His accomplishments include the independent co-discovery of the density matrix method in quantum mechanics (alongside John von Neumann), the quantum mechanical theory of diamagnetism, the theory of superfluidity, the theory of second-order phase transitions, the Ginzburg–Landau theory of superconductivity, the theory of Fermi liquid, the explanation of Landau damping in plasma physics, the Landau pole in quantum electrodynamics, the two-component theory of neutrinos, and Landau's equations for S matrix singularities. He received the 1962 Nobel Prize in Physics for his development of a mathematical theory of superfluidity that accounts for the properties of liquid helium II at a temperature below 2.17 K (−270.98 °C).
Lev Davidovich Landau
22 January 1908
|Died|| 1 April 1968 (aged 60) |
|Resting place||Novodevichy Cemetery, Moscow|
|Education||Baku Economical Technical School|
|Alma mater||Baku State University|
Leningrad State University (diploma, 1927)
Leningrad Physico-Technical Institute (D.Sc., 1934)
|Known for||Landau damping|
Landau kinetic equation
Landau-Lifshitz fluctuating hydrodynamics
Landau–Hopf theory of turbulence
Course of Theoretical Physics
|Spouse(s)||K. T. Drobanzeva (married 1937; 1 child) (1908–1984)|
|Awards||Stalin Prize (1946) |
Max Planck Medal (1960)
Nobel Prize in Physics (1962)
|Institutions||Kharkov Polytechnical Institute and Kharkov University (later Kharkov Institute of Physics and Technology)|
Institute for Physical Problems (RAS)
MSU Faculty of Physics
|Academic advisors||Niels Bohr|
|Doctoral students||Alexei Alexeyevich Abrikosov|
Isaak Markovich Khalatnikov
|Other notable students||Evgeny Lifshitz|
Landau was born on 22 January 1908 to Jewish parents in Baku, Azerbaijan, in what was then the Russian Empire. Landau's father, David Lvovich Landau, was an engineer with the local oil industry, and his mother, Lyubov Veniaminovna Garkavi-Landau, was a doctor. A child prodigy in mathematics, he learned to differentiate at age 12 and to integrate at age 13. Landau graduated in 1920 at age 13 from gymnasium. His parents considered him too young to attend university, so for a year he attended the Baku Economical Technical School. In 1922, at age 14, he matriculated at the Baku State University, studying in two departments simultaneously: the Departments of Physics and Mathematics, and the Department of Chemistry. Subsequently, he ceased studying chemistry, but remained interested in the field throughout his life.
In 1924, he moved to the main centre of Soviet physics at the time: the Physics Department of Leningrad State University, where he dedicated himself to the study of theoretical physics, graduating in 1927. Landau subsequently enrolled for post-graduate studies at the Leningrad Physico-Technical Institute where he eventually received a doctorate in Physical and Mathematical Sciences in 1934. Landau got his first chance to travel abroad during the period 1929–1931, on a Soviet government—People's Commissariat for Education—travelling fellowship supplemented by a Rockefeller Foundation fellowship. By that time he was fluent in German and French and could communicate in English. He later improved his English and learned Danish.
After brief stays in Göttingen and Leipzig, he went to Copenhagen on 8 April 1930 to work at the Niels Bohr's Institute for Theoretical Physics. He stayed there until 3 May of the same year. After the visit, Landau always considered himself a pupil of Niels Bohr and Landau's approach to physics was greatly influenced by Bohr. After his stay in Copenhagen, he visited Cambridge (mid-1930), where he worked with Paul Dirac, Copenhagen (September to November 1930), and Zurich (December 1930 to January 1931), where he worked with Wolfgang Pauli. From Zurich Landau went back to Copenhagen for the third time and stayed there from 25 February until 19 March 1931 before returning to Leningrad the same year.
Between 1932 and 1937, Landau headed the Department of Theoretical Physics at the National Scientific Center Kharkiv Institute of Physics and Technology, and he lectured at the University of Kharkiv and the Kharkiv Polytechnical Institute. Apart from his theoretical accomplishments, Landau was the principal founder of a great tradition of theoretical physics in Kharkiv, Ukraine, sometimes referred to as the "Landau school". In Kharkiv, he and his friend and former student, Evgeny Lifshitz, began writing the Course of Theoretical Physics, ten volumes that together span the whole of the subject and are still widely used as graduate-level physics texts. During the Great Purge, Landau was investigated within the UPTI Affair in Kharkiv, but he managed to leave for Moscow to take up a new post.
