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Landau, Lev Davidovitch

physics moscow theoretical properties

[lan dow] (1908–68) Russian theoretical physicist: explained remarkable properties of liquid helium.

Landau was the son of a petroleum engineer and a doctor, and attended the universities of Baku and Leningrad. In 1929 he met in Copenhagen, forming a long-lasting and productive working friendship. In 1932 he moved to Kharkov, becoming professor of physics in 1935. In 1937 , setting up the Institute of Physical Problems in Moscow, asked Landau to be director of theoretical physics. A professorship at Moscow State University followed in 1943. As a notable teacher and personality Landau (known as Dau) created a strong school of theoretical physics in Moscow, contributing to statistical physics, thermodynamics, low-temperature physics, atomic and nuclear physics, astrophysics, quantum mechanics, particle physics and quantum electrodynamics. He published from 1938, with E M Lifshitz (1917–69), a famous series of textbooks. Landau explained the superfluidity (vanishing viscosity below 2.19 K) and superconductivity properties of helium II using the concepts of a phonon (quantized vibrational excitation) and a roton (quantized rotational excitation). He was awarded the Nobel Prize in 1962 for this work and other contributions to condensed matter physics. Sadly, he was critically injured in a motor accident in 1962 and never recovered, dying 6 years later.

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