Friday, October 18, 2013

You Can't Escape The Heisenberg Uncertainty Limit

A rather interesting treatment of redefining the Heisenberg uncertainty principle, in light of recent advancement in the so-called weak-measurement experiments.

The popular conception of the Heisenberg uncertainty principle is that measurement is unavoidably invasive. We disturb an object when we observe it, thus introducing error into subsequent measurements. However, recent experiments (see 6 September 2012 Synopsis) claim to have measurement errors below the Heisenberg limit. To address this apparent contradiction, a paper in Physical Review Letters reports a new formulation of the uncertainty principle in which measurement disturbance depends on the performance of the measuring device, which is quantified as the maximum possible change in the state of the object.
Paul Busch of the University of York in the UK and his colleagues believe there is no contradiction here, but only a misunderstanding over how to characterize the effects of measurement. Previously, measurement-induced errors have been calculated on a state-by-state basis, by comparing the state of a system “before” and “after” a measurement. But Busch et al. show that defining measurement error in a state-independent way, through a kind of calibration process of the measuring device, leads to limits in line with the uncertainty principle.
 I expect more of something like this to occur as we probe the more minute detail of QM.


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