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September 30 2012

Demolishing Heisenberg with clever math and experiments

Heisenberg's uncertainty principle turns up everywhere in quantum mechanics. The idea is that certain types of measurements like position and momentum are paired. By measuring one of the pair, we generate uncertainty in the other. This is also referred to as quantum back-action: the thing you are measuring pushes back on the measuring system, which generates uncertainty in some other property. This fundamental idea has some serious consequences when it comes to measuring very small stuff, like gravitational waves.

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