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Evgeny Mikhailovich Lifshitz was a leading Soviet
physicistA physicist is a scientist who studies or practices physics. Physicists study a wide range of physical phenomena in many branches of physics spanning all length scales: from subatomic particles of which all ordinary matter is made to the behavior of the material Universe as a whole...
of Jewish origin and the brother of physicist Ilya Mikhailovich Lifshitz. (Some commonly encountered alternative
transliterationTransliteration is a subset of the science of hermeneutics. It is a form of translation, and is the practice of converting a text from one script into another...
s of his names include Yevgeny or Evgenii and Lifshits or Lifschitz.) Lifshitz is well known in
general relativityGeneral relativity or the general theory of relativity is the geometric theory of gravitation published by Albert Einstein in 1916. It is the current description of gravitation in modern physics...
for coauthoring the
BKL conjectureA BKL singularity is a model of the dynamic evolution of the Universe near the initial singularity, described by an anisotropic, homogeneous, chaotic solution to Einstein's field equations of gravitation...
concerning the nature of a
generic curvature singularity. , this is widely regarded as one of the most important open problems in the subject of classical gravitation.
With
Lev LandauLev Davidovich Landau was a prominent Soviet physicist who made fundamental contributions to many areas of theoretical physics...
, Lifshitz coauthored
Course of Theoretical PhysicsThe Course of Theoretical Physics is a tenvolume series of books covering theoretical physics that was initiated by Lev Landau and written in collaboration with his student Evgeny Lifshitz starting in the late 1930s....
, an ambitious series of physics textbooks, in which the two aimed to provide a graduatelevel introduction to the entire field of physics. These books are still considered invaluable and continue to be widely used.
Lifshitz was the second of only 43 people ever to pass Landau's "Theoretical Minimum" examination. Landau's wife strongly criticized his scientific abilities, hinting at how much of their joint work was done by Lifshitz and how much by Landau. Despite the sniping, he is well known for many invaluable contributions, in particular to quantum electrodynamics, where he calculated the
Casimir forceIn quantum field theory, the Casimir effect and the Casimirâ€“Polder force are physical forces arising from a quantized field. The typical example is of two uncharged metallic plates in a vacuum, like capacitors placed a few micrometers apart, without any external electromagnetic field...
in an arbitrary macroscopic configuration of metals and dielectrics.
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