Shock waves dominate in a wide variety of fields in physics dealing with nonlinear phenomena, nevertheless the description of their evolution is not resolved for the entire dynamics. Here we propose an analytical method based on Gamow vectors, which belong to irreversible quantum mechanics. We theoretically and experimentally show the appearance of these decaying states during shock evolution allowing to describe the whole wave propagation. These results open new ways to the control of extreme nonlinear regimes such as supercontinuum generation or in the analogies of fundamental physical theories.

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