory of relativity formed the basis for modern physics. The principles of quantum physics are still being applied in an increasing number of areas, including quantum optics , quantum chemistry , quantum computing and quantum cryptography .

The uncertainty principle is what prompted Albert Einstein's famous comment, "God does not play dice." Frustrated by incompatible aspects of quantum theory and his theory of relativity, Einstein devoted many years to the search for a unified field theory that would reconcile those issues. The current quest for a unified field theory (sometimes called the holy grail of physicists) is largely focused on superstring theory and, in particular, on an adaptation known as M-theory .

This was last updated in August 2006

Continue Reading About uncertainty principle

Start the conversation

Send me notifications when other members comment.

By submitting you agree to receive email from TechTarget and its partners. If you reside outside of the United States, you consent to having your personal data transferred to and processed in the United States. Privacy

Please create a username to comment.

-ADS BY GOOGLE

File Extensions and File Formats

Powered by:

SearchCompliance

  • PCAOB (Public Company Accounting Oversight Board)

    The Public Company Accounting Oversight Board (PCAOB) is a Congressionally-established nonprofit that assesses audits of public ...

  • cyborg anthropologist

    A cyborg anthropologist is an individual who studies the interaction between humans and technology, observing how technology can ...

  • RegTech

    RegTech, or regulatory technology, is a term used to describe technology that is used to help streamline the process of ...

SearchSecurity

  • Advanced Encryption Standard (AES)

    The Advanced Encryption Standard, or AES, is a symmetric block cipher used by the U.S. government to protect classified ...

  • spear phishing

    Spear phishing is an email-spoofing attack that targets a specific organization or individual, seeking unauthorized access to ...

  • supercookie

    A supercookie is a type of tracking cookie inserted into an HTTP header by an internet service provider to collect data about a ...

SearchHealthIT

SearchDisasterRecovery

  • call tree

    A call tree -- sometimes referred to as a phone tree -- is a telecommunications chain for notifying specific individuals of an ...

  • mass notification system (MNS)

    A mass notification system is a platform that sends one-way messages to inform employees and the public of an emergency.

  • disaster recovery as a service (DRaaS)

    One approach to a strong disaster recovery plan is DRaaS, where companies offload data replication and restoration ...

SearchStorage

  • CIFS (Common Internet File System)

    CIFS (Common Internet File System) is a protocol that gained popularity around the year 2000, as vendors worked to establish an ...

  • GlusterFS (Gluster File System)

    GlusterFS (Gluster File System) is an open source distributed file system that can scale out in building-block fashion to store ...

  • virtual memory

    Virtual memory is a memory management capability of an OS that allows a computer to compensate for physical memory shortages by ...

SearchSolidStateStorage

  • PCIe SSD (PCIe solid-state drive)

    A PCIe SSD (PCIe solid-state drive) is a high-speed expansion card that attaches a computer to its peripherals.

  • SSD caching

    SSD caching, also known as flash caching, is the temporary storage of data on NAND flash memory chips in a solid-state drive so ...

  • NVDIMM (Non-Volatile Dual In-line Memory Module)

    An NVDIMM (non-volatile dual in-line memory module) is hybrid computer memory that retains data during a service outage.

SearchCloudStorage

  • RESTful API

    A RESTful application program interface breaks down a transaction to create a series of small modules, each of which addresses an...

  • cloud storage infrastructure

    Cloud storage infrastructure is the hardware and software framework that supports the computing requirements of a private or ...

  • Zadara VPSA and ZIOS

    Zadara Storage provides block, file or object storage with varying levels of compute and capacity through its ZIOS and VPSA ...

Close