David Bohm

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Person.png David Bohm  Rdf-entity.pngRdf-icon.png
David Bohm.jpg
Born20 December 1917
Died27 October 1992 (Age 74)
Alma materPennsylvania State College, California Institute of Technology, University of California, Berkeley
Victim ofMcCarthyism

David Joseph Bohm was an American-British scientist who has been described as one of the most significant theoretical physicists of the 20th century and who contributed unorthodox ideas to quantum theory, neuropsychology and the philosophy of mind.

He warned of the dangers of rampant reason and technology, advocating instead the need for genuine supportive dialogue, which he claimed could broaden and unify conflicting and troublesome divisions in the social world.

McCarthyism and leaving the United States

After the war, Bohm became an assistant professor at Princeton University. He also worked closely with Albert Einstein at the nearby Institute for Advanced Study. In May 1949, the House Un-American Activities Committee called upon Bohm to testify because of his previous ties to unionism and suspected communists. Bohm invoked his Fifth Amendment right to refuse to testify, and he refused to give evidence against his colleagues.

In 1950, Bohm was arrested for refusing to answer the committee's questions. He was acquitted in May 1951, but Princeton had already suspended him. After his acquittal, Bohm's colleagues sought to have him reinstated at Princeton, but Princeton President Harold W. Dodds[1] decided not to renew Bohm's contract. Although Einstein considered appointing him as his research assistant at the Institute, Oppenheimer (who had been the Institute's president since 1947) "opposed the idea and [...] advised his former student to leave the country".[2]

His request to go to the University of Manchester received Einstein's support but was unsuccessful.[3] Bohm then left for Brazil to assume a professorship of physics at the University of São Paulo, at Jayme Tiomno's invitation and on the recommendation of both Einstein and Oppenheimer.

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Related Quotation

Christopher Langan“[...] but that's the way it works, it's one giant self-reinforcing system, basically it's run by people with money and if people with money want certain questions to be answered in certain ways, then they make sure that nobody advances in academia who does not parrot the party line, and say what he is expected to say, so this kind of self reinforcement is antithetical to intellectual freedom and creativity. [...] (00:11:10)”Christopher Langan2019


  1. Russell Olwell: Physics and Politics in Cold War America: The Two Exiles of David Bohm, Working Paper Number 20. Program in Science, Technology, and Society. Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
  2. https://books.google.com/books?id=1TutRoSE2XcC&q=bohm+einstein+oppenheimer&pg=PR130, Quantum: Einstein, Bohr, and the Great Debate about the Nature of Reality, ISBN 9780393080094
  3. Albert Einstein to Patrick Blackett, 17 April 1951 (Albert Einstein archives). Cited after Olival Freire, Jr.: Science and Exile: David Bohm, the cold war, and a new interpretation of quantum mechanics, HSPS, vol. 36, Part 1, pp. 1–34, ISSN 0890-9997, 2005, see footnote 8. https://web.archive.org/web/20120326192406/http://www.controversia.fis.ufba.br/index_arquivos/Freire-Bohm-HSPS.pdf.