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Proof Mooted For Heisenberg's Uncertainty Principle 158

ananyo writes "Encapsulating the strangeness of quantum mechanics is a single mathematical expression. According to every undergraduate physics textbook, the uncertainty principle states that it is impossible to simultaneously know the exact position and momentum of a subatomic particle — the more precisely one knows the particle's position at a given moment, the less precisely one can know the value of its momentum. But the original version of the principle, put forward by physicist Werner Heisenberg in 1927, couches quantum indeterminism in a different way — as a fundamental limit to how well a detector can measure quantum properties. Heisenberg offered no direct proof for this version of his principle. Now researchers say they have such a proof. (Pre-print available at the arXiv.) If they're right, it would put the measurement aspect of the uncertainty principle on solid ground — something that researchers had started to question — but it would also suggest that quantum-encrypted messages can be transmitted securely."
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Proof Mooted For Heisenberg's Uncertainty Principle

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  • by Grantbridge ( 1377621 ) on Wednesday June 26, 2013 @05:25AM (#44110125)
    The uncertainty principle is the same as taking a Fourier transform of a sound pulse. If the time of the wave is short then the uncertainty in the frequency is high, and you get a large width in frequency space. If the wave is on for a long time, you get a nice sine wave and the uncertainty in the frequency is low, but the uncertainty in the time is now high. The maths for momentum/position of electrons comes out the same as time/frequency of sound waves. You get the uncertainty principle with non-quantised waves anyway, its not magic!
  • by vikingpower ( 768921 ) on Wednesday June 26, 2013 @06:56AM (#44110417) Homepage Journal
    It seems the paper can be understood with undergraduate mathematics. The 3 authors' argumentation seems quite clear, and their proof rather convincing. One wonders, now and at this point, whether a lab experiment could be set up to falsify the whole thing... If not, Heisenberg stands proven true. Of the impact upon quantum cryptography I am not so sure, however, supposing that it takes "some quite advanced mathematics" ( as Wolfram once said about cyclotomic fields ) to tackle that issue.
  • by johanw ( 1001493 ) on Wednesday June 26, 2013 @07:08AM (#44110455)

    Robertson proved in 1929 already the general form of the uncertainty relation. It has nothing to do with Fourier transforms, wavefunctions and disturbance by measurements, but only with the operator character of (some) quantum mechanical observables. I got the proof from this textbook by Stephen Gasiorowicz, unfortunately they skipped this important result from the latest edition (that circulates on internet in the usual places). More information can be found in []

    From Quantum Physics by Stephen Gasiorowicz, ISBN 0 471 29281-8

    It is important to note that the uncertainty relation

    (Delta A)^2 (Delta B)^2 >= \langle i[A,B] \rangle^2 / 2

    was derived without any use of the wave concepts or the reciprocity between
    a wave form and its fourier transform. The results depends entirely on the
    operator properties of the observables A and B.

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