Landau developed a famous comprehensive exam called the "Theoretical Minimum" which students were expected to pass before admission to the school. The exam covered all aspects of theoretical physics, and between 1934 and 1961 only 43 candidates passed, but those who did later became quite notable theoretical physicists.
On 27 April 1938, Landau was arrested for comparing Stalinism to Nazism, and he was held in the NKVD's Lubyanka prison until his release on 29 April 1939, after the head of the institute Pyotr Kapitsa, an experimental low-temperature physicist, wrote a letter to Joseph Stalin, personally vouching for Landau's behaviour, and threatening to quit the institute if Landau were not released. After his release, Landau discovered how to explain Kapitsa's superfluidity using sound waves, or phonons, and a new excitation called a roton.
Landau led a team of mathematicians supporting Soviet atomic and hydrogen bomb development. He calculated the dynamics of the first Soviet thermonuclear bomb, including predicting the yield. For this work Landau received the Stalin Prize in 1949 and 1953, and was awarded the title "Hero of Socialist Labour" in 1954.
Landau's accomplishments include the independent co-discovery of the density matrix method in quantum mechanics (alongside John von Neumann), the quantum mechanical theory of diamagnetism, the theory of superfluidity, the theory of second-order phase transitions, the Ginzburg–Landau theory of superconductivity, the theory of Fermi liquid, the explanation of Landau damping in plasma physics, the Landau pole in quantum electrodynamics, the two-component theory of neutrinos, and Landau's equations for S matrix singularities.
Landau received the 1962 Nobel Prize in Physics for his development of a mathematical theory of superfluidity that accounts for the properties of liquid helium II at a temperature below 2.17 K (−270.98 °C)." 
In 1937, Landau married Kora T. Drobanzeva from Kharkiv. Their son Igor was born in 1946. Landau believed in "free love" rather than monogamy and encouraged his wife and his students to practise "free love". However, his wife was not enthusiastic.
Landau was an atheist. In 1957, a lengthy report to the CPSU Central Committee by the KGB recorded Landau's views on the 1956 Hungarian Uprising, Vladimir Lenin and what he termed "red fascism".
On 7 January 1962, Landau's car collided with an oncoming truck. He was severely injured and spent two months in a coma. Although Landau recovered in many ways, his scientific creativity was destroyed, and he never returned fully to scientific work. His injuries prevented him from accepting the 1962 Nobel Prize for physics in person.
Throughout his whole life Landau was known for his sharp humour, which can be illustrated by the following dialogue with a psychiatrist (P), who tried to test for possible brain damage while Landau (L) was recovering from the car crash:
In 1965 former students and co-workers of Landau founded the Landau Institute for Theoretical Physics, located in the town of Chernogolovka near Moscow, and led for the following three decades by Isaak Markovich Khalatnikov.
In June 1965, Lev Landau and Yevsei Liberman published a letter in the New York Times, stating that as Soviet Jews they opposed U.S. intervention on behalf of the Student Struggle for Soviet Jewry.
Two celestial objects are named in his honour:
The highest prize in theoretical physics awarded by the Russian Academy of Sciences is named in his honour:
Landau kept a list of names of physicists which he ranked on a logarithmic scale of productivity ranging from 0 to 5. The highest ranking, 0, was assigned to Isaac Newton. Albert Einstein was ranked 0.5. A rank of 1 was awarded to the founding fathers of quantum mechanics, Niels Bohr, Werner Heisenberg, Satyen Bose, Paul Dirac and Erwin Schrödinger, and others. Landau ranked himself as a 2.5 but later promoted himself to a 2. David Mermin, writing about Landau, referred to the scale, and ranked himself in the fourth division, in the article "My Life with Landau: Homage of a 4.5 to a 2".
A complete list of Landau's works appeared in 1998 in the Russian journal Physics-Uspekhi. Landau would allow to list himself as a co-author of a journal article on two conditions: 1) he brought up the idea of the work, partly or entirely, and 2) he performed at least some calculations presented in the article. Consequently, he removed his name from numerous publications of his students where his contribution was less significant.
I present here two examples of notable atheists. The first is Lev Landau, the most brilliant Soviet physicist of the twentieth century.
Baku State University (BSU; Azerbaijani: Bakı Dövlət Universiteti) is a public university located in Baku, Azerbaijan. Established in 1919 by the Parliament of Azerbaijan Democratic Republic, the University started with faculties of history and philology; physics and mathematics; law and medicine with an initial enrollment of 1094. The first rector of BSU was V.I.Razumovsky, a former professor of surgery at Kazan University.
