Heisenberg and Soup
Often I've heard people use the Heisenberg Uncertainty
Principle to explain why soup temperature can't be accurately measured
because the thermometer itself adds or subtracts to/from the temperature,
or that surveys can never receive truly accurate results because the
participating peoples' answers are affected by the survey itself.
However, as stated in Dr. Bart Kosko's book, "Fuzzy Thinking," I think
that the HUP is misused in these circumstances. Am I (and Dr Kosko) right
in this assumption, or are these variants of the principle that are
You and Dr. Kosko are correct. There are experimental things oue could do
to get a more accurate soup-temperature measurement, such as independently
calibrating the heat capacities of the soup and thermometer at different
temperatures. However, there is no way to get around or correct for the
Heisenberg Uncertainty Principle.
The soup temperature is a useful analogy of how the HUP works, but it is not
Richard E. Barrans Jr., Ph.D.
PG Research Foundation, Darien, Illinois
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Update: June 2012