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Linus Pauling

Linus Pauling in 1954
Born 28 February 1901(1901-02-28)
Portland, Oregon, USA
Died 19 August 1994 (aged 93)
Big Sur, California, USA
Residence United States
Nationality American
Fields Quantum chemistry
Institutions Caltech, UCSD, Stanford
Alma mater Oregon Agricultural College
Doctoral advisor Roscoe G. Dickinson
Other academic advisors Arnold Sommerfeld
Erwin Schrödinger
Niels Bohr
Doctoral students Jerry Donohue
Martin Karplus
Matthew Meselson
Edgar Bright Wilson
William Lipscomb
Known for Elucidating the nature of chemical bonds and the structures of molecules
Advocating nuclear disarmament
Notable awards Nobel Prize in Chemistry (1954)
Nobel Peace Prize (1962)
Lenin Peace Prize (1968-1969)
The first person to win unshared Nobel Prizes in two different fields

Linus Carl Pauling (February 28, 1901 – August 19, 1994) was an American chemist, peace activist, author, and educator. He was one of the most influential chemists in history and ranks among the most important scientists in any field of the 20th century.[1][2] Pauling was among the first scientists to work in the fields of quantum chemistry, molecular biology, and orthomolecular medicine. He is one of only four individuals to have won multiple Nobel Prizes.[3] He is one of only two people to have been awarded a Nobel Prize in two different fields (the Chemistry and Peace prizes), the other being Marie Curie (the Chemistry and Physics prizes), and the only person to have been awarded each of his prizes without sharing it with another recipient.[4]




Early years

Herman Henry William Pauling c. 1900, Linus Pauling's father

Pauling was born in Portland, Oregon, as the first born child to Herman Henry William Pauling (1876–1910) and Lucy Isabelle "Belle" Darling (1881–1926).[5] He was named "Linus Carl", in honor of Lucy's father, Linus, and Herman's father, Carl.[6] Herman and Lucy—then 23 and 18 years old, respectively—had met at a dinner party in Condon. Six months later, the two were married.[7]

Herman Pauling descended from South-German farmers, who had immigrated to a German settlement in Concordia, Missouri. Carl Pauling moved his family to California before settling in Oswego. There, he worked as an ironmonger at a foundry.[8] After completing grammar school, Herman Pauling served as an apprentice to a druggist. Upon completion of his services, he became a wholesale drug salesman.[9]

Pauling's mother, Lucy, of Irish descent, was the daughter of Linus Wilson Darling, who had served as a teacher, farmer, surveyor, postmaster and lawyer at different points of his life. Linus Darling was orphaned at age 11 and apprenticed under a baker before becoming a schoolteacher. He fell in love with a young woman named Alice from Turner, Oregon, whom he eventually married.[10] On July 17, 1888, Alice gave birth to the couple's fifth child, but he was stillborn. Less than a month later, she died, leaving Darling to take care of their four young daughters.[11]

Linus Pauling spent his first year living in a one-room apartment with his parents in Portland. In 1902, after his sister Pauline was born, Pauling's parents decided to move out of the city.[12] They were crowded in their apartment, but couldn't afford more spacious living quarters in Portland. Lucy stayed with her husband's parents in Oswego, while Herman searched for new housing. Herman brought the family to Salem, where he took up a job as a traveling salesman for the Skidmore Drug Company. Within a year of Lucile's birth in 1904, Herman Pauling moved his family to Oswego, where he opened his own drugstore.[12] The business climate in Oswego was poor, so he moved his family to Condon in 1905.[13]

In 1909, Pauling's grandfather, Linus, divorced his second wife and married a young schoolteacher, almost the same age as his daughter Lucy. A few months later, he died of a heart attack, brought on by complications from nephritis.[14] Meanwhile, Herman Pauling was suffering from poor health and had regular sharp pains in his abdomen. Lucy's sister, Abbie, saw that Herman was dying and immediately called the family physician. The doctor gave Herman a sedative to reduce the pain, but it only offered temporary relief.[15] His health worsened in the coming months and finally died of a perforated ulcer on June 11, 1910, leaving Lucy to care for Linus, Lucile and Pauline.[16]

Linus was a voracious reader as a child, and at one point his father wrote a letter to The Oregonian inviting suggestions of additional books to occupy his time.[17] Pauling first planned to become a chemist after being amazed by experiments conducted with a small chemistry lab kit by his friend, Lloyd A. Jeffress.[18] In high school, Pauling continued to conduct chemistry experiments, borrowing much of the equipment and material from an abandoned steel plant. With an older friend, Lloyd Simon, Pauling set up Palmon Laboratories. Operating from Simon's basement, the two young adults approached local dairies to offer their services in performing butterfat samplings at cheap prices. Dairymen were wary of trusting two young boys with the task, and as such, the business ended as a failure.[19]

