In 1896 Boris Podolsky was born into a poor Jewish family in Taganrog in what was then the Russian Empire, and he moved to the United States in 1913. After receiving a BS degree in Electrical Engineering from the University of Southern California in 1918, he served in the US Army and then worked at the Los Angeles Bureau of Power and Light. In 1926, he obtained an MS in Mathematics from the University of Southern California. In 1928 he received a PhD in Theoretical Physics(under Paul Sophus Epstein) from Caltech.
Under a National Research Council Fellowship, Podolsky spent a year at the University of California Berkeley, followed by a year at Leipzig University. In 1930, he returned to Caltech, working with Richard C. Tolman for one year. He then went to the Kharkiv Polytechnical Institute, collaborating with Vladimir Fock, Paul Dirac (who was there on a visit), and Lev Landau. In 1933, he returned to the USA with a fellowship from the Institute for Advanced Study, Princeton. In 1935, he took a post as professor of mathematical physics at the University of Cincinnati. In 1961, he moved to the Xavier University, Cincinnati, where he lived until his death in 1966.
Working with Albert Einstein and Nathan Rosen, Podolsky conceived the EPR Paradox, which stimulated debate as to the interpretation of quantum mechanics. This work predicted (and subsequently verified in the laboratory) the phenomenon that has come to be known as "action at a distance". If "stargate travel",and "wormhole" or "subspace" communication ever become reality, this work will be the basis of those future developments.
In 1933, Podolsky and Lev Landau had the idea to write a textbook on electromagnetism beginning with special relativity and emphasizing theoretical postulates rather than experimental laws. This project did not come to fruition due to Podolsky's return to the United States, where he had immigrated in 1913. However, in the hands of Lev Davidovich Landau and E. Lifshitz, the outline they produced became The Classical Theory of Fields (1951). On the same basis, Podolsky and K. Kunz produced Fundamentals of Electrodynamics, Marcel Dekker Press (1969), to which Podolsky's son, Robert, contributed most of the questions at the end of each chapter.
A 2009 book by John Earl Haynes, Harvey Klehr and Alexander Vassiliev, Spies: The Rise and Fall of the KGB in America, outs Podolsky as a spy. During the war, Podolsky sought out Soviet intelligence and recommended the USSR work on processing Uranium 235. As suggested by KGB files and decrypted Venona cables, Podolsky, code named QUANTUM, passed to the Soviets information he had probably gleaned from his contacts in the scientific community: complex chemical equations on the process of gaseous diffusion in order to separate bomb grade U-235 from unwanted U-238. Unlike most other Soviet spies operating in the US who passed information only for ideological reasons, Podolsky apparently passed this information for a price ($300), according to Soviet sources recently analyzed by historians.