David Bohm

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David Bohm

David Joseph Bohm [ ˈdeɪvɪd ˈdʒoʊzɪf ˈboʊm ] (born December 20, 1917 in Wilkes-Barre , Pennsylvania , † October 27, 1992 in London ) was an American quantum physicist and philosopher.

Bohm has made a number of significant contributions to physics, particularly in the field of many-body theory and the fundamentals of quantum mechanics . Bohm is the founder of Bohm's mechanics , an alternative interpretation of quantum mechanics .


Bohm attended Pennsylvania State College and studied from 1939 with Robert Oppenheimer at the California Institute of Technology and then at the University of California, Berkeley , where he - like other students of Oppenheimer - was involved in pacifist and communist student organizations in the late 1930s. That is why Bohm was not directly involved in the Manhattan Project at first , and because of this he ran into considerable problems at the beginning of the McCarthy era . In 1943 David Bohm received his doctorate in Berkeley and then worked theoretically on electromagnetic uranium enrichment at the Oak Ridge National Laboratory in Oak Ridge .

After World War II , Bohm was an assistant professor at Princeton University . Here he also worked with Albert Einstein . When Bohm refused in 1949 to testify before the Committee on Un-American Activities , the HUAC, whether he or one of his colleagues - especially Robert Oppenheimer - sympathized with communism, he was arrested in 1950 and subsequently dismissed from Princeton University (despite one Acquittal 1951). Although Bohm had the intercession of Einstein and others, he could not find a job in the United States. Bohm emigrated to Brazil, where he became a professor at the University of São Paulo . From 1955 he was at the Technion in Haifa and from 1957 Research Fellow at the University of Bristol . In 1961 he became a professor at Birkbeck College of the University of London , where he remained until his retirement in 1987th

Physical work

In the 1950s Bohm dealt with many-particle theory, where he did important pioneering work (Bohm diffusion in plasma physics and others).

Another focus concerns the basics and the interpretation of quantum mechanics. In 1951, Bohm's textbook on quantum theory appeared, in which he still advocated the Copenhagen interpretation . In a 1992 interview, he said that he had begun to question this interpretation in the late 1940s. As an alternative to this, in the 1950s he developed Bohmian mechanics , a nonlinear deterministic theory with hidden variables and the assumption of a pilot wave, already represented by de Broglie in an equivalent form . Since then he has also dealt with the philosophical implications of quantum mechanics , in particular the paradox of non-locality .

With his doctoral student Yakir Aharonov he predicted a quantum effect in 1959, which was experimentally confirmed the following year and which was named after them the Aharonov-Bohm effect . Only after their publication did they learn that Werner Ehrenberg and Raymond E. Siday had predicted the effect as early as 1949, and Walter Franz apparently as early as 1939.

Philosophical work

Closely connected to Bohm's work on the interpretation of quantum mechanics were his philosophical interests. Together with Martin Buber , Bohm developed the dialogue method: It tries to contrast the scientific discourse (with the aim of thematic convergence ) with a creative, understanding-based alternative (with the aim of thematic divergence).

In this context, his work is Wholeness and the implicate order ( the implicate order to provide). There an attempt is made to counter the problems that quantum physics raises with definitions of a new worldview. The characteristics are:

  • Holism,
  • Litigation and
  • Non-divisibility.

In his work, Bohm explicitly refers to the possibility of understanding the quantum hypothesis as an indication of a new order. Bohm compares this implicit order with a hologram in which all the overall aspects are, as it were, “folded in” in all individual parts. Bohm calls it holo-movement .

Until his death, Bohm did not believe that science would be able to come to an end in the search for knowledge. He assumed that science would develop in completely unexpected directions and that mathematics was not the only way to grasp reality. He hoped that future scientists would find new sources of metaphors and analogies in modeling nature instead of relying so much on mathematics. He expected that science and art would one day merge; the separation of art and science is only a temporary one.

Bohm was a contemporary and admirer of Jiddu Krishnamurti and co-founded the Brockwood Park Krishnamurti school in England. Numerous writings have emerged from this relationship and discussion between the physicist and the philosopher. Krishnamurti claimed that Bohm understood his work.

The Bohm Dialogue (also known as the Bohmian Dialogue or "Dialogue in the Spirit of David Bohms") is a free-flowing group conversation that seeks to use Bohm's understanding of the way thoughts relate to universal reality To examine more effectively crises in society and beyond the entirety of human nature and consciousness.


