APS News

Creating Art from Classical and Quantum Chaos

Eric Heller stands beside one of his creations at APS Headquarters. (Photo by Barrie Ripin)
Eric Heller stands beside one of his creations at APS Headquarters. (Photo by Barrie Ripin)

A series of prints depicting images derived from classical and quantum chaos is currently on exhibit in the cafeteria at the American Center for Physics in College Park, MD. Created by Eric Heller, a physicist at Harvard university, the exhibit was originally displayed as part of the APS Centennial meeting's Festival of Physics in March in Atlanta, GA. The prints were produced on an Epson 3000 inkjet printer from computer data generated in Fortran, Matlab and Mathematica.

Heller's interest in the field of chaos began with his investigation of standing quantum waves in a stadium shaped box, specifically the periodic orbits generated by a classical particle bouncing around the box. This "stadium billiard table" is shown on page 1. The image Heller is standing beside in the photo above depicts a Westervelt resonator, in which a plane wave impinges from below on a wall with a small slit. Beyond the wall is a circular mirror which causes narrow resonances to form at certain energies. Because the hole in this system is slightly off center, this resonance wavefunction has an asymmetrical shape.


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Editor: Barrett H. Ripin
Associate Editor: Jennifer Ouellette