Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Uncertainty Principle

"Heisenberg may have slept here" is written in at least three places in the library. To someone, or several someones, this is a very arresting joke. I am not sure why the joke revolves around Heisenberg possibly sleeping somewhere; I believe it would work with Heisenberg possibly doing anything, as long as it's not certain whether he did it or not, or where. (The Heisenberg's principle says you can only know the position of a particle or its rate of change, but never both at once.) This is, nevertheless, the format the joke usually takes, which I know because I checked with the internet. A better joke is the one that goes: "Heisenberg was pulled over for speeding outside of Munich. The officer asked, 'Do you know how fast you were going?' And Heisenberg said, 'No, but I know where I am.'" Thanks, internet.


Anonymous said...

I like the joke about speeding better. At least it is somewhat related to the issue of speed and position. I wonder how well that would work as a defense in court.

Offender: "Yes, your honor, the officer measured my velocity at 80 MPH, but he could not know where I was, so it is not certain if this proceeding is even in the correct jurisdiction."

Judge: "Well, you are here now, and not going anywhere. $100 or 10 days in jail!"

Simon said...

Is it really only $100 or 10 days in jail? I'd take jail. You save $100 and a whole lot of meals and heat and gas. I should've tried that when I was unemployed.