yes, therapy helps!
The uncertainty principle of Heisenberg: what explains us?

The uncertainty principle of Heisenberg: what explains us?

April 1, 2024

Imagine that a fly constantly flies around us in concentric circles, with such speed that we are not able to follow it with the naked eye. As its buzz disturbs us, we want to know its exact location .

For this we will have to develop some kind of method that allows us to see it. It may occur to us, for example, to surround the area with a substance that may be affected by its passage, so that we can locate its position. But this method will reduce your speed. In fact, the more we try to know where it is, the more we are going to have to slow it down (since it keeps moving). The same happens when we take the temperature: the instrument itself has a certain temperature that can cause the alteration of the original temperature of what we want to measure.

These hypothetical situations can be used as an analogy to what happens when we want to observe the movement of a subatomic particle as an electron. And it serves, likewise, to explain the uncertainty principle of Heisenberg . In this article I will explain briefly what this concept consists of.

  • Maybe you're interested: "Kurt Lewin and the Theory of the Field: the birth of social psychology"

Werner Heisenberg: brief review of his life

Werner Heisenberg, German scientist born in Würzburg in the year 1901, he is mainly known for his participation in the development of quantum mechanics and for having discovered the uncertainty principle (and also for calling the protagonist of Breaking Bad a nickname). Although he initially trained in mathematics, Heisenberg would finish his doctorate in physics, an area where he would apply elements of mathematics such as matrix theory.

From this fact, matrix or matrix mechanics would emerge, which would be fundamental when establishing the principle of indeterminacy. This scientist would greatly contribute to the development of quantum mechanics, developing matrix quantum mechanics for which he would end up receiving the Nobel Prize in Physics in 1932.

Heisenberg would also be commissioned during the Nazi era of the construction of nuclear reactors , although their efforts in this area proved unsuccessful. After the war he would declare, together with other scientists, that the lack of results was premeditated in order to avoid the use of atomic bombs. After the war it would be locked up with the other different German scientists, but it ended up being liberated. He died in 1976.

The principle of indetermination of Heisenberg

The uncertainty or indeterminacy principle of Heisenberg establishes the impossibility at subatomic level of know at the same time the position and the moment or amount of movement (the speed) of a particle.

This principle comes from the fact that Heisenberg observed that if we want to locate an electron in space it is necessary to bounce photons in it . However, this produces an alteration in its moment, so that what makes it possible to locate the electron hinders the precise observation of its linear momentum.

The observer alters the environment

This impossibility is due to the process itself that allows us to measure it, since at the time of performing the measurement of the position the same method alters the speed at which the particle travels .

In fact, it is established that the greater the certainty of the position of the particle, the less knowledge of its moment or amount of movement, and vice versa. It is not a question of the measurement instrument altering the movement itself or that it is imprecise, simply that the fact of measuring it produces an alteration.

In conclusion, this principle assumes that we can not know exactly all the data regarding the behavior of the particles, since the precise knowledge of an aspect supposes that we can not know with the same level of precision the other.

Relating the uncertainty principle with Psychology

It may seem that a concept of quantum physics does not have much relation to the scientific discipline that studies the mind and mental processes. However, the general concept behind the Heisenberg uncertainty principle it is applicable within psychology and even from the social sciences.

The Heisenberg principle assumes that Matter is dynamic and not completely predictable , but it is in continuous movement and it is not possible to measure a certain aspect without taking into account that the fact of measuring it alter others. This implies that we have to take into account both what we observe and what we do not.

Linking this to the study of the mind, mental processes or even social relationships, that means that measuring a phenomenon or mental process means focusing on it, ignoring others and also assuming that the measurement itself can cause an alteration in the what we measure The psychological reactance, for example, indicates this effect.

Influencing the object of study

For example, if we try to assess a person's attention span, can be nervous and distracted thinking that we are evaluating , or it can suppose a pressure that makes him concentrate more than what would be habitual in his daily life. Focusing and deepening only in one specific aspect may cause us to forget others, such as the motivation in this case to perform the test.

Likewise, it is not only relevant at the level of research but can be linked to the perceptual process itself. If we focus our attention on one voice, for example, the others will muffle.

The same happens if we stare at something: the rest loses clarity. It can even be observed at a cognitive level; if we think about an aspect of reality and go deeper into it, let's leave aside other aspects of said reality in which we participate.

It also happens in social relationships: for example, if we think that someone is trying to manipulate us, we will stop paying so much attention to what he says, and the same thing can happen in reverse. It is not that we can not pay attention to the rest, but that the more we focus on something and the more precise we are in that something, the less we are able to detect something different at the same time.

  • Maybe you're interested: "History of Psychology: authors and main theories"

Bibliographic references:

  • Esteban, S. and Navarro, R. (2010). General chemistry: volume I. Madrid: Editorial UNED.
  • Galindo, A .; Pascual, P. (1978). Quantum mechanics. Madrid: Alhambra.

Heisenberg's Uncertainty Principle Explained (April 2024).

Similar Articles