The Nature of Quantum Fluctuations

(Last Updated On: August 24, 2019)

To fully understand Quantum Fluctuations, we must first understand the Uncertainty Principle and its derivatives.

Heisenberg’s Uncertainty Principle

In general terms, Heisenberg’s Uncertainty Principle is a set of Mathematical Inequalities that assert a fundamental limit to the amount of precision with which certain pairs of physical properties of a particle, such as position x and momentum p, can be known to an observer.

In simple terms, If you have precisely measured the position of a quantum particle, you cannot measure the same particle’s momentum with the same precision.

Quantum Fluctuations

Or if you have measured the particle’s momentum with precision, you can’t measure its position with the same precision.

Now, In the macro-world (the world we live in), we cannot possibly confirm this principle as the objects and elements are generally bigger in size. However, as the sizes start to become small, we can see the effect of getting more and more dominant in direct relation to the size and scale of the particles.

So, you have now seen the Heisenberg’s Uncertainty Principle for two conjugate variables, Position (x) and Momentum (p). Now the same Heisenberg’s Uncertainty Principle applies not only to these two but also to Energy (E) and Time (t). The relation thus infers that, If you precisely measure a particle’s energy, you cannot measure the time Interval of that energy Period with such high precision and vice-a-versa.

Now you might be wondering, what does this have to do with Quantum Fluctuations and all? Here’s your Answer –

Quantum Fluctuations

quantum fluctuations
Predicted vs Original Flow of Fluids in Presence of QF

Quantum fluctuations (also called Vacuum Fluctuations) are a temporary change in the amount of energy at a point in space.

Now you see, time is involved here. Since time is a factor that is affected by energy (or, it affects energy), the Heisenberg’s Uncertainty Principle we discussed above, comes into play here.

Remember what we learned about Energy-Time Relationships? Well, these have direct applications here.

What exactly happened in Quantum Fluctuations is that virtual particles come and pop out of existence. Since everything in our universe is essentially energy, in empty space (where there is only the vacuum), these virtual particles (somehow) borrow a certain amount of energy from our universe and then pop into existence.

Such particles only appear in pairs of particle-antiparticle system. Now, you might be thinking that energy is conserved throughout our universe (1st Law of Thermodynamics), then these particles seem to violate that, right?

Well, actually NO. You see, these particles only appear in particle-antiparticle (matter-antimatter) pair. And it is the tendency of matter to annihilate and give out extreme amounts of energy when in contact with its antimatter counterpart.

Quantum Fluctuations
Quantum Fluctuations

So, as soon as these particle pairs come into existence, then react with each other, give out extreme energy and then they pop out of existence.

This is the sole reason why these particles (and quantum fluctuation, in general) do not contradict the 1st law of thermodynamics.

Since these particles come and pop out of existence so fast, their effect to observe is hard but not impossible. This subsequent popping in and out of existence creates energy fluctuations in the fabric of space-time (since these particles borrow energy and then return it back to the universe).

Also Read: Space Time – What is it? – Simple Explanation

The thing about quantum fluctuations is that they keep happening all the time in a pure vacuum (completely empty, where the probability of finding a single atom or sub-atomic particle is nearly null) space. Since these keep happening in a purely empty universe, these fluctuations are thus being observed every moment.

So, This was all for this Article! I Hope you all enjoyed and found it informative!

If you have any doubts or want to point out anything about the Article, please be sure to comment down below!

Physics is Poetry

Also Read: Human Brain is A Quantum Computer – Quantum Brain And Quantum Consciousness

Tanay Mehta

A lover of Tech as well as Physics. Truth seeker.

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