why do atoms change when we observe them?


why do atoms change when we observe them?

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“To be observed”, in the quantum-mechanical sense, means “to interact with”. It has nothing to do with whether a human looks at the object, if that’s what you mean.

In order to “look” at something you have to light it somehow. Lighting it up, however you do it, adds energy to the system. So, the question becomes, how much of what you are observing is what the atom is doing and how much because of the added energy it takes to observe it? Unless you can account for this , you can never know what the particle does when that added energy is not there.

You’re going to get a bunch of people telling you that the act of observation (measurement) disturbs them. This is often true, but the “observer effect” is NOT the only reason.

I advise you to learn about the [Heisenberg Uncertainty Principle](https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Uncertainty_principle). This describes that there are attributes that *can’t* be simultaneously known. According to current quantum theory, it simply is not possible. For example, if you pin down the position of a particle you cannot know its momentum, and vice versa.

This is due to the fact that when we think of particles, we tend to visualize them as tiny little spheres. But they aren’t. They are better thought of as matter waves, and waves don’t have distinct attributes in the same way that tiny little spheres would. There are pairs of attributes that are linked in such a way that you can’t say what both of them are with ultimate precision.

Once you think you kind of, sort of, maybe understand that, read about the [Double-Slit Experiment](https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Double-slit_experiment). Once you understand the implications of that one, you are going to be baffled. Because it baffles everyone, more or less.