indeterminacy

uncertainty principle

or Heisenberg uncertainty principle or indeterminacy principle

Principle that states that the position and velocity of an object cannot both be measured exactly at the same time, and that the concepts of exact position and exact velocity together have no meaning in nature. Articulated by Werner Heisenberg in 1927, it applies only at the small scales of atoms and subatomic particles and is not noticeable for macroscopic objects, such as moving vehicles. Any attempt to measure the velocity of a subatomic particle precisely will displace the particle in an unpredictable way, thus invalidating any simultaneous measurement of its position. This displacement is a result of the wave nature of particles (see wave-particle duality). The principle also applies to other related pairs of variables, such as energy and time.

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