uncertainty principle

noun

Definition of 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 In a sense, merely looking at a quantum system unavoidably disturbs it, a manifestation of Heisenberg’s famous uncertainty principle. Quanta Magazine, "Why I Called It ‘Quantum Supremacy’," 2 Oct. 2019 But because of the uncertainty principle in quantum physics, the state of a quantum field is never certain, so its energy can never be exactly zero. Quanta Magazine, "Why the Tiny Weight of Empty Space Is Such a Huge Mystery," 12 Mar. 2018 In a sense, merely looking at a quantum system unavoidably disturbs it, a manifestation of Heisenberg’s famous uncertainty principle. Wired, "Why I Coined the Term ‘Quantum Supremacy’," 6 Oct. 2019 That leaves us with one option: to lean on Keats’s uncertainty principle and find joy in the mystery. Lindsay Warner, Harper's BAZAAR, "Why I Chose to Freeze My Eggs," 27 Sep. 2019 Quantum mechanics became a strange kind of theory not with Werner Heisenberg’s famous uncertainty principle in 1927, nor when Albert Einstein and two colleagues identified (and Erwin Schrödinger named) entanglement in 1935. Quanta Magazine, "Mysterious Quantum Rule Reconstructed From Scratch," 13 Feb. 2019 The point about the uncertainty principle is one that deserves some further study. The Editors, Scientific American, "Readers Respond to "Is Time an Illusion?" and Other Articles," 1 Oct. 2010 To be clear, squeezing doesn’t violate the uncertainty principle. Sophia Chen, WIRED, "Physicists Hack the Uncertainty Principle to See an Ion Wiggle," 20 June 2019 Bending the uncertainty principle has proven necessary as physicists probe subtler phenomena. Sophia Chen, WIRED, "Physicists Hack the Uncertainty Principle to See an Ion Wiggle," 20 June 2019

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'uncertainty principle.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

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First Known Use of uncertainty principle

1929, in the meaning defined above

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The first known use of uncertainty principle was in 1929

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Cite this Entry

“Uncertainty principle.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/uncertainty%20principle. Accessed 7 Apr. 2020.

More from Merriam-Webster on uncertainty principle

Britannica.com: Encyclopedia article about uncertainty principle

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