Absolute Zero and Heisenberg Uncertainty Principal

I was reading a physics forum archive in which someone asked the question of whether absolute zero was obtainable because there would be no molecular motion and thus, they felt, by extension the Heisenberg uncertainty principal would break down.

I don’t see any reason the Heisenberg uncertainty principal should break down. Since the velocity is known exactly (zero), the position of the atom wouldn’t be known. Bose Einstein condensate, a state of matter when brought close to absolute zero and the individual atoms act as if they were one, is evidence of exactly that happening.

2 thoughts on “Absolute Zero and Heisenberg Uncertainty Principal

  1. Brady Beckham

    I was of the same impression. In fact I used the idea that Heisenberg would break down as an answer to why we couldn’t reach absolute zero in a Chemistry class once. I got the question right, but I do question that professors knowledge of theoretical quantum physics… it was an introductory class. I went to the lecture 4 times.

    Now I’m thinking Heisenberg would still have to break down, but does that really mean we can’t do it? I’ll check back for more educated comments later.

    I have a lot of ideas on Heisenberg that I am reluctant to post because I wonder how much of it is BS.

  2. Nanook

    I don’t see why it has to break down. If the velocity is known absolutely, then the position can simply be unknown completely. In other words, smeared out entirely over space.

    As I stated previously, I think a Bose-Einstein condensate is pointing to this, the atoms act as one because their location is smeared because their velocity is known to a degree of certainty.

    I really don’t think it’s a matter of knowing so much as it is a matter of the intrinsic nature of space-time.

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