A bit of Lev's Personality...

(From Vinogradov)

These two stories give some insight into Lev Landau’s character.
Dr. Landau was the director of the Department of Theoretical Physics at the Kharkov Physical Technical Institute.  There was a particularly conceited and mediocre faculty person whose scientific career was largely based on plagiarism.  One day, the vain professor received a telegram informing him that he was nominated for the Nobel Prize in Physics and instructed him to compile his entire corpus of written work into two typed copies for submission to the department head on April 1st.  The excited professor began the arduous task of compiling his work and took special care to inform everyone of his newfound prestige.  After twice retyping all of his work, he submitted the documents to Dr. Landau. he was met with a sneer and a surprising question, "Did you really believe that a Nobel Prize would be given for this garbage?" Only then was the man's attention drawn to the date of the deadline: April Fool’s Day.


In a session of the Academy of Sciences of the (former) USSR, the agronomist Lysenko, founder of "creative Darwinism," gave a talk on the inheritance of acquired traits. When he finished his report, Lev Landau, who was in attendance, asked, “So, you argue that if we will cut off the ear of a cow, and the ear of its offspring, and so on, sooner or later the earless cows will start to be born?”  Lysenko replied, “Yes, that's right.”  “Then,” started Landau, “how you explain the virgins still being born?”


"His personal qualities are something of an enigma. He had a flaming sincerity for - and about - science. He attracted students by his enthusiasm and evident knowledge, but to a greater age than most retained aspects of the enfant terrible. He could also be hot and merciless in criticism. Yet those who knew him, from Niels Bohr to the writer of a Soviet appreciation of his 50th birthday, agreed that there was human warmth below his sharpness..."