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# Re: Universal Constants

From: Steve Pugh <mafb90@d...>
Date: Thu, 12 Feb 1998 13:37:28 +0000
Subject: Re: Universal Constants
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Ah a Physics Thread! I love these.

> >states, Oscar's Razor comes into play. (Oscar's Razor states that you
> >cannot tell both the energy state and position of an electron. This
is
> >because the act of observing an electron changes its state). Again,
> >scaling up from subatomic to newtonian level presents a problem. *It
may
> >be Oscam's Razor. My brain is fading now.
>
> Almost :). I believe it's Hiezenberg's Uncertainty Priniciple (and
even the
> I may have spelled his name wrong). Actually, as I remember, you can't
> measure the amount of energy an electron of itself has - the energy
state
> of an electron is down to where it's orbiting round an atom and you
measure
> the amount of energy it gives off when it changes orbits in the form
of EM
> radiation. These *are* (as far as I remember) universally constant.

Oh boy. Heisenberg's Uncertainty Principle states that you can not know
both the position and the momentum of a particle to an arbitrary degree
of precision. In other words if you know the position precisely then
there
is a minimum degree of uncertainty to your knowledge of the momentum.

It also works for energy and time. If you know the energy of a particle
precisely  then there is a minimum uncertainty to the length of time
it will stay in that energy state.

> And a I think it's Occam's Razor, which is the
> 'if it quacks like a duck and walks like a duck' one.

Occam's Razor is a statement that you should make as few assumptions
as possible. Which can lead to the duck statement so long as you
_know_ rather than _assume_ that ducks are the only things that
walk like a duck and quacks like a duck. Occam's Razor is useful but
rather over-rated.
(What you are thinking of might be the equivalence principle which
states that if you find _an_ answer you have found _the_ answer.)

Cheers,
Steve

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