Uncertainty Principle

By: Brandon Hensley & Justin Terhorst

Chemistry 2

Period 8

September 13, 2016


Werner Heisenberg


Born: December 5, 1901

Died: February 1, 1976 at age 74


Studied physics at the University of Munich where he later recieved his Phd.

Werner Heisenberg

Werner Heisenberg came up with his uncertainty principle in 1927. The principle was formulated using "thought experiments", or mathematical calculations, due to the tiny scale of the principle's subjects (atomic particles).

Uncertainty Principle

Although the principle was formulated in the field of physics, it has far reaching influences in many other areas of study, specifically chemistry.

Uncertainty Principle

The Heisenberg Uncertainty Principle simply stated -

  • The momentum and position of a particle, like an electron, cannot be known at the same time with certainty.

Uncertainty Principle: Simple Overview

Uncertainty Principle

The Heisenberg Uncertainty Principle describes the relationship of an atomic particle's momentum and position.

  • If the position of the particle, such as an electron, is known its momentum cannot be known.
  •  The same occurs if a particle's momentum is known, its position cannot be.

Uncertainty Principle

Mathematically, the uncertainty principle is shown in the image to the left. In the equation, x represents position and p represents momentum.

Planck's Constant, shown to the left, is a mathematical constant in quantum physics  that describes the behavior of particles and waves on the atomic scale.
 

Uncertainty Principle

The equation shows that the product of the uncertainties in position and momentum is equal to or greater than the minuscule physical quantity h/2 (Planck's Constant divided by 2).

  • The product of the uncertainties is only significant for extremely tiny masses, such as atoms and subatomic particles.

The product of the uncertainties being greater than h/2 shows that the particle's position and momentum cannot be known at such a small scale.

  • As an example the equation can be used for something like an automobile. For larger objects, larger than atom sized, it is easy to know its position and momentum at the same time. The equation will show that the degree of uncertainty is too small to be observed.
  • On the other hand, at an atomic or subatomic level the uncertainty of the position or momentum of a particle is much greater than Planck's Constant (an extremely small number) and any attempt to measure both variables at the same time will throw the other off.

Uncertainty Principle

In the field of chemistry it is vitally important to know certain specifics about an atom and to know how the atomic world works.

  • In order to identify what element the atom is and what its properties are, the amount of electrons must be known as well as the atomic mass.
  • An electron's position or momentum can be important in experimenting with combining elements to make new substances.
  • It is important in certain physical or theoretical chemistry experiments to know how a particular particle, an electron for example, behaves when a stimuli is added.
  • The Heisenberg Uncertainty Principle furthers our understanding of the atom and subatomic world.
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Werner Heisenberg's Uncertainty Principle

by bihensley98

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Public - 9/13/16, 5:42 PM