In 1930, the government ordered the University shut down in accordance with a reorganization of higher education, and the University was replaced with the Supreme Pedagogical Institute. However, in 1934 the University was reestablished again, and continued to work through the difficult years of World War II experiencing a shortage of faculty members.
By its 40th anniversary in 1959, the University already had 13 faculties. The Azerbaijan Medical University and Azerbaijan State Economic University were both spun-offs of the original respective faculties at BSU.
Among the graduates of BSU were two former presidents of Azerbaijan, Abulfaz Elchibey and Heydar Aliyev. The former graduated from the Faculty of Arabic Language and Literature, while the latter, who dominated Azerbaijan's political life for over 30 years, from the Faculty of History. Nobel Prize-winning physicist Lev Landau studied at BSU between 1922 and 1924.
BSU is the only university from Azerbaijan Republic ranked by international ranking organizations, such as University Ranking by Academic Performance and currently ranks at 1872 in the University Ranking by Academic Performance.Course of Theoretical Physics
The Course of Theoretical Physics is a ten-volume series of books covering theoretical physics that was initiated by Lev Landau and written in collaboration with his student Evgeny Lifshitz starting in the late 1930s.
It is said that Landau composed much of the series in his head while in an NKVD prison in 1938-1939. However, almost all of the actual writing of the early volumes was done by Lifshitz, giving rise to the witticism, "not a word of Landau and not a thought of Lifshitz". The first eight volumes were finished in the 1950s, written in Russian and translated into English in the late 1950s by John Stewart Bell, together with John Bradbury Sykes, M. J. Kearsley, and W. H. Reid. The last two volumes were written in the early 1980s. Vladimir Berestetskii and Lev Pitaevskii also contributed to the series. The series is often referred to as "Landau and Lifshitz", "Landafshitz" (Russian: "Ландафшиц"), or "Lanlifshitz" (Russian: "Ланлифшиц") in informal settings.Gennady Gorelik
Gennady Gorelik (born 1948, Lviv) is a research fellow at the Center for Philosophy and History of Science, Boston University. A physicist by education and historian by occupation, he published ten books and many articles on popular science and history of science, including in-depth biographies of 20th-century Russian physicists, Matvei Bronstein, Andrei Sakharov, and Lev Landau.
In his biography of Sakharov, he provides the documentary explanation of Sakharov's metamorphosis from a secret father of the Soviet H-bomb to most prominent advocate of human rights in the Soviet Union.In 1995, he received a Guggenheim Fellowship.Institute for Physical Problems
P. L. Kapitza Institute for Physical Problems (Russian: Институт физических проблем имени П. Л. Капицы РАН) of the Russian Academy of Sciences. The Institute was founded in 1934. The founder of the Institute, Nobel laurate Pyotr Kapitsa served as its head for many years. The head of the theoretical division of the Institute was Lev Landau. The primary direction of research at the Institute is low temperature physics, such as superconductivity and superfluidity. The theoretical division later became Landau Institute for Theoretical Physics.Kharkiv Theoretical Physics School
The Kharkiv Theoretical Physics School was founded by Lev Landau in Kharkov, Soviet Union (now Kharkiv, Ukraine). It is sometimes referred to as the Landau school — more precisely, one might say that Landau's group at Kharkiv was the beginning of the Landau school that, after Landau moved to the Kapitza’ Institute for Physical Problems in Moscow, included new generations of theoretical physicists from the countries of the former Soviet Union. Lev Landau was the head of the Kharkhiv Theoretical Physics School from 1932 to 1937, when he left for Moscow. His students at Kharkiv included Alexander Akhiezer, Evgeny Lifshitz, Ilya Lifshitz, and Isaak Pomeranchuk. Upon the recommendation of Edward Teller, László Tisza joined, in January 1935, Landau's group at Kharkiv and then returned to Budapest in 1937 after Landau's departure to Moscow.Landau developed a comprehensive exam called the "Theoretical Minimum" which students were expected to pass before admission to the school. The exam covered all aspects of theoretical physics, and between 1934–1937 in Kharkiv and 1937–1961 in Moscow only 43 candidates passed. In this way his students became proper physicists, rather than narrow specialists.
In Kharkiv, he and his friend and former student, Evgeny Lifshitz, began writing the Course of Theoretical Physics, ten volumes that together span the whole of the subject and are still widely used as graduate-level physics texts.Landau (crater)
Landau is a large lunar impact crater that is located in the northern hemisphere on the far side of the Moon. It was named after physicist Lev Landau. The crater Wegener is attached to the northeastern rim. Attached to the southeastern rim is Frost.
