Don’t read it Bohm

By David Peat February 18, 2014

One of Bohm’s earliest contributions when a member of Oppenheimer’s group was a theoretical investigation of proton-deuteron scattering. Bohm completed his research, wrote up his findings and gave a seminar to Oppenheimer’s group. This was also the period in which the Manhattan Project was starting with Oppenheimer as director and most of his group were members of the project.

Bohm was not allowed to join, moreover he was forbidden to even read his own report on proton-deuteron scattering. Why was there such a bizarre decision that a scientist could not read his own work?

Bohm’s father, Shmuel Dum, was born in the town of Munkacs which lay on the border of Czechoslovakia and Hungary. His parents died and Shmuel was brought up by Jewish families in the town who thought that the boy’s future lay in the New World. And so Shmuel set sail for America and landed at Ellis Island. At Ellis Island the authorities told him that Dum was not a good name to use in the US and so he chose the name of Bohm.

By the time of the Manhattan Project Munkacs was now in an area occupied by the Nazis and David Bohm was seen as someone compromised because he had relatives in Nazi occupied territory. As a result he was not given security clearance and could not therefore join the Manhattan project or read his own report on proton-deuteron scattering.