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Niels Bohr, Danish physicist, contributed to architecture of an Atom

Photograph showing the head and shoulders of a man in a suit and tie

Niels Bohr (photo image from 1922)


In 1922, Niels Bohr, the Danish physicist, made foundational contributions to the structure of an atom, the smallest stable unit, of a physical substance. He won a Nobel Prize for developing the ‘Bohr model of atom’ in which he proposed that energy levels of electrons are discrete and electrons revolve in stable orbits around the nucleus of an atom.

Today we know that atoms can be smashed and further divided into smaller parts like quarks, gluons, leptons and the so called (fabled) ‘god’ particle, as stated in Higgs boson theory.

Early physicists defined ‘atom’ as the smallest indivisible element of any substance which retains the characteristics of the original substance.

By dividing and dissecting an atom further, the basic nature of the atomic substance is compromised and probably totally lost! The Hydrogen atom (for example,) may not remain stable if divided further into its subatomic parts or component pieces.

After a few experiments in a CERN reactor, scientists have learned that once an atom of Hydrogen (for example,) is smashed… it is not feasible (at least for now,) to regain the basic structure of Hydrogen, by mixing up in some way, the smashed Hydrogen subatomic particles (quarks, gluons, leptons) etc.

It is like the child in us wondering if he/she can get back the milk, in its original structure and taste, after churning it to make a ‘butter ball’ floating on the separated ‘buttermilk’. All attempts to ‘re-mix’ the ‘butter ball’ with the separated ‘buttermilk’ can give us, at best, a good ‘lassy’ but not the original milk, Right!?

Same is what happens when you smash an atom into quarks, gluons, leptons and the so called ‘god’ particles as stated in Higgs boson model of the atom. 

Niels Bohr also opined that electrons can jump from one ‘energy level’ (or orbit) to another energy level and yet keep the structure of the atom stable. Today, the ‘Niels Bohr model’ of the structure of an atom has been sub-planted by other models; however, the underlying principles of what Bohr proposed in 1922, still remain valid; that is why his original theory won the Nobel prize.  

One wonders how Niels Bohr, as early as 1922, gained such an understanding of the basic atomic structure! 



While it is a fact that ancient philosophical thoughts on ‘anu’ (Sanskrit name for atom,) could well be the forerunner of modern quantum theory(s) let us try to figure out what Niels Bohr thought about ‘anu’, which was also defined by spiritual thinkers of India.

Today, we recognize two western physicists who are considered to be the founders of the ‘Quantum Theory’, also known as the theory of ‘smallest matter and energy hidden within a substance that has some mass’.  These western physicists are Bohr and Schrödinger. Both of them learned a lot about the structure of an atom from eastern philosophers, according to their own public disclosures.

Niels Bohr, the Danish physicist, published his Quantum theory way before Schrodinger, an Austrian-Irish physicist, who is more famous for his wave theory of ‘quanta’ (usually defined as a discrete quantity of energy which is proportional in magnitude to the frequency of the radiation it represents.)

Many of us have heard of the following famous quote from Adi S(h)ankara [S(h)ankara Bhagavadpada,] founder of the S(h)ringeri matha in Karnataka. 

“Tat Tvam Asi, (translated into English as, THAT YOU ARE). ” This in essence sums up the seers understanding that YOU (Tvam in Sanskrit) is (are) part of the Universe (Tat in Sanskrit,) breathing-in and breathing-out for eternity.

Coming to the ‘Quantum Theory’ of Niels Bohr, we can say that the Danish physicist got the ball rolling around 1900 AD by explaining why every atom in us can be thought of as the smallest of its kind, emitting and absorbing electromagnetic radiation at certain frequencies for its own survival, by linking up with other atoms in Universe around us that keep our Universe alive!

Quantum theory will not look ridiculous to people who have read Vedantic thoughts proclaimed by seers such as S(h)ankara Bhagavadpada. 

While Niels Bohr was working on his Quantum theory, we learn that he went to India to deliver lectures and was a guest of the famous Rabindranath Tagore. He learned more of Sanatana-vedanta from Tagore.

Heisenberg, another German physicist, thinks that such exposure to vedanta (eastern philosophy) helped Niels Bohr a lot with his work in physics, because they showed him that all these new ideas in quantum physics were in fact not all that unique or new; in fact were known, in some form or the other, to the eastern philosophers! 

Niels Bohr realized that there was, in fact, a whole social culture in the east (particularly in India, also known as Bharatakhanda of those days,) that subscribed to similar ideas, not just about one ‘anu’ (atom), but all atoms and molecules that make up the entire cosmos. 

Heisenberg says that this early exposure to eastern philosophers was a great help to Niels Bohr; Heisenberg says, Niels Bohr had similar experiences when he went to China too.”

Schrodinger, another Austrian-Irish physicist who read a lot of eastern vedanta, wrote in his book Meine Weltansicht:

“This life of yours which you are living is not only a piece of the entire existence (universe,) but in a certain sense the whole.” In essence, Erwin Schrödinger was talking about ‘THAT YOU ARE’ concept of S(h)ankara which has a very deep meaning. {view the video clip under Reference to know how such concepts were outlined by eastern philosophers in the shloka- {PURNAMADHA, PURNAMIDAM, PURNATH PURNAMUDACHYATE… that says it all!}

 “Tat Tvam Asi”, concept is further explained by learned vedantins, who elaborate on it saying, I am in the east and the west, I am above and below, I am this entire world.”

