If we’re to have any shot at understanding the **Uncertainty Principle**, we must start by exploring particles and waves.

To illustrate the difference, I’ve made a few simple diagrams.

## Particles and Waves

This is a particle:

And this is a wave:

Now I want you to try something.

Using your finger, point to the exact location of the particle:

Easy, right? Now point to the exact location of the wave:

Not so easy, huh? That’s because a wave isn’t in *one* exact location. It’s spread out, with no clearly-defined beginning or end.

Lest you think waves superior, let’s try one other test.

Looking once again at the wave, point in the direction that the wave is moving *(the diagram isn’t ideal for this example, so also try looking at the photo at the top of this page*):

And, lastly, try doing the same with the particle:

Whereas determining the direction of the wave was possible, the direction of the particle is entirely unclear.

## Wave-Particle Duality

The difference between a wave and a particle is simple enough.

But here’s the problem: at the scale of quantum mechanics, **things can be (and often are) both particles and waves**.

And that is where we begin to run into some real trouble.

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We’ll delve a bit deeper in tomorrow’s post. In the meantime, here’s a good video I found about the Uncertainty Principle in general:

**Photo Credit: Wendell (Creative Commons)*

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