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Singularity of atomic particle characteristics.

  1. Nov 8, 2015 #1
    At any instant in time, for an atomic particle, are its characteristics singular?
     
    Last edited: Nov 8, 2015
  2. jcsd
  3. Nov 8, 2015 #2

    Drakkith

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    Staff: Mentor

    What do you mean?
     
  4. Nov 8, 2015 #3
    At an instant in time, is each characteristic of a particle (e.g. momentum, location, etc) a single value.
     
  5. Nov 8, 2015 #4

    Drakkith

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    That depends on the characteristic. I believe some characteristics, such as mass or charge, are always constant. However, some are inherently probabilistic and can't even be known without a measurement. Momentum and position are two such characteristics. It isn't even possible to say what the momentum or position of a particle is prior to measuring that particle.
     
  6. Nov 8, 2015 #5
    Thank you for your prompt reply. I should have been clearer.

    Before any attempt to perform any observation of a particle, at some instant in time is its velocity a single value?
     
  7. Nov 8, 2015 #6

    Drakkith

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    No, it is also not knowable. It's sometimes difficult to even attribute a velocity to a subatomic particle, especially if it is in a bound state.
     
  8. Nov 8, 2015 #7
    Please realize that I am not asking if any of these properties can be can be "known". My question is:
    Do you understand my question?
     
  9. Nov 8, 2015 #8

    Dale

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    What kind of experiment could be performed, even in principle, to answer your question? In other words, what experiment would lead you to conclude "yes, before any attempt to perform any observation of a particle, at some instant in time its velocity is a single value".

    If there is no such experiment which could someday be performed then the question is philosophical rather than scientific.
     
  10. Nov 8, 2015 #9

    davenn

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    Yes, Drakkith does understand
    But you seem not to be understanding his answer

    PRIOR to measurement the properties you mentioned of that particle are unknown

    Dave
     
  11. Nov 9, 2015 #10
    -
     
    Last edited: Nov 9, 2015
  12. Nov 9, 2015 #11
    To all, thank you for participating.

    You may see my objective. To me this seems to be the first question in a discussion of determinism. So is it philosophical? At least a part of it is probably philosophical. That doesn't make it a bad question.

    So another version of the question could be:

    Is there an interpretation of any principle that prohibits a particle from having a single value of velocity at an instant in time?

    And if so please explain how you got there.
     
  13. Nov 9, 2015 #12

    Dale

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    Certainly it is not a bad question, but we only address scientific questions here. So this isn't the place for it.

    This thread is closed. But if you think of a related scientific question then we can certainly discuss that in a new thread.
     
    Last edited: Nov 9, 2015
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