Term Paper: 1962 Nobel Prize in Physics

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1962 Nobel Prize in Physics

The Nobel Prize

There are many Nobel prizes. They are awarded in Chemistry, Peace, Literature, Physiology, Economics, and Physics. The economics prize was not one of the original prizes. The other five were created through the will of Alfred Nobel, a Swedish scientist (Dorozynski, 1965). These were created in 1895, but they were not given out for the first time until 1901. The economics prize was first given out in 1969, after being created in 1968. It was instituted by the central bank in Sweden and designated to be in memory of Alfred Nobel. All of the six prize areas have been widely regarded as being the highest commendations in each of their subject areas. The peace prize is handed out in Oslo, Norway. The rest of the prizes are handed out in Stockholm, Sweden at an annual ceremony (Dorozynski, 1965). This is always done on the 10th of December, which is the anniversary of the death of Alfred Nobel.

Selecting a Nobel Laureate is not easy. There are strong screening processes that must be undertaken and the decision is made by committee (Dorozynski, 1965). Economics has a committee with six members and all of the other prizes have a committee of five individuals each. Several thousand individuals are originally asked to nominate candidates in the first stage of the decision process (Dorozynski, 1965). The names that are collected are then discussed and scrutinized by people that are experts in the discipline that they are involved with.

Eventually, the names are weeded out through a selection process until a winner is selected.

While this might seem like a long and arduous process, Alfred Nobel himself had insisted on this type of process (Dorozynski, 1965). He believed it was part of what made the prize important (Dorozynski, 1965). Despite this kind of selection criteria, however, over the many years that the prizes have been awarded some people have been omitted that others think should not have been. In addition, some of the people that have won awards have also been argued against by others in the same discipline (Dorozynski, 1965).

Typically, the names of the laureates for all of the prizes are announced in the month of October. Then the prizes are given out in December (Khalatnikov, 1989). Each award can only be given to a maximum of three people in any given year. The prize is a diploma, a gold medal, Swedish citizenship, and a cash grant. The cash grant is approximately $1.4 million in United States funds. Originally, the purpose of the grant was to help fund the further work of the laureates that were chosen (Khalatnikov, 1989). However, many of the recipients are retired by the time that they win their award and they can simply do what they like with the money that they are given.

If there is more than one winner in a specific category the grant money for the award is equally divided among the two people that win. If three people win the grant committee has some options (Khalatnikov, 1989). It can either award the grant money in three equal ways, or it can give 1/2 of the grant to one recipient and 1/4 to each of the other two recipients. Many of the recipients that receive grant money often take it and donate it to cultural, scientific, or humanitarian causes, but this is certainly not required (Khalatnikov, 1989).

Beginning in 1902, the King of Sweden has presented all prizes in Stockholm with the exception of the peace prize. Originally, King Oscar Ii did not like the idea of allowing a foreigner to win the grand prize (Khalatnikov, 1989). However, once the publicity value was noted and the importance of Sweden could be showcased his changed his mind because he realized how very important this could end up being for the country. The peace prize, which was presented in Norway, was handed out originally by the President of the Norwegian Parliament and then later by the Norwegian Nobel Committee, which was created in 1904 (Khalatnikov, 1989).

Lev Davidovich Landau

The winner of the Nobel Prize in Physics in 1962 was Baku-born Lev Davidovich Landau (Janouch, 1979). He was the son of a physician and an engineer and was born on the 22nd of January in 1908.

Landau attended Leningrad University and graduated from its Physical Department when he was 19 years old (Janouch, 1979). The scientific career that he enjoyed was begun at the Leningrad Physico-Technical Institute. During the years 1929 to 1931 he lived and worked abroad. Some of this was spent as a Rockefeller Foundation Fellow, and Landau worked in England, Switzerland, and Germany (Janouch, 1979). Most notably, however, he worked in Copenhagen under the direction of the great Niels Bohr (Janouch, 1979).

Beginning in 1932 and continuing until 1937 he headed up the Theoretical Department of the Ukrainian Physico-Technical Institute at Kharov (Lev, 2003). In 1937 he became the head of the Theoretical Department of the Institute for Physical Problems at the Academy of Sciences in the U.S.S.R. In Moscow (Lev, 2003). Because of this, he taught simultaneously as a theoretical physics professor in the Moscow and Kharkov State Universities (Lev, 2003).

The work that Landau undertook covered all of the branches in theoretical physics. These ranged from the quantum field theory to fluid mechanics. Many of the papers he wrote are focused on the theory of the condensed state (Lev, 2003). In 1936 he began with a formulation of the general thermodynamical theory that related to second order phase transitions. When the superfluidity of liquid helium was discovered by P.L. Kapista in 1938, Landau made his research more extensive and this research eventually took him toward construction of a complete theory that dealt with the low temperature behavior of what he termed 'quantum liquids' (Lev, 2003).

The papers that he wrote between 1941 and 1947 were chiefly devoted to a theory that dealt with quantum liquids that were considered to be of the "Bose type." These were liquids to which superfluid liquid helium (the usual isotope 4He) refers (Lev, 2003). Between 1956 and 1958 Landau created another theory; this one dealing with quantum liquids of a "Fermi type." These involved the liquid helium of isotope 3He (Lev, 2003).

In 1946, Landau was elected to a membership of the Academy of Sciences in the U.S.S.R. The U.S.S.R. State Prize was also awarded to him many times, and in 1962 he also received, in a joint endeavor with E.M. Lif*****z, the Lenin Science Prize. This was given to them for their Course of Theoretical Physics (Lev, 2003).

Landau held many other awards throughout his lifetime (Lev, 2003). Among them, he was a Foreign Member of the Royal Society (in London), a Foreign Member of the Danish Royal Academy of Sciences, a Foreign Member of the Netherlands Royal Academy of Sciences, a Foreign Associate in the National Academy of Sciences in the United States, an Honorary Member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, an Honorary Member of the Physical Society (in London), and an Honorary Member of the Physical Society (also in France) (Lev, 2003).

In 1961, Landau received both the Max Planck Medal and the Fritz London Prize (Lev, 2003). In 1962 he was involved in a terrible car accident in which he was nearly killed (Lev, 2003). Although he ultimately survived the crash he was plagued with problems from that wreck after that point. Eventually, he died largely from injuries received in that crash (Lev, 2003). He passed away on the 1st of April, 1968, but his legacy still lives on today in the Landau Institute (Lev, 2003).

The Landau Institute

Founded in 1965, the L.D.Landau Institute for Theoretical Physics originally only had five researchers employed (Kojevnikov, 2004). All of these original five individuals were Landau's students. From that day, however, the Institute has enjoyed continued growth and development. It now has 100 members, which is quite a significant change from the original five (Kojevnikov, 2004). Isaak M. Khalatnikov was the director of the Institute from the day it was founded through 1992. In 1992 Vladmimir E. Zakharov took over for Khalatnikov (Kojevnikov, 2004).

Now that the Landau Institute for Theoretical Physics has been operating for over forty years it has the distinction of remaining a unique scientific center. It really has no equal in Russia or in any other parts of the world (Kojevnikov, 2004). The Institute always has made it a policy to employ specialists of very high caliber in all of the branches that are found today in modern theoretical physics. It has also given them an ideal environment for both their interaction and the joint work that they often engage in. The Landau Institute has therefore always been considered to be the one place in the world where both the best and the newest Science was continually being developed.

The Institute, however, has also been much more than just a center for science. In addition, it has also been… [END OF PREVIEW]

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