Landau | Genius scale
In 1930s, Lev Landau, famously carried around a "genius scale" in his pocket, ranking all physicists of his day on a logarithmic scale, considering, supposedly, those above him to be "superior intellects" and those below him "fools". One example of someone he considered "on par" with him, supposedly, was Wolfgang Pauli. Landau, according to David Kahana (2015), was well-known to be utterly merciless with colleagues that he considered to be lesser intellects than himself. The following is the story, quite possibly apocryphal, as reported by Lubos Motl (2008), of what is supposed to have happened when Pauli met Landau:
- “Landau who treated everyone else as a fool found his match in Pauli. After explaining his work to a skeptical Pauli, he angrily asked whether Pauli thought that his ideas were nonsense. ‘Not at all, not at all,’ came the reply. ‘Your ideas are so confused I cannot tell whether they are nonsense or not’.”
The only person, according to Kahana, who easily matched Landau in arrogance was Wolfgang Pauli.
The following are related quotes:
- “Astrology is that deceptive opinion by means of which a living is made from fools.”
- “I am thoroughly frightened by what happened to our master, Copernicus. Although he won immortal fame among some persons, nevertheless among countless – for so large is the number of fools – he became a target of ridicule and derision. I would of course have the courage to make my thoughts public, if there were more people like you. But since there aren’t, I shall avoid this kind of activity.”
- “A fool, Mr. Edgeworth, is one who has never made an experiment.”
- “To all rational readers, the use of the chemical theory, in Goethe’s Elective Affinities, is nonsense and childish fooling around.”
- Landau genius scale – Hmolpedia 2020.
- (a) Motl, Lubos. (2008). “Lev Landau was Born 100 Years Ago” (Ѻ), The Reference Frame, Blogspot, Jan 22.
(b) Where would Edward Witten fall in Lev Landau’s scale? (2015) – Quora.com.
- Shlain, Leonard. (2009). Leonardo’s Brain: Understanding da Vinci’s Creative Genius (pg. 120). Lyons Press, 2014.
- Repcheck, Jack. (2007). Copernicus’ Secret: How the Scientific Revolution Began (thank you note, pgs. 191-92; nail, pg. 193). Simon & Schuster.
- Jevons, Stanley. (1880). “Experimental Legislation” (Ѻ), Popular Science, 16:754, Apr.
- (a) Wieland, Christoph Martin. (1810). "Letter to Karl August Böttiger" July 16. Weimar.
(b) Tantillo, Astrida O. (2001). Goethe's Elective Affinities and the Critics (pg. 9-10). Camden House.
- Fool – Hmolpedia 2020.