Sanskrit shloka, ब्रह्मैवेदममृतं पुरस्तात् ब्रह्म पश्चात् ब्रह्म उत्तरतो दक्षिणतश्चोत्तरेण ।अधश्चोर्ध्वं च प्रसृतं ब्रह्मैवेदं विश्वमिदं वरिष्ठम् ॥ 2.2.11

…says it in the Mundaka Upanishad mantra (above) in which the vedic understanding of the connectivity of ‘atman’ (life) in our body with the ‘paramatman’ (god,) the living entity in cosmos, that surrounds all life from time immemorial… be it in the East, West, Above or Below!

“The multiplicity of this life of ours is apparent. This is the doctrine of the Upanishads. The mystical experience of the union with god (thought of as the whole universe…) leads to this view, although strong prejudices stand in the western world against this…”  says Erwin Schrödinger, in “What is Life?”, p. 129, Cambridge University Press.

Erwin Schrödinger, further states that “there is no other framework within which we can find human ‘consciousness’ in its plurality… the only solution to this conflict, in so far as anything available to us… lies in the ancient wisdom of the Upanishads.” says, Erwin Schrödinger…

at Mein Leben, Meine Weltansicht [My Life, My World View] (1961), Chapter 4) written by Erwin Schrödinger, Austrian-Irish philosopher & physicist.

Niels Bohr read vedic passages in their original form. He acquired a knowledge of the Sanskrit language, read and re-read Upanishads, to gain a better understanding of the connectivity of life on earth to life of the Universe in order to elaborate on what he published in some of his papers on ‘Quantum theory’.

Niels Bohr has been quoted as saying, “I go into the Upanishads to ask questions.” As an avid reader of Vedas and Upanishads, Niels Bohr is reported to have observed that their experiments in quantum physics were consistent with what they (eastern philosophers,) had read in the Vedas.

As early as 1922, Niels Bohr, understood the meaning of ‘paramanu’ (Sanskirt word,) as a subatomic component that can be thought of as a smaller component of the ‘anu’ (atom).



Niels Bohr conceived the principle of ‘complementarity’ when he stated that items could be separately analyzed in terms of contradictory properties, like when they behave as a wave or stream of particles in atomic physics. The notion of ‘complementarity’ dominated Bohr’s thinking in both science and philosophy.

Neils Bohr founded the Institute of Theoretical Physics at the University of Copenhagen. It is now known as the Neils Bohr Institute, it opened for business in year 1920. Bohr mentored and collaborated with physicists including Hans Kramers, Oskar Klein, George de Hevesy, and Werner Heisenberg. 

He predicted the existence of a new element which was named as Hafnium. It is said to be similar to Zirconium. Later on another element Bohrium has also been named after him.



During the 1930s, Bohr helped refugees from Europe to escape from Nazism. After Denmark was occupied by the Germans, he had a famous meeting with Heisenberg, who had become the head of the German nuclear weapon project. In September 1943 word reached that Bohr was about to be arrested by the Germans; and he fled to Sweden. From there, he was flown to Britain, where he joined the British Tube Alloys nuclear weapons project, and was part of the British mission to the Manhattan Project at USA (to make the atom bomb that was dropped in Japan to stop their advances on the west.)

After the war, Bohr called for international cooperation on nuclear energy. He was involved with the establishment of CERN and the Research Establishment- Riso of the Danish Atomic Energy commission and finally became first Chairman of the Nordic Institute for Theoretical Physics in 1957.



Number of Indian students study at Niels Bohr Institute today. Many of them took a day off to meet India PM Modi; to hear him speak. Indian diaspora was happy to meet PM of India.

'Who gave him the rights': Father of boy who sang for PM Modi threatens legal action against Kunal Kamra  

Modi ji also met the Danish Premier and the Queen of Denmark.

See the source image

Danish Premier and India’s PM met at a historic get-together earlier this week. Number of Green Energy projects have been signed-off between India and Denmark.

Green Energy projects include Technology transfer and help in Battery production for EVs; by the way, I doubt if India can compete with China on such issues!


PM of India, Sri Modi ji, also attended the 2nd Nordic Summit at Copenhagen. 


I am posting below a videoclip of India PM Modi’s visit to Denmark where the Queen of Denmark hosted a dinner in Modi’s honor.

(my source of clip is the NET.)



Sanskrit shloka (known as a mantra of peace) which clearly states how we are all part of the whole Universe… is at link (Reference-1) listed below:-

Peace Mantra With Lyrics | Om Purnamadah Purnamidam Purnat Purnamudachyate – ॐ शांति शांति शांति – Bing video 

Motherhood And Apple Pie | Sulekha Creative 

MIND BODY MEDICINE Deepak Chopra – Bing video 

Spiritual Solutions | Dr. Deepak Chopra | Talks at Google – Bing video

Rooted in past, lives in present, works for future of science | Sulekha Creative


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Suresh Rao

Mellowed out and enlightened septuagenarian. Tech savvy. Social writing is just a pastime to kill time. I keep contributing to several developmental projects in the area of engineering education, IT and Healthcare projects launched by my kith and kin. I am too lazy to write a book, 'cause I think my life itself is a book! I am also at

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