The outer rim of Landau is heavily eroded and modified by subsequent impacts. The most notable of these is Wood, which overlays the northwest rim. Much of the floor is hilly and irregular, with only the northeast quadrant being somewhat level. There are multiple small craters and craterlets in the floor. The most intact section of the rim is in the southwest, although this is now little more than a low ridge line.
Landau lies at the approximate margin of the Coulomb-Sarton Basin, a 530 km wide impact crater of Pre-Nectarian age.Landau Gold Medal
The Landau Gold Medal (Russian: Премия имени Л. Д. Ландау) is the highest award in theoretical physics awarded by the Russian Academy of Sciences and its predecessor the Soviet Academy of Sciences. It was established in 1971 and is named after Soviet physicist and Nobel Laureate Lev Landau. When awarded by the Soviet Academy of Sciences the award was the "Landau Prize"; the name was changed to the "Landau Gold Medal" in 1992.Landau Institute for Theoretical Physics
The L. D. Landau Institute for Theoretical Physics of the Russian Academy of Sciences is a research institution, located in the small town of Chernogolovka near Moscow (there is also a subdivision in Moscow). Its main fields of research are
Condensed matter theory
Nuclear and elementary particle physics
Quantum field theoryLandau distribution
In probability theory, the Landau distribution is a probability distribution named after Lev Landau.
Because of the distribution's "fat" tail, the moments of the distribution, like mean or variance, are undefined. The distribution is a particular case of stable distribution.Landau–Hopf theory of turbulence
In physics, the Landau–Hopf theory of turbulence, named for Lev Landau and Eberhard Hopf, was until the mid-1970s the accepted theory of how a fluid flow becomes turbulent. The theory says that as a fluid flows faster, it develops more and more Fourier modes. At first a few modes dominate, but under stronger forcing the modes become power-law distributed, as in Kolmogorov's theory of turbulence.Landau–Lifshitz model
In solid-state physics, the Landau–Lifshitz equation (LLE), named for Lev Landau and Evgeny Lifshitz, is a partial differential equation describing time evolution of magnetism in solids, depending on 1 time variable and 1, 2, or 3 space variables.Landau–Pomeranchuk–Migdal effect
In high-energy physics, the Landau–Pomeranchuk–Migdal effect, also known as the Landau–Pomeranchuk effect and the Pomeranchuk effect, or simply LPM effect, is a reduction of the bremsstrahlung and pair production cross sections at high energies or high matter densities. It is named in honor to Lev Landau, Isaak Pomeranchuk and Arkady Migdal.List of things named after Lev Landau
Lev Landau (1908 – 1968), Soviet physicist who made fundamental contributions to many areas of theoretical physics, is the eponym of the topics in physics listed below.Not even wrong
The phrase "not even wrong" describes an argument or explanation that purports to be scientific but is based on invalid reasoning or speculative premises that can neither be proven correct nor falsified. Hence, it refers to statements that cannot be discussed in a rigorous, scientific sense. For a meaningful discussion on whether a certain statement is true or false, the statement must satisfy the criterion called "falsifiability”, the inherent possibility for the statement to be tested and found false. In this sense, the phrase "not even wrong" is synonymous to "nonfalsifiable".The phrase is generally attributed to theoretical physicist Wolfgang Pauli, who was known for his colorful objections to incorrect or careless thinking. Rudolf Peierls documents an instance in which "a friend showed Pauli the paper of a young physicist which he suspected was not of great value but on which he wanted Pauli's views. Pauli remarked sadly, 'It is not even wrong'." This is also often quoted as "That is not only not right; it is not even wrong", or in Pauli's native German, "Das ist nicht nur nicht richtig; es ist nicht einmal falsch!". Peierls remarks that quite a few apocryphal stories of this kind have been circulated and mentions that he listed only the ones personally vouched for by him. He also quotes another example when Pauli replied to Lev Landau, "What you said was so confused that one could not tell whether it was nonsense or not."The phrase is often used to describe pseudoscience or bad science.Quantum hydrodynamics
In condensed matter physics, quantum hydrodynamics is most generally the study of hydrodynamic-like systems which demonstrate quantum mechanical behavior. They arise in semiclassical mechanics in the study of metal and semiconductor devices, in which case being derived from the Boltzmann transport equation combined with Wigner quasiprobability distribution. In quantum chemistry they arise as solutions to chemical kinetic systems, in which case they are derived from the Schrödinger equation by way of Madelung equations.
