# Uncertainty principle explanation

Just finished reading "In Search of Schrödinger's Cat". I am currently trying to explain the Uncertainty principle to myself as if I was 5. Concretely, why it is not possible to measure both position and momentum with 0 error. Is it because it is not possible to be in two places at the same time? The way I understand is that trying to predict where a particle is going to be in the future is same as trying to predict where a life boat is going to be in an ocean in the future - if you zoom in enough to confidently know where the boat is, you will loose the track of the waves, and vise versa.

• There is nothing to explain. The existence of non-commuting properties is one of the defining features of wave-like objects. That is what makes a quantum object a quantum object. Jun 6, 2016 at 14:11
• You can leave this thread with one of three things: (i) an inaccurate analogy that makes you feel like you sort of get it (but don't), (ii) an abstract mathematical justification that gives you no physical insight, or (iii) abandon your notion of what a particle is and accept that you'll never really understand the nature of the world. Take your pick. Jun 6, 2016 at 14:12
• @lemon: What a particle is is well defined in physics. It's the approximation of the movements of an extended object by the trajectory of its center of mass in classical mechanics. What a particle track is, is also well defined in particle physics: it's the result of the weak interaction of a high momentum state with matter in a detector. Having said that, it's well known that most books that attempt to explain QM to layman (and to physics students) fail to mention both definitions and they end up hopelessly confusing readers between particles and quanta. Jun 6, 2016 at 14:18
• @CuriousOne When I say "abandon your notion of what a particle is", I'm not referring to our models of particles but rather the essence of particles themselves. Jun 6, 2016 at 14:28
• Related: physics.stackexchange.com/q/132111, physics.stackexchange.com/q/200326, physics.stackexchange.com/q/169730, and many more. Jun 6, 2016 at 14:32