Soviet Physicist Lev Landau

The only Nobel Prize winner in physics, who knew absolutely everything about physic.

“Everyone has to choose for himself how to live”.

Lev Landau

Landau and his wife Cora

Landau and his wife Cora during the award ceremony of the Nobel Prize in physics, which for the first time in the history of the Nobel Committee took place in the hospital where Landau was (from the book by Maya Bessarab).

Early Achievements

At thirteen, Lev Landau graduated from high school.

At nineteen, Landau has already published 4 research papers, and in one of them he used the density matrix, which subsequently received the widest application among physicists.

Landau attended his classes at the University of Landau only once in a while, but he studied a lot by himself, for up to twenty hours a day.

All of his early successes would not be possible if one day a weak boy who was falling behind his peers in physical development, hadn’t decided to take fate into his own hands.

“The most important thing is to learn to enjoy life”.

Lev Landau

Classification of Scientists According to Landau

Landau could not do without classifying all the physicists. But he classified them using a logarithmic scale, that is, every following level of physicists had to achieve 10 times more than the previous one! And there were only five levels in the classification by Landau. That meant that a physicist of the 1stlevel had to achieve 10,000 times more than an ordinary physicist. Albert Einstein was placed by Landau in a class of his own – 0.5.

They had to achieve something. Ranks, education, and other factors were empty wordsfor Landau. Authority could only be supported by the results of scientific work.


Lev Landau did not like his name. He preferred to be called simply Dau. He even announced to his students at the beginning of lectures that they should call him simply Dau.

“Just make sure you do everything with excitement – it makes your life better”.


Special Dau Cohort

Dau was a great teacher. He liked working withstudents, and he was very attentive to his students. And, in return, young scientists were eager to work with a talented physicist. But what could you do with a huge army of aspiring pupils? Dau created an examination session, during which you had to take 2 math exams and 7 physics exams. Over the past decades, only 43 people have passed this examination- “minimum”. And they all received an opportunity of working with Dau.

A Course of Theoretical Physics

An idea of ​​creating the course came to Dau when he was still a student (around 1920). The collaborators of the coursecame and went away. The main co-author of the course was Evgeniy Lifshitz.

This unprecedented by the scope of the material course has been and still remains the most popular course of theoretical physics, and it’s been translated into many languages.

The first volume of the course came out before the start of World War II, and the last volumes were published only after the death of Dau.  They covered such fields of physics as mechanics, field theory, quantum mechanics, quantum electrodynamics, and 6 more volumes.

For many years this course has become the main educational material for theoretical physicists, and it’s being republished to this day.

See also:

Landau: Russian Nuclear Project


To discover Russia with Alexey Gureev


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