Written by Benjamin SullivanDavid Bohm
was a protégée of Einstein and Oppenheimer and is largely regarded as the greatest physicist of his generation, as well as one of the most significant physicists of the 20th century.
As a visionary genius, Bohm undertook the remarkably difficult task of resolving the apparent conflict between Einstein's relativity and the prevailing interpretation of quantum physics, commonly referred to as the Copenhagen Interpretation. The primary conflict between these two theories is that Einstein's Relativity is inherently deterministic and the Copenhagen interpretation of quantum mechanics is inherently probabilistic. Very much aware of the fundamental incompatibility of the two theories, Bohm disliked the near-supernatural explanations provided for phenomenon like quantum entanglement, in which two particles will always exhibit polarized angles of momentum when measured regardless of whether they are a centimeter or a million light years apart. Traditional explanations for this quantum phenomenon suggest that two particles can immaterially communicate with one another instantaneously. This stands in direct contradiction to Einstein's well established theory that information cannot propagate at speeds faster than light.
The apparent conflict posed by the Copenhagen interpretation of quantum mechanics was by no means limited to Bohm's recognition. Indeed, some 20 years before, Albert Einstein
was likely its greatest critic. Together with Boris Podolsky and Nathan Rosen, Einstein had conceived the EPR Paradox which suggests that the wave function does not render a complete description of physical reality and is consequently inadequate. Louis de Broglie echoed this sentiment, suggesting an alternate, deterministic interpretation of quantum mechanics, dubbed 'pilot-wave.' Pilot-wave theory suggests that particles arise out of and disappear into a quantum liquid-like substance, much like a drop will arise and disappear into a body of water. The theory puts forth the idea that if the ripples created by a particle's own movement were observable, the exact path a particle takes could be accurately predicted. De Broglie further argued that the future unfolds dynamically from the past and that if the exact location of all particle states were knowable at any given moment, all subsequent future states could be predicted.
While pilot-wave may have been poised to lend untold scientific understanding to quantum phenomena, it met an abrupt end in 1932 when mathematician Jon Von Nuemann announced that had proven that the hidden variables suggested by the EPR Paradox and de Broglie's pilot-wave theory were non existent. Unfortunately, it would be decades until Irish physicist John Stuart Bell identified a number of fatal flaws with Von Nuemann's 'proof,' rendering it null and void.
In the interim, this did not appear to phase David Bohm and in 1952, he offered up an enhanced variant of pilot-wave theory, now called Broglie-Bohm theory or Bohmian mechanics. Bohm had spent half of this same year engaging in deep conversations with Einstein who had read Bohm's recently published book Quantum Theory
and praised it as being the clearest presentation of quantum theory he had ever seen. Bohm went on to prove pilot-wave was a valid model that was empirically compatible with the determinism of Einstein's Relativity. Along with his staunch supporter, John Stuart Bell, Bohm laid out a theoretical groundwork to validate the EPR Paradox.
In 1959, with the collaboration of physicist Yakir Aharonov, Bohm discovered a remarkable phenomenon that demonstrated quantum interconnectedness, in which, under certain conditions, electrons are able to 'feel' the presence of electromagnetic fields in proximity of them despite traveling in regions of space where the field strength is zero. The phenomenon, which has been confirmed numerous times through various experiments is now referred to as Aharonov-Bohm (AB) effect
In 1982, drawing on much of Bohm and Bell's work, a team of physicists lead by Alain Aspect in Paris decided to perform a series of inductive experiments to test the EPR Paradox. The results validated the paradox by patently demonstrating that quantum particles separated by great distances do indeed communicate in ways that can in no way be explained by information propagating at or below the speed of light.
During the course of his life, Bohm envisioned a unified theory in which particles are no longer viewed as the fundamental nature of reality. In Bohm's model, reality arises in a continuous field trough waves which posses distinct particle-like quanta that behave like information amplifiers. He saw the universe in terms of a vast matrix of waves and energy through which reality unfolds and enfolds. Underlying and permeating this reality, Bohm proposed an idea of G-d as the Cosmic Mind
which extends beyond our perception of physical reality, space, and time as an 'unknown and undescribable totality' that gives form to an otherwise formless Universe. Bohm resolved the otherwise bizarre, light speed violating behavior observed in quantum entanglement by suggesting that entangled particles are in fact always connected to one another and it is only our human perception that is inaccurate and interprets them as being apart. If you imagine a dream in which you travel a great distance, the concept is the same. Although our perception may be that we have gone somewhere, in reality, we have never moved from the initial point of our own consciousness or minds.
In Bohm's world view, the totality of all seemingly individual things that exist is a subsystem of one undivided wholeness of G-d, yet he certainly considered some form of individuality and personal responsibility to work in tandem within this model: