In 1986, the physicist Fritz Haake identified a significant area of research in the area of quantum mechanics to investigate a question of ‘whether quantum chaos can be more than a mere transientmimicry of classical chaos’ (Haake et al. 1987).

The concept persisted in trying to detect whether there was some unique spatial experiment that could deal with this problem. Before the article entitled ‘Quantum Signatures of Chaos in a Kicked Top’ in 2009, there was no real way of knowing whether chaos could exist in a quantum world

of subatomic particles as the momentum or position cannot be precisely known, then the unique conditions of classical chaos would not be able to translate to the quantum world.

For example, when drops of ink are added to water the ink bifurcates and the particles are characterized

by complex, aperiodic trajectories that diverge exponentially as a function of initial separation. ‘This description of states and time evolution is fundamentally incompatible with quantum mechanics, where conjugate observables such as position and momentum cannot take on well defined values at the same time’ (Chaudhury et al. 2009).

Scientists have revisited the conundrum by asking the question not only whether quantum chaos could mimic chaos but also whether chaos assists the quantum world. If you think of the spin of an electron as being analogous to a microscopic spinning top that spins erratically as it loses momentum, it is in these erratic areas that we find quantum chaos taking place.

This implies that the nature of matter not only has to contend with its own classical form of chaos but also at its core it has a unique form, quantum chaos. Two chaoses existing simultaneously in the same space, a complex chaos of chaos, a chaos pregnant with chaos – with Heisenberg policing the space between; resembling Heimdall, who protected the fabled rainbow bridge between the human world and Asgard, prohibiting classical chaos from entering to contaminate the quantum world. Chaos affecting chaos, a tautology of chaos but the similarities, are an illusion of cultural transference where everything appears to be the same but belongs to different worlds both unique and polluted by metaphorical analogies.

Chaudhury, S., Smith, A., Anderson, B. E., Ghose, S. and Jessen, P. S. (2009),‘Quantum signatures of chaos in a kicked top’, Nature, 461:7265, pp. 768–71.

Haake, F., Kuś, M. and Scharf, R. (1987),‘Classical and quantum chaos for a kicked top’, Zeitschrift für Physik B Condensed Matter, 65:3, pp. 381–95.