David Joseph Bohm (December 20, 1917 - October 27, 1992) was an American quantum physicist.
Born at Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania, he attended Pennsylvania State College, graduating in 1939 and then heading west to work with theoretical physicist Robert Oppenheimer, first at the California Institute of Technology for a year, and then at the University of California, Berkeley. Along with a few of Oppenheimer's other graduate students (Giovanni Rossi Lomanitz, Joseph Weinberg, and Max Friedman, all of whom lived in the same neighborhood), Bohm became increasingly involved not only with physics, but radical politics. Like many young idealists in the late 1930s (including Oppenheimer himself), Bohm and his colleagues were attracted to alternative models of society, and were active in organizations like the Young Communist League, the Campus Committee to Fight Conscription, and the Committee for Peace Mobilization (all would be branded Communist fronts by the FBI under J. Edgar Hoover).
During the World War II, much of Berkeley physics was mobilized in the effort to produce the first atomic bomb during the Manhattan Project. Though Oppenheimer had asked Bohm to work with him at Los Alamos, the top-secret laboratory established in 1942 to design the weapon, the head of the Manhattan Project, General Leslie Groves, would not approve his security clearance, after tip-offs about Bohm's politics (Bohm's friend, Joseph Weinberg, was also then under suspicion for espionage). Bohm remained in Berkeley, teaching physics, before completing his Ph.D. in 1943. He would later, however, work on the theoretical calculations for the Calutrons at the Y-12 facility in Oak Ridge, which were used to electromagnetically enrich uranium for use in the bomb which was dropped on Hiroshima in 1945.
After the war Bohm became assistant professor at Princeton University where he worked closely with Albert Einstein. In May 1949, at the beginning of the McCarthyism hysteria period, Bohm was called upon to testify before the House Un-American Activities Committee because of his previous ties to suspected Communists, but pleaded the Fifth amendment right to decline to testify, and refused to give evidence against his colleagues. In 1950 Bohm was charged for refusing to answer questions before the Committee and arrested. He was acquitted in May 1951 but Princeton had already suspended him and after his acquittal refused to renew his contract. Bohm's colleagues sought to have his position at Princeton reinstated, and Einstein reportedly wanted Bohm to serve as his assistant, but Bohm's contract with the university was not renewed. Then, Bohm left for Brazil to take up a Chair in Physics at the University of São Paulo, Brazil.
In 1955, he moved to Israel where he spent two years at the Technion at Haifa. Here he met his wife Saral, who was an important figure in the development of his ideas. In 1957 Bohm moved to the UK. He held a research fellowship at University of Bristol until 1961, when he was made Professor of Theoretical Physics at Birkbeck College of the University of London until his retirement in 1987.
Throughout his life, Bohm suffered from bouts of depression, which seemingly worsened with age. He underwent psychoanalysis with Patrick de Mare. In May 1991 he was admitted to the "old age psychiatry" - de Mare declared Bohm "suicidal". Bohm stayed in the hospital until the end of august 1991. He remained on "medication" (sertralin). (For details see F. David Peats's biography.)
Bohm made a number of significant contributions to physics, particularly in the area of quantum mechanics and relativity theory. Still a post-graduate at Berkeley he discovered the electron phenomenon now known as Bohm-diffusion. His first book, Quantum Theory published in 1951, was well-received by Einstein among others. However, he was unsatisified with the orthodox approach to quantum theory and began to develop his own approach (Bohm interpretation), a non-local hidden variable deterministic theory whose predictions are in perfect agreement with the quantum ones. His work and the EPR argument were the major factor motivating John Bell's inequality, whose consequences are still being investigated. In 1959, with his student Yakir Aharonov, he discovered the Aharonov-Bohm effect, showing how a vacuum could produce striking physical effects.
Bohm's scientific and philosophical views were inseparable. In 1959 he came across a book by the Indian philosopher J. Krishnamurti. He was struck with how his own ideas on quantum mechanics meshed with the philosophical ideas of Krishnamurti. Bohm's approach to philosophy and physics are expressed in his 1980 book Wholeness and the Implicate Order, and in the book Science, Order and Creativity. In his later years, he developed the technique of what is know as: Bohm Dialogue, in which equal status and "free space" were the most important prerequisites. He believed that if carried out on a sufficiently wide scale, these Dialogues could help overcome fragmentation in society.
David Bohm died in London, England October 22, 1992.
A biography on Bohm by F David Peat (http://www.fdavidpeat.com/): "Infinite Potential ~ the life and times of David Bohm", published by addison wesley, 1997
For information on his work at Berkeley and his dealings with HUAC, see Gregg Herken, Brotherhood of the Bomb: The Tangled Lives and Loyalties of Robert Oppenheimer, Ernest Lawrence, and Edward Teller, New York: Henry Holt, 2002.