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Posts Tagged ‘Uncertainty’

Have you ever played golf?

No?  If I hum a few bars, do you think you could play it?

If you have, though, I am sure there have been times that you stand over that little ball on the green and ask yourself, ‘why didn’t I go bowling today?’

GolfPutts

You are faced with a daunting task.  Your ball is here.  The hole is over there.  If you’re like me, it’s waaaay over there.  And you have to figure out some way (other than picking the ball up and dropping it in the cup, which although that makes perfect sense, is not allowed by the rules of the game) to get the ball from here to there in the fewest tries.  In short, you can’t get there from here.

Who came up with this?

Sure, it’s not that big of a problem for Tiger Woods, Jack Nicklaus or Sammy Snead, but you and I, my friend, are not professional golfers.

If we somehow manage to map the landscape of the green and predict the probable trajectory of the ball, we are sure to hit it too hard or leave it short.  If by some stroke of luck we find the proper putting swing to impart the correct speed on the ball, it will not roll in the direction of the hole.

This, in a nutshell, is the Heisenberg Uncertainty Principle.

The uncertainty principle also called the Heisenberg Uncertainty Principle, or Indeterminacy Principle, articulated (1927) by the German physicist Werner Heisenberg, that the position and the velocity of an object cannot both be measured exactly, at the same time, even in theory.

In other words, it is impossible for me to know the location of the ball and it’s speed during a given putt–I may not know either, for that matter.  But it would appear that it is just dumb luck if I manage both trajectory and velocity at the same time.  Ergo, it is not my fault I can’t putt.  It’s physics.  I’m sure if I research this long enough, I’ll be able to prove why I can’t drive, chip or hit an iron straight.  Hopefully, I’ll be able to eventually come up with a Unifying Theory of the Universe to explain why I can’t cook, do laundry or vacuum the house.

And as for the professional golfers . . . they are either the luckiest bunch of macrophysicists on the planet, or the Laws of Physics don’t apply to them.

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