David Bohm: The Physicist Who Developed The Bohm Interpretation of Quantum Mechanics and Contributed to the Development of Plasma Physics

The world of quantum mechanics and plasma physics have vastly expanded since the days of Albert Einstein’s Theory of Relativity. One notable figure of the era is David Bohm, the physicist who developed the Bohm interpretation of quantum mechanics and contributed to the development of plasma physics. As one of the most prominent and well-known physicists of the 20th century, let’s explore the life and works of this brilliant scientific mind.

Early Life and Education of David Bohm

David Bohm was born on December 20, 1917 in Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania. During his childhood, Bohm was an avid reader and thinker, which began to translate into his scientific interests. Bohm attended public high school classes and studied mathematics, physics, and chemistry.

In 1937, Bohm enrolled in Pennsylvania State College – now Pennsylvania State University – and in the same year, he was awarded the Hooper Memorial Prize for Physics. In 1941, he graduated with a Bachelor’s of Science in chemistry, then later earned his Master’s of Science in mathematical physics and his PhD in theoretical physics.

Career of David Bohm

In 1945-1949, Bohm worked at the Princeton Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton, New Jersey. He was involved in a select few projects, such as the development of a thermal diffusion pump, an atomic heat exchange device, and a radiofrequency amplifier for use with plasmas.

In 1949-1951, Bohm worked at the University of Wisconsin-Madison at the Plasma Physics Laboratory. Here, he co-authored the book, “The Theory of Electromagnetic Waves,” with fellow scientists Max Born and John Bell, which was the first text devoted to dispersion theory.

Bohm went on to teach at many notable universities and institutions, such as Princeton, the Selwyn College of Cambridge and Birbeck College in London. While at Princeton, Bohm sought to create a unified field theory – connecting the four fundamental forces of nature. Later in his career, he worked at the Institute of Advanced Studies in Brazil, where he developed his celebrated quantum field theory.

The Bohm Interpretation of Quantum Mechanics

David Bohm’s major contribution to physics was the Bohm interpretation of quantum mechanics. He postulated that a quantum system follows a different kind of causal flow with a pilot wave and a set of beables. His interpretation gives rise to The Aharonov–Bohm effect which states that, even though a strong electric or magnetic field can be confined to a small region of space, its effects can still be observed at a greater distance. His ideas are still studied by quantum physicists and are considered to be a valid interpretation of quantum mechanics.

Bohm also proposed an ontological interpretation of quantum theory and a quantum ordering principle. He theorized that the behavior of particles are related to their chosen paths and those paths can be predicted only by considering the idea of pilot-wave guidance. He suggested that the pilot wave contains information about both the position and momentum of the particle which guides its movement.

Contributions to Plasma Physics

In 1951-1952, Bohm worked in the Plasma Physics Laboratory at the University of California, Los Angeles. During this time, he wrote a book titled “The Quantum Theory of Motion” and developed a unique method for studying plasma behavior. He proposed a theory of plasmas, which assumed that the plasma is made up of randomly moving particles. Bohm argued that this would allow for a better understanding of plasma dynamics. In 1952-1953, he worked as a professor of theoretical physics at Princeton.

Legacy of David Bohm

David Bohm died in 1992. His theories, contributions, and achievements to the fields of quantum mechanics and plasma physics continue to influence scientific research today. He received many awards and honors for his writings, discoveries, and contributions to his fields.

David Bohm was a revolutionary thinker who changed the face of science and physics. He developed the Bohm interpretation of quantum mechanics, a valid interpretation of the particle behavior that continues to be studied by modern physicists. He also contributed greatly to plasma physics, writing a book and developing a theory on its behavior. The legacy of David Bohm will continue to inspire future generations of physicists in the same way he inspired generations from his own era.