An important system of study in quantum hydrodynamics is that of superfluidity. Some other topics of interest in quantum hydrodynamics are quantum turbulence, quantized vortices, second and third sound, and quantum solvents. The quantum hydrodynamic equation is an equation in Bohmian mechanics, which, it turns out, has a mathematical relationship to classical fluid dynamics (see Madelung equations).
Some common experimental applications of these studies are in liquid helium (3He and 4He), and of the interior of neutron stars and the quark–gluon plasma. Many famous scientists have worked in quantum hydrodynamics, including Richard Feynman, Lev Landau, and Pyotr Kapitsa.Raychaudhuri equation
In general relativity, the Raychaudhuri equation, or Landau–Raychaudhuri equation, is a fundamental result describing the motion of nearby bits of matter.
The equation is important as a fundamental lemma for the Penrose-Hawking singularity theorems and for the study of exact solutions in general relativity, but has independent interest, since it offers a simple and general validation of our intuitive expectation that gravitation should be a universal attractive force between any two bits of mass-energy in general relativity, as it is in Newton's theory of gravitation.
The equation was discovered independently by the Indian physicist Amal Kumar Raychaudhuri and the Soviet physicist Lev Landau.Superfluidity
Superfluidity is the characteristic property of a fluid with zero viscosity which therefore flows without loss of kinetic energy. When stirred, a superfluid forms cellular vortices that continue to rotate indefinitely. Superfluidity occurs in two isotopes of helium (helium-3 and helium-4) when they are liquefied by cooling to cryogenic temperatures. It is also a property of various other exotic states of matter theorized to exist in astrophysics, high-energy physics, and theories of quantum gravity. The phenomenon is related to Bose–Einstein condensation, but neither is a specific type of the other: not all Bose-Einstein condensates can be regarded as superfluids, and not all superfluids are Bose–Einstein condensates. The theory of superfluidity was developed by Lev Landau.Type-I superconductor
The interior of a bulk superconductor cannot be penetrated by a weak magnetic field, a phenomenon known as the Meissner effect. When the applied magnetic field becomes too large, superconductivity breaks down. Superconductors can be divided into two types according to how this breakdown occurs. In type-I superconductors, superconductivity is abruptly destroyed via a first order phase transition when the strength of the applied field rises above a critical value Hc. This type of superconductivity is normally exhibited by pure metals, e.g. aluminium, lead, and mercury. The only alloy known up to now which exhibits type I superconductivity is TaSi2.
The covalent superconductor SiC:B, silicon carbide heavily doped with boron, is also type-I.Depending on the demagnetization factor, one may obtain an intermediate state. This state, first described by Lev Landau, is a phase separation into macroscopic non-superconducting and superconducting domains forming a Husimi Q representation.This behavior is different from type-II superconductors which exhibit two critical magnetic fields. The first, lower critical field occurs when magnetic flux vortices penetrate the material but the material remains superconducting outside of these microscopic vortices. When the vortex density becomes too large, the entire material becomes non-superconducting; this corresponds to the second, higher critical field.
The ratio of the London penetration depth λ to the superconducting coherence length ξ determines whether a superconductor is type-I or type-II. Type-I superconductors are those with 0 < λ/ξ < 1/√2, and type-II superconductors are those with λ/ξ > 1/√2.Veniamin Levich
Veniamin Grigorievich (Benjamin) Levich (Russian: Вениами́н Григо́рьевич Ле́вич; 30 March 1917 in Kharkiv, Ukraine – 19 January 1987 in Englewood, New Jersey, United States) was a Soviet dissident, internationally prominent physical chemist, electrochemist and founder of the discipline of physico-chemical hydrodynamics. He was a student of the theoretical physicist, Lev Landau. His landmark textbook titled Physicochemical Hydrodynamics is widely considered his most important contribution to science. The Levich equation describing a current at a rotating disk electrode is named after him. His research activities also included gas-phase collision reactions, electrochemistry, and the quantum mechanics of electron transfer.
Professor Levich received many honors during his life, including the Olin Palladium Award of The Electrochemical Society in 1973. He was elected a foreign member of the Norwegian Academy of Sciences in 1977 and a foreign associate of the U.S. National Academy of Engineering in 1982. He was also a member of numerous scientific organizations, although on leaving the USSR in 1978 he had to relinquish his Soviet citizenship and, therefore, was expelled from the USSR Academy of Sciences. An interdisciplinary institute at the City College of New York is named in his honor.