I was reading an article on human hearing tests to question Fourier's uncertainty principle. The article states that according to these tests, physicists have found that humans can discriminate the frequency of a sound (relative to the pitch of a note) and tempo (whether a note comes before or after another note) more than 10 times better than the limit imposed by the Fourier uncertainty principle. How is it possible to have determination such a thing, to be able to question a fundamental principle, through the use of psychoacoustics?

The article: Hearing experiment

1 Answer 1


The uncertainty principle is a mathematical limit, not a physical one. If humans perform "better" in experiments than predicted, it is because the tests do not reflect the underlying mathematic conditions and confine the signals to a subset reflecting the "time/frequency" concept humans employ in musical analysis better than the basis of the mathematical theory.

It's like checking color discrimination by showing images of black and white faces: more cues than just the one purported to be tested factor into the result.

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