This man made Niels Bohr stop speaking at his own seminar, Pyotr Kapitsa – write a letter to Stalin, and the King of Sweden – change the Nobel Prize ceremony. A strict teacher, a witty gnomic poet, a proletarian of mental labor, according to his own definition, a person who cannot stand any frameworks – this is Lev Landau. His close friends and colleagues gave him a short nickname: Dau. His relatives used an even more unceremonious name: Daunka. It is all the more amusing that Landau was actually a child prodigy. Jokingly, he used to say that he had learned how to integrate at the age of 13, but he had always known how to differentiate. He finished school at the age of 14 and entered two faculties of Baku University simultaneously – Physics & Mathematics and Chemistry. At the age of 19, he entered his graduate school, at the age of 21, he undertook internship abroad with Niels Bohr and at other world scientific centers, and then, till the age of 54, before his fatal car accident, he was dealing with quantum mechanics, solid state physics, magnetism, low temperature physics, physics of cosmic rays, hydrodynamics, quantum field theory, nuclear physics, and plasma physics. It is impossible to list everything: they said about Landau that “there were no locked doors for him in the huge building of physics of the 20th century.” He became a legend during his lifetime, received the Nobel Prize, three Stalin and Lenin Prizes, was a member of the European and American Academies. His heritage is vast, his works have become the classics, and his phrases have turned into aphorisms. Landau used to call himself a proletarian of mental labor. However, he did not like the word “scientist” – according to him, only a cat could be well-learned.
Brilliant physics ended in January 1962 on an icy highway near Moscow. Landau was saved by Soviet doctors and physicists from all over the world – they donated medicines and everything needed for his treatment. He returned to life, but not to science. A Swedish ambassador visited him in his hospital ward where the scientist received the Nobel Prize. Contrary to the protocol.