How does physics break down when you go smaller than plank’s length? Why cant you just go like half a plan’s length or a quarter of plank’s length?

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How does physics break down when you go smaller than plank’s length? Why cant you just go like half a plan’s length or a quarter of plank’s length?

In: Physics
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The term “physics breaks down” means that our understanding doesn’t extend to that realm. That doesn’t mean that reality “breaks down” and nothing happens at that scale. It is our (human) knowledge, theory and equations predicting what happens that don’t work any more.

So there isn’t any meaning to say “half of that” because “that” is as small as we understand today. If we want to go smaller, we need new theories and knowledge. We haven’t discovered that knowledge yet, so there might still be more work for humans to expand their knowledge.

I’ll offer something slightly different than the other answers. The truth is, when we say “physics breaks down” it’s just a more exciting way of saying “we can’t see what happens, so who knows if things work the same.” The Planck length is just the smallest theoretically observable distance, even with perfect microscopes we would never be able to see things smaller than the planck length.

Anything that happens that is smaller than that? We’ll never be able to see it. It’s entirely possible that some fundamental laws don’t hold at that scale but we’ll never know.

It’s not physics that breaks, it’s our ability to see what’s happening that breaks. To see smaller and smaller events, we need to use higher and higher energy particles since it’s impossible to see something smaller than the wavelength. A photon energetic enough to “see” a Planck length has so much mass (remember that E=mc^(2) goes both ways) that it would form a Planck length sized black hole, and by definition we can’t see what happens in a black hole.

Imagine a primitive computer screen made of low-resolution pixels. You can’t move Mario half a pixel, because the screen can’t represent that.

The real world might be a bit like that. Or it might not. It’s kind of hard to say when things are that small.

But in general, the sub-atomic world is more ‘chunky’ than ‘smooth’. For example, energy likes to travel in the form of photons. You can’t just cut a photon into smaller photons with less energy; they don’t break down like that.

(I’m not a physicist. Can you tell?)