David Bohm

  • Year:

    1991

  • Subject:

    Physics

  • Award:

    Cresson

  • Citation:

    For elevated electromagnetic potentials to status of physical observables.

David Bohm was born in 1917, in Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania. He attended Pennsylvania State University, where he graduated with a B.S. in 1939, and then began graduate work in physics at the California Institute of Technology. Later he transferred to the University of California at Berkeley, in order to work with J. Robert Oppenheimer. He completed his doctorate in physics there in 1943.

While still a graduate student, Bohm did groundbreaking work on plasmas at the Lawrence Berkeley Radiation Laboratory. He discovered that, in plasma (a high temperature gas), electrons that have been stripped away from atoms do not behave as separate individual particles but rather as part of a larger, organized whole. Dr. Bohm found that these collective movements, now called Bohm-diffusion, gave him the impression that the sea of electrons was somehow "alive." This was Dr. Bohm's first important discovery in physics, and it turns out to be a harbinger of the themes of wholeness and interconnectedness that characterized his work.

In 1949, Dr. Bohm was called before the McCarthy Committee on Un-American Activities, and he refused to testify against his colleagues. He lost his position at Princeton University, and left the country. Dr. Bohm took up a position at the University of Sao Paulo and remained there until 1955. After leaving Brazil, he taught at Technion in Haifa, Israel, before moving to Bristol, England, where he and Yakir Aharonov made another original contribution to quantum physics, the Aharonov-Bohm effect. In 1961, Bohm took a professorship at the Birkbeck College in London, where he continued in his research throughout the rest of his life.

Information as of 1991