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ERIC Number: EJ943462
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2011-Oct
Pages: 4
Abstractor: As Provided
Reference Count: 3
ISSN: ISSN-0031-921X
Teaching Quantum Uncertainty
Hobson, Art
Physics Teacher, v49 n7 p434-437 Oct 2011
An earlier paper introduces quantum physics by means of four experiments: Youngs double-slit interference experiment using (1) a light beam, (2) a low-intensity light beam with time-lapse photography, (3) an electron beam, and (4) a low-intensity electron beam with time-lapse photography. It's ironic that, although these experiments demonstrate most of the quantum fundamentals, conventional pedagogy stresses their difficult and paradoxical nature. These paradoxes (i.e., logical contradictions) vanish, and understanding becomes simpler, if one takes seriously the fact that quantum mechanics is the nonrelativistic limit of our most accurate physical theory, namely quantum field theory, and treats the Schroedinger wave function, as well as the electromagnetic field, as quantized fields. Both the Schroedinger field, or "matter field," and the EM field are made of "quanta"--spatially extended but energetically discrete chunks or bundles of energy. Each quantum comes nonlocally from the entire space-filling field and interacts with macroscopic systems such as the viewing screen by collapsing into an atom instantaneously and randomly in accordance with the probability amplitude specified by the field. Thus, uncertainty and nonlocality are inherent in quantum physics. This paper is about quantum uncertainty. A planned later paper will take up quantum nonlocality.
American Association of Physics Teachers. One Physics Ellipse, College Park, MD 20740. Tel: 301-209-3300; Fax: 301-209-0845; e-mail:; Web site:
Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Descriptive
Education Level: Elementary Secondary Education; Higher Education
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A