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Position or Momentum, but not both (Mike Andersson)
(original, chuckle, physics)

A graduate student here at the Physics Department 
is a former roommate of mine, so I will 
periodically bug him with things that I don't know 
and I think he should.  This time, I thought he 
had a GPS (Global Positioning System) receiver, 
and could tell me exactly where we are located.

Oh, yes, last time I asked him this question, the 
department moved to a new building.  In any case, 
our correspondence: 

> To: Jeff George <>
> From: Mike Andersson <>


Can you tell me exactly where we are (GPS)?

> From: Jeff George <>
> To: Mike Andersson <>

[two weeks later]

I haven't responded to your question because I do 
not yet know where we are.  In fact, I am somewhat 
hesitant to find out.  As a fine example of 
Heisenberg's uncertainty principle, last time you 
asked me about the position of the building, that 
knowledge caused great uncertainty in the momentum 
of the building.  It is now exceedingly likely 
that we are somewhere else.  Aside from the fact 
that having a building with very uncertain 
momentum could be quite dangerous to neighboring 
structures and passersby, I simply don't have the 
time or the inclination to keep packing up our lab 
every time you want to know where we are. 


OK, so how about if I determine the momentum of 
the building to be zero?  Can you tell the 
location *then*? 


If you find it is near zero, fine, the building 
isn't moving.  But if you find that the building's 
momentum is exactly zero, you won't have the 
foggiest idea where it is. 

Furthermore, I have no objection to your making 
this momentum measurement as long as you do not 
share the results with me.  I have a hard enough 
time getting getting myself from the bus to my lab 
that early in the morning without making the 
location of the building even more uncertain. 

More importantly, since you're staff, I do not 
know if the state employee handbook allows the 
inability to find the worksite to be a valid 
excuse for absenteeism. 


By the way, I still don't know exactly where I am.  :-)

(From the "Rest" of RHF)

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