Tamm was born (June 26) July 8 in 1895 in Vladivostok, the son of an engineer.
In 1898, his family moved to Elizavetgrad. After graduating from high school Tamm studied at Edinburgh University. Before the First World War, he moved to the Physics and Mathematics Faculty of Moscow State University, which he graduated in 1918 with a degree in physics.
He left as a volunteer for the front as "brother of mercy." After short-term interests in politics (a member of the Mensheviks, the deputy of the First Congress of Soviets of Elizavetgrad) began an academic career. He teaches at various academic institutions: the University of Tauride (Simferopol) (1919-1920), since 1920 he has taught at the Odessa Polytechnic Institute.
Since 1922 (with two brief interruptions) until the end of a career Tamm activity takes place in Moscow. For many years he directed the Department of Theoretical Physics at the Moscow Engineering Physics Institute (MEPI). Became a lecturer and professor. Since 1934 he has been working at the Physical Institute. USSR Academy of Sciences, founded and headed the theoretical division there, who had a great influence on the scientific work of Tamm.
February 1 1933 Tamm was elected a corresponding member of the Academy of Sciences of the USSR in the department of mathematics and natural sciences, and October 23 1953 Igor became an academician of the USSR Academy of Sciences in the department of physics and mathematics.
Tamm — an outstanding theoretical physicist. The main directions of scientific work of Tamm concern quantum mechanics, solid state physics, the theory of radiation, nuclear physics, elementary particle physics, as well as to the solution of a number of applications. Together with IM described the movement of particles in the medium at a speed greater than the speed of light in that medium (Cerenkov effect), for which in 1958 received the Nobel Prize. Winner of the Stalin Prize, first degree (1946). In 1967 he was awarded the Grand Gold Medal of the MV University.
Tamm died in Moscow 12 April in 1971 from amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, which has led to a paralysis of the respiratory muscles.