David Bohm is an American born theoretical physicist who made great contributions to science in his lifetime, especially in the areas of quantum theory, neuropsychology and philosophy. After graduating high school, he went on to study science in college and later filled professorships at a few universities and has written several books on quantum physics and other related sciences. Bohm’s research, over the years has become of interest to the American government. His research was instrumental in both the Manhattan Project and the Hiroshima bomb incident. Despite his significant contribution in the development of nuclear weapons for the country, this eminent scientist had to face imprisonment because of his suspected ties with the Communists. Though he was released, the incident proved to be a hindrance in his academic career as the Princeton University denied to reappoint him as a professor. This forced Bohm to leave the US and he settled in Brazil. While some of his contributions are quite controversial, his earliest work on the ‘implicate and explicate order’ has been used as the template by which much of physics and science is judged. The ideas that he has expressed over the years have opened the line of thought for many others. David Bohm was truly a pioneer of the mind and human reality
Childhood & Early Life
David Joseph Baum was born on December 20, 1917 in Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania. He, and his younger brother Robert, were raised mainly by their father, Samuel Bohm, a Hungarian Jewish immigrant, who owned a furniture store. Bohm’s mother, Frieda (Popky) Bohm, was a Lithuanian-Jewish woman who suffered from mental instabilities.
As a boy, Bohm found it difficult to fit in with his peers. The struggles at home, his mother’s growing mental instability, and his father’s preoccupation with business all contributed to his own insecurities.
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David Bohm’s scientific career really began while he was a graduate student at ‘California Institute of Technology’, more popularly referred to as Caltech, and later at the ‘University of California’ at Berkley.
In 1943, he was awarded his PhD in physics while working with the ‘Manhattan Project’, despite not having security clearance to his own research, due to the unusual circumstances and obvious considerable value of the research work.
In 1946, he was hired as an Assistant Professor at ‘Princeton University’ where he worked very closely with Albert Einstein.
In 1949, he was questioned, and arrested two years later, because of Marxist views he’d held during his early college years. He was acquitted the same year but no longer had a position at Princeton.
Bohm took held the position of Professor of Physics at the ‘University of São Paulo’ in Brazil from 1951, the same year he published his first book.
While there, the majority of his work centered around causal theory, the subject of his 1952 publications, which many in the fields of science objected to, defending the Copenhagen interpretation of quantum mechanics to be the single possible perspective on the subject.
In 1955, David became a research fellow at ‘Technion’ at Haifa in Israel. During his two years there, he met and married his wife.
In 1957, after relocating to the United Kingdom and taking a research fellowship at the ‘University of Bristol’, Bohm and his former student, Yakir Aharonov, made a grand discovery regarding the behavior of electrons in relation to magnetic fields.
Bohm’s final move came in 1961 when he was made Professor of Theoretical Physics at ‘Birkbeck College’, ‘University of London’.
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The same year he met Jiddu Krishnamurti, an Eastern religious teacher whose book Bohm had previously read which marked the beginning of a twenty-five year long friendship. The two men then had a series of conversations which Bohm published in The Ending of Time in 1985.
In 1987, David Bohm retired from ‘Birkbeck College’, after publishing three more books. He continued to research and write even after his retirement. Several of his works were not published until after his death.
In 1951, David published his first of many books, Quantum Theory, which has since been considered one of the leading authoritative texts on the subject of quantum physics and is a regular part of many post-graduate programs.
In 1957, Bohm and his student cum colleague, Yakir Aharonov, discovered what was coined the Aharonov-Bohm Effect. The basic idea of displayed that the seemingly haphazard movement of electrons concealed an order underlying apparent chaos.
However, his most controversial theory is what Bohm called the ‘Implicate Order’. This theory proposes that matter and life exist as one whole, coherent domain. He believed that the nature of reality couldn't be reduced to segments. That we, through our own thoughts, create the separateness that exists between all things.
Awards & Achievements
In 1990, just two years before his death, David Bohm was elected as a Fellow of the Royal Society.
Personal Life & Legacy
David Bohm was not a charismatic man and he kept his circle of friends quite small and intimate. He had only a few close friends, including a few mentors and colleagues such as Robert Oppenheimer, Albert Einstein, Yakir Aharonov and Jiddu Krishnamurti and Mort Weiss, whom he had met in his teen years and remained friends with throughout his life.
Bohm died of a heart attack on a taxi ride home in Hendon, on October 27, 1992.
David Bohm was said to have had a tendency to believe in the paranormal and, according to friends, often had to be dissuaded from buying into some ne’er-do-wells schemes.