uncertainty principle


: a principle in quantum mechanics: it is impossible to discern simultaneously and with high accuracy both the position and the momentum of a particle (such as an electron)

called also Heisenberg uncertainty principle

Examples of uncertainty principle in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web Importantly, the distance between these two states (alive and dead or up and down) had to be greater than the distance ascribed to the quantum uncertainty principle, which the ETH Zurich scientists confirmed. Lars Fischer, Scientific American, 12 May 2023 In an easy-to-read mix of memoir and science, Pang shows how viewing human behavior through a scientific lens can illuminate its mysteries — like using Heisenberg’s uncertainty principle to illustrate the paradox of living in the moment or using molecular dynamics to talk about crowds. Alex Orlando, Discover Magazine, 7 Nov. 2020 For instance, Einstein refused to believe that Heisenberg's uncertainty principle—which limits how much can be known about a particle's position and speed—was fundamental. Marc-Olivier Renou, Scientific American, 13 Mar. 2023 For now, the uncertainty principle is holding. Joel Gehrke, Washington Examiner, 16 Oct. 2020 The uncertainty principle forbids any quantum system from settling down into a perfectly quiet state of exactly zero energy. Tara C. Smith, Quanta Magazine, 23 Feb. 2023 It’s also used to calculate the distribution of energies for a blackbody (an object that gives off light due only to its temperature), and for the uncertainty principle that gives a relation between measurements of position and momentum. Rhett Allain, Wired, 8 Oct. 2021 Inside Virgo, the uncertainty principle manifests as quantum noise, obscuring the gravitational wave signal. WIRED, 9 Jan. 2023 Clarke does, however, note that not all ‘quantum brain’ theories are based around the uncertainty principle. Neuroskeptic, Discover Magazine, 22 Dec. 2013 See More

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'uncertainty principle.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History

First Known Use

1929, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of uncertainty principle was in 1929

Dictionary Entries Near uncertainty principle

Cite this Entry

“Uncertainty principle.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/uncertainty%20principle. Accessed 3 Dec. 2023.

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