About Lev Landau, Nobel Prize in Physics, 1962
Lev Davidovich Landau (Russian language: Ле́в Дави́дович Ланда́у; January 22 [O.S. January 9] 1908 – April 1, 1968) was a prominent Soviet physicist who made fundamental contributions to many areas of theoretical physics.
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).
His accomplishments include the co-discovery of the density matrix method in quantum mechanics, the quantum mechanical theory of diamagnetism, the theory of superfluidity, the theory of second order phase transitions, the Ginzburg–Landau theory of superconductivity, the explanation of Landau damping in plasma physics, the Landau pole in quantum electrodynamics, and the two-component theory of neutrinos. In 1932 he proposed that every star has a condensed core consisting of “one gigantic nucleus” that does not behave in accord in with “the ordinary laws of quantum mechanics.” Later he modified this idea, suggesting that all stars have a neutron core that generates energy as nuclei and electrons condense onto it. 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).
Landau was born on January 22, 1908 to a Jewish family in Baku, in what was then the Russian Empire. Landau's father was an engineer with the local oil industry and his mother was a doctor. Recognized very early as a child prodigy in mathematics, Landau was quoted as saying in later life that he scarcely remembered a time when he was not familiar with calculus. Landau graduated at 13 from gymnasium. His parents regarded him too young to attend university, so for a year he attended the Baku Economical Technicum. In 1922, at age 14, he matriculated at Baku State University, studying at two departments simultaneously: the department 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. In Leningrad, he first made the acquaintance of genuine theoretical physics and dedicated himself fully to its study, graduating in 1927. Landau subsequently enrolled for post-graduate study at the Leningrad Physico-Technical Institute, and at 21, received a doctorate. Landau got his first chance to travel abroad in 1929, on a Soviet government traveling fellowship supplemented by a Rockefeller Foundation fellowship.
After brief stays in Göttingen and Leipzig, he went to Copenhagen to work at Niels Bohr's Institute for Theoretical Physics. 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 and Zürich before returning to the Soviet Union. Between 1932 and 1937 he headed the department of theoretical physics at the Kharkov Polytechnical Institute.