A city located in southern Germany, Stuttgart is the capital of the state of Baden-Württemberg with a population of approximately 590,000. It happens to be the sixth largest city in Germany, as well as the home of Porsche (motor enthusiasts will notice that the city name appears in the centre of the badge).

The region also currently has Germany’s highest density of scientific, academic and research organisations, and tops the national league for patent applications. Woo! Patents! Everybody say “Gooooooo Patents!” Pom-poms etcetera.

Another interesting bit of trivia for bored readers: Stuttgart also has two Max-Planck Institutes. Fancy that. Now, as you already know, Max Planck is considered to be the founder of quantum theory.

His most famous discovery was probably the Planck length – a very small length which he found when he first looked between his legs.

The Planck length is the unit of length in the system of units known as Planck units. (Gee, way to explain a complex concept Max.) The Planck length is deemed “natural” because it can be defined from three fundamental physical constants: the speed of light, Planck’s constant, and the gravitational constant. Easy.

Thus, in metric units, the Planck length is approximately 10-35 meters (indexed). The estimated radius of the observable Universe is therefore 1.2 × 10 to the power of 62 Planck lengths. (That’s alot, in case you were wondering.) The ‘Planck mass’ is roughly the mass of a black hole with a Schwarzschild radius equal to its Compton wavelength (I hear Schwarzschild also makes excellent shampoo). The radius of such a black hole would be, roughly, the Planck length.

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Actually, it is fascinating, but not if it’s in Greek. Compare. Here is the significance of the theory in Greek:

The following thought experiment illuminates the above fact. The task is to measure an object’s position by bouncing electromagnetic radiation, namely photons, off it. The shorter the wavelength of the photons, and hence the higher their energy, the more accurate the measurement. If the photons are sufficiently energetic to make possible a measurement more precise than a Planck length, their collision with the object would, in principle, create a minuscule black hole. This black hole would “swallow” the photon and thereby make it impossible to obtain a measurement. A simple calculation using dimensional analysis suggests that this problem arises if we attempt to measure an object’s position with a precision of less than a Planck length.

This thought experiment draws on both general relativity and the Heisenberg uncertainty principle of quantum mechanics. These two theories combined imply that it is impossible to measure position to a precision less than the Planck length. Hence in any theory of quantum gravity combining general relativity and quantum mechanics, traditional notions of space and time will break down at distances shorter than the Planck length or times shorter than the Planck time.

Now, here it is again in layman’s English:

Say you want to measure how far it is from your place to your mate’s place, right? And you want to know exactly, not roundabout, but a precise measurement, so you know if you have time to shag his ex-girlfriend before you head over. (30 micro-seconds could be the difference.) So you pull out your little pocket electromagnetic ray gun and fire off a few rounds of light beams at your mate. Now your mate is probably a) dead; b) a pile of red embers or c) all of the above. But say your ray gun was hell powerful, and the little light beams were so effective that when you fired them off, they opened up a little blackhole sucky-vortex thing, which like gobbles up your mate (see a) above). According Max, it would probably swallow up your lightbeam too, and then you’d have no idea how far away your mate’s place was, no idea how long it would therefore take to get there, and you’d be up for murder/global apocalypse. In short: don’t use your ray gun to measure distance, use a good ole fashioned measuring wheel and count the clicks, you moron.

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