Bell on Bohm

Sheldon Goldstein

Submitted to “Quantum Nonlocality and Reality – 50 Years of Bell’s theorem”

A memorial conference for John Bell, open to the public, was held at Rutgers University around 20 years ago. I gave there a short talk on Bell’s views about David Bohm’s “hidden variables” formulation of quantum mechanics, a version of quantum mechanics often called the de Broglie-Bohm theory or Bohmian mechanics. This theory was in fact discovered by Louis de Broglie in 1927. In 1952, it was rediscovered and developed by Bohm, who was the first to appreciate its connection to the predictions of standard quantum mechanics. I did not publish the talk.

I have decided that it would be appropriate to publish a very lightly edited version of it here, in this volume devoted to the work of Bell on the foundation of quantum mechanics. One reason for doing so is that the connection between Bell and Bohm continues to be somewhat underplayed, with the strength of his advocacy of Bohmian mechanics not properly appreciated. For example, about half of the papers in Bell’s collected works on the foundations of quantum mechanics deal with Bohmian mechanics. But in his fine introduction to the revised edition of this great book (Bell, 2004), Alain Aspect mentions this theory in only a single sentence, and parenthetically at that.

Goldstein – Bell paper

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