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Dr Roderich Tumulka
researcher in physics at the Eberhard Karls University of Tübingen

David Bohm’s explanation of quantum mechanics in 1952.

I am a researcher in quantum mechanics, the part of theoretical physics concerned with the behaviour of electrons inside atoms and the like. Since the 1920s, formulas have been known for calculating, for every conceivable experiment of quantum mechanics, the possible outcomes that the observer will see, and their probabilities.

But the first reasonable explanation of how the processes that lead to these outcomes and these probabilities work was proposed by Bohm. (Though similar ideas had already been developed by Louis de Broglie in 1927.) This explanation, a theory now called Bohmian mechanics, resolves the paradoxes that have puzzled generations of physicists. What makes this breakthrough even more impressive is the fact that in the 1930s, the leading physicists Niels Bohr and Werner Heisenberg declared that the paradoxes could not be resolved, that it is impossible to find any explanation of quantum phenomena that the human mind can understand, indeed that quantum mechanics lies outside ordinary logic. Even today, the physics community has not fully appreciated, I would say, the value of Bohm’s explanation.

Roderich Tumulka is researcher in physics at the Mathematics Institute, Eberhard Karls University of Tübingen.