Einstein said of Bohm that he was the only one who could get beyond quantum mechanics. In a letter of May 12, 1952 to Max Born , Einstein can also judge quite differently: 'Did you see that Bohm (like de Broglie 25 years ago, incidentally ) believes that he can reinterpret quantum theory in a deterministic way? The way seems too cheap to me. But of course you can judge that better. '

For some time Bohm's books achieved cult status in some circles; he himself became an idol for people who wanted to achieve mystical enlightenment through physics. Representations of Bohm's positions can be found e.g. B. with John Gribbin and John Horgan . Stefan Bauberger provides a summary of the philosophical implications .

Hans-Dieter Mutschler describes Bohm as a New Age physicist with regard to his considerations on the “implicit order” . These considerations, which Rüdiger Vaas calls "speculations bordering on the esoteric", were "misinterpreted" for him. They found favor with the New Age movement and esotericism .

See also


  • Quantum Theory , New York, Prentice Hall 1951, Dover 1989
  • Special Theory of Relativity , Addison-Wesley 1989
  • Causality and Chance in Modern Physics , Van Nostrand 1957
  • Wholeness and the Implicate Order , Routledge, London 1980, ISBN 0-415-28978-5 .
  • The implicit order. Basics of a dynamic holism , Goldmann, Munich 1987, ISBN 3-442-14036-6 .
  • Edited with Donald Factor: The hidden order of life , Aquamarin Verlag, Grafing 1988, ISBN 3-922936-66-0 .
  • with Francis David Peat : The New World View. Natural science, order and creativity , Goldmann, Munich 1990, ISBN 3-442-11489-6 .
  • On Dialogue. Edited by Lee Nichol. Routledge, London and New York 1996
    • German edition: The dialogue. The open conversation at the end of the discussion. Translated from the English by Anke Grube. Edited by Lee Nichol. Klett-Cotta, Stuttgart 1998, ISBN 3-608-91857-4 .
  • with Krishnamurti : The Ending of Time , Victor Gollancz 1985
  • with Basil Hiley : The undivided universe: an ontological interpretation of quantum mechanics , Routledge 1993


  • F. David Peat: Infinite Potential. The Life and Times of David Bohm , Addison-Wesley 1997
  • Christian Forstner: Quantum Mechanics in the Cold War. David Bohm and Richard Feynman , GNT-Verlag, Diepholz, Stuttgart, Berlin, 2007, ISBN 978-3-928186-81-0 .
  • Paul CW Davies and JR Brown (Eds.): The spirit in the atom . Insel, Frankfurt am Main 1994, ISBN 3-458-33199-9 .
  • John Gribbin : Schrödinger's Kitten and the Search for Reality . Fischer, Frankfurt am Main 1998, ISBN 3-596-14151-6 .
  • Linus Hauser : Critique of the neo-mythical reason, Vol. 3. The fictions of science on the way into the 21st century. Paderborn 2016. pp. 110–125.
  • John Horgan : At the Frontiers of Knowledge . Fischer, Frankfurt am Main 2000, ISBN 3-596-14364-0 . (Therein the chapter David Bohm's implicit order , pp. 141–149. Horgan interviewed Bohm in August 1992, a few months before his death; see p. 430 fn. 24.)
  • Martina Hartkemeyer, Johannes Hartkemeyer, Lynn Freeman Dhority: Thinking Together - The Secret of Dialogue . Klett-Cotta, Stuttgart 2001, ISBN 3-608-91943-0 .
  • Stefan Bauberger: What is the world? On the philosophical interpretation of physics. 2nd Edition. Kohlhammer, Stuttgart 2005, ISBN 3-17-018982-4 .

Individual evidence

  1. John Horgan: At the Frontiers of Knowledge. P. 142 f.
  2. a b John Horgan: At the limits of knowledge
  3. a b Rüdiger Vaas: Three fixed rope routes to the quantum Olympus . Bild der Wissenschaft 8/2004, p. 46 ff. ( Online )
  4. Hiley, BJ (2013): The Early History of the Aharonov-Bohm Effect . arxiv : 1304.4736v1 .
  5. John Horgan: At the Frontiers of Knowledge. P. 147.
  6. The dialogue.
  7. Max Born; Albert Einstein: Correspondence 1916 - 1955. Commented by Max Born (1969). Rowohlt, Reinbek bei Hamburg 1972. p. 194.
  8. John Horgan: At the Frontiers of Knowledge. P. 141f.
  9. Stefan Bauberger: What is the world?
  10. ^ Hans-Dieter Mutschler: Physics, Religion, New Age. Echter Verlag, Würzburg 1990, pp. 152-182.

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