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David Bohm

Lawrence Bush
October 26, 2017

David Bohm, a radical physicist and a political radical, died on this date in London in 1992. Bohm was invited by J. Robert Oppenheimer to work on the Manhattan Project but could not obtain security clearance because of his leftwing involvements. He was suspended from his teaching position at Princeton, despite Albert Einstein’s protestations, when the House Committee on Un-American Activities arrested him for refusing to testify; though acquitted, he emigrated from the U.S. Bohm believed that the seeming randomness of quantum events could be explained by the existence of hidden variables (which made him, like Einstein, a quantum skeptic). “His objections to the foundations of quantum mechanics,” wrote Omni magazine in 1987, “have gradually coalesced into an extension of the theory so sweeping that it amounts to a new view of reality. Believing that the nature of things is not reducible to fragments or particles, he argues for a holistic view of the universe. He demands that we learn to regard matter and life as a whole, coherent domain” — including the human brain, which, Bohm theorized, works in a manner similar to a hologram.

“When I was a boy, a certain prayer we said every day in Hebrew contained the words to love God with all your heart all your soul, and all your mind. . . . this notion of wholeness — not necessarily directed toward God but as a way of living — had a tremendous impact on me. I also felt a sense of nature being whole very early. I felt internally related to trees, mountains, and stars in a way I wasn’t to all the chaos of the cities.” —David Bohm

​​​​Lawrence Bush edited Jewish Currents from 2003 until 2018. He is the author of Bessie: A Novel of Love and Revolution and Waiting for God: The Spiritual Explorations of a Reluctant Atheist, among other books. His new volume of illustrated Torah commentaries, American Torah Toons 2, is scheduled for publication this year.