Monthly Archives

January 2014

The Aharonov-Bohm Effect

An explanation of the A-B effect, as it became know, would be quite technical so below I give only a brief overview of the physics involved. When Bohm moved to Israel he encountered two outstanding students, Yakir Aharonov and Gideon Carmi which he then took with him to Bristol University. Aharonov for his part was interested in what is known as the Vector Potential. Bohm encouraged him and so the two began to work together. The vector potential is a way of interrelating electrical and magnetic fields. According to orthodox physics this vector potential has no real, material existence but is simply a mathematical device for linking two sets of equations. Aharonov did not agree and believed that the vector potential had an actual existence.  Working together Aharonov and Bohm proposed that the vector potential could exert an effect on an electron has it travels through a screen with two slits. This suggestion was of course rejected by main stream physics until an experimental physicist, Robert Chambers, devised an experiment that would illustrate the effect: the A-B effect. His result was at first rejected but subsequent experimentalists continued to show that this was a real effect and Aharonov and Bohm’s work was deemed worthy of a Nobel Prize. They were nominated on several occasions and I can remember Bohm being tense in the days leading up to the prize’s announcement. They never did get the prize and one explication involves an experimental physicist, Rory Siday, who had noticed a bizarre effect when working with an electron lens. Siday took his result to the great Max Born who became angry and said that no such effect existed. At the time Bohm and Aharonov did not know about this work and some speculate that the Nobel Prize was not awarded because of

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David Bohm Inner Explorer: Creativity Beyond Boundaries – Bohm, Einstein, Krishnamurti

David Bohm was an explorer in fundamental physics who felt that it had lost its way. He saw that researchers at the forefront were no longer deeply interested in creative insight into fundamental processes and structures but were satisfied merely to produce algorithms, without much concern about why these mathematical forms produced results. Bohm looked to earlier greats in physics who had gone beyond the forms and norms of the science that had preceded them and who, through revolutionary insight, had created an understanding that was profoundly new. Bohm also studied creativity itself. He came to feel that true creativity must reach beyond the boundaries of our entire framework of thinking in order to discover something not bound by that. I recall Bohm pointing out that society tends to have a sense that our universe is pretty much in principle known, in the sense that we have a well-defined concept of reality and a relatively fixed framework of thinking. For Bohm, deep creativity demands that we go beyond that definiteness and that we appreciate the universe as mysterious, as had Newton and Einstein, and as did he. As well, Krishnamurti, with whom he had for years explored the nature of mind, emphasized the necessity of “freedom from the known” in order to significantly explore and to come upon something fundamentally new.

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David Bohm Inner Explorer: Beyond Word and Concept

An explorer with many facets, David Bohm is noted as a physicist, philosopher, and developer of the dialogue process. As he communicated with ease using the concepts relevant to each area, he is often understood by those who work within these boundaries, quite intellectually, as a man of concepts, which certainly he was. Yet there is also David Bohm, the spiritual explorer. Spirituality is by its nature difficult to discuss, because it reaches beyond the manifested order, hence beyond the embrace of concepts and words. According to Bohm “spirit means that which is nonmanifest, but which moves the manifest.” In considering David Bohm as a spiritual explorer, it is important to note that he himself did not divide matter and spirit but considered the material order and the order of mind to be a unitary field, in which “mind grows out of matter and matter contains the essence of mind”, with no real separation of domains.

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David Bohm Inner Explorer: Fellow Traveller with Einstein

For David Bohm reality was subtle beyond measure and inexhaustible. This perception Bohm and Einstein held in common. For both, nature was not limited but deep beyond the grasp of our faculties of comprehension. Einstein said that he considered Bohm as his spiritual successor, and in this sense they were indeed spiritual father and son. Bohm sometimes spoke of Einstein’s view that nature in its depths is mysterious. To Einstein the mysterious is the most beautiful experience we can have. This sense of the unfathomable “stands at the cradle of true art and true science … something we cannot penetrate … only accessible to our reason in [its] most elementary forms.” To him “Nature is a magnificent structure that we can comprehend only very imperfectly,” and for him sufficient is “an inkling of the marvellous structure of reality.”

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David Bohm Inner Explorer: Mind as Process

As a boy David Bohm was physically awkward, and he often tried to compensate by planning in advance each movement. Once, in the midst of crossing a stream by a series of stepping stones, he saw that this piecemeal rational approach would surely fail and, hence, kept on crossing in one continuous movement, and in this found success. His discovery of the power of consciousness as flowing movement, rather than as incremental as when we reason and piecemeal apply knowledge, had a profound effect on him, and in later life he would relate this story. In adulthood, he took an interest in the process philosophy of Alfred North Whitehead, and, later yet, in Birkbeck College in the early 1970’s, he would often talk of consciousness operating in “undivided flowing movement.”

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A new triangle in physics

With his concept of Active Information, Bohm had introduced what could be thought of a new triad into physics in place of the old duality of Energy-Matter. In Energy-Matter duality, energy acts on matter to transform it. For example it may melt a piece of metal, or it may cause a stone to move. Now add in information to form Energy-Matter-Information. Information, as active information, observes the disposition of Matter and now acts on Energy to redirect it. This redirected Energy makes a new transformation of Matter and in turn this is observed by Information which acts back on Energy.

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