By the fall of 1916, Pauling was a 15-year-old high school senior and had enough credits to enter Oregon Agricultural College (OAC, now known as Oregon State University) in Corvallis.[20] However, he did not have enough credits for two required American history courses that would satisfy his requirement to earn a high school diploma. He asked the school principal if he could take these courses concurrently during the spring semester. The principal denied his request, and Pauling decided to leave the school in June without a diploma.[21] His high school, Washington High School in Portland, awarded him the diploma 45 years later, after he had won two Nobel Prizes.[22][23] During the summer, Pauling worked part-time at a grocery store, earning eight dollars a week. His mother set him up with an interview with a Mr. Schwietzerhoff, the owner of a number of manufacturing plants in Portland. Pauling was hired as an apprentice machinist with a salary of 40 dollars a month. Pauling excelled at his job, and saw his salary increase to 50 dollars a month after being on the job for only a month.[24] In his spare time, he set up a photography lab with two friends and found business from a local photography company. He hoped that the business would earn him enough money to pay for his future college expenses.[25] Pauling received a letter of admission from OAC in September 1917 and immediately gave notice to his boss and told his mother of his plans.[26]

Higher education

Pauling's graduation photo from Oregon Agricultural College in 1922

In October 1917, Pauling entered Oregon Agricultural College and lived in a boarding house on campus with his cousin Mervyn and another man, using the $200 he had saved from odd jobs to finance his education. In his first semester, Pauling registered for two courses in chemistry, two in mathematics, mechanical drawing, introduction to mining and use of explosives, modern English prose, gymnastics and military drill.[27] Pauling fell in love with a freshman girl named Irene early in the school year. By the end of October, he had used up $150 of his savings on her, taking her to shows and games. He soon got a job at the girls' dormitory, working 100 hours a month chopping wood for stoves, cutting up beef and mopping up the kitchen. Despite the 25 cent per hour salary, Pauling was still having trouble managing his finances. He began eating one hot meal a day at a restaurant off campus to minimize his expenses.[27] Pauling was active in campus life and founded the school's chapter of the Delta Upsilon fraternity.[28] After his second year, he planned to take a job in Portland to help support his mother, but the college offered him a position teaching quantitative analysis, a course he had just finished taking himself. He worked forty hours a week in the laboratory and classroom and earned $100 a month.[29] This allowed him to continue his studies at the college.

In his last two years at school, Pauling became aware of the work of Gilbert N. Lewis and Irving Langmuir on the electronic structure of atoms and their bonding to form molecules.[29] He decided to focus his research on how the physical and chemical properties of substances are related to the structure of the atoms of which they are composed, becoming one of the founders of the new science of quantum chemistry. Pauling began to neglect his studies in humanities and social sciences. He had also exhausted the course offerings in the physics and mathematics departments. Professor Samuel Graf selected Pauling to be his teaching assistant in a high-level mathematics course.[30] During the winter of his senior year, Pauling was approached by the college to teach a chemistry course for home economics majors. It was in one of these classes that Pauling met his future wife, Ava Helen Miller.[31]

In 1922, Pauling graduated from OAC with a degree in chemical engineering and went on to graduate school at the California Institute of Technology (Caltech) in Pasadena, California, under the guidance of Roscoe G. Dickinson. His graduate research involved the use of X-ray diffraction to determine the structure of crystals. He published seven papers on the crystal structure of minerals while he was at Caltech. He received his Ph. D. in physical chemistry and mathematical physics, summa cum laude, in 1925.

Personal life

During his senior year of college, Pauling taught a class called "Chemistry for Home Economic Majors".[32] In one of those classes, he met Ava Helen Miller from Beavercreek, whom he married on June 17, 1923. They had four children: Linus Carl Jr. (b. 1925); Peter Jeffress (1931–2003, a crystallographer and lecturer in chemistry); Edward Crellin (1937–1997, professor of biology at San Francisco State University and the University of California, Riverside), and Linda Helen, (b. 1932).

Pauling was raised as a member of the Lutheran Church, but later joined the Unitarian Universalist Church and publicly declared his atheism two years before his death.[33]


Pauling had first been exposed to the concepts of quantum theory and quantum mechanics while he was studying at Oregon State University. He later traveled to Europe on a Guggenheim Fellowship, which was awarded to him in 1926, to study under German physicist Arnold Sommerfeld in Munich, Danish physicist Niels Bohr in Copenhagen, and Austrian physicist Erwin Schrödinger in Zürich. All three were experts working in the new field of quantum mechanics and other branches of physics. Pauling became interested in seeing how quantum mechanics might be applied in his chosen field of interest, the electronic structure of atoms and molecules. In Europe, Pauling was also exposed to one of the first quantum mechanical analyses of bonding in the hydrogen molecule, done by Walter Heitler and Fritz London. Pauling devoted the two years of his European trip to this work and decided to make it the focus of his future research. He became one of the first scientists in the field of quantum chemistry and a pioneer in the application of quantum theory to the structure of molecules. He also joined Alpha Chi Sigma, the professional chemistry fraternity.

In 1927, Pauling took a new position as an assistant professor at Caltech in theoretical chemistry. He launched his faculty career with a very productive five years, continuing with his X-ray crystal studies and also performing quantum mechanical calculations on atoms and molecules. He published approximately fifty papers in those five years, and created five rules now known as Pauling's Rules. By 1929, he was promoted to associate professor, and by 1930, to full professor. In 1931, the American Chemical Society awarded Pauling the Langmuir Prize for the most significant work in pure science by a person 30 years of age or younger.[34] The following year, Pauling published what he regarded as his most important paper, in which he first laid out the concept of hybridization of atomic orbitals and analyzed the tetravalency of the carbon atom.[35]

At Caltech, Pauling struck up a close friendship with theoretical physicist Robert Oppenheimer, who was spending part of his research and teaching schedule away from U.C. Berkeley at Caltech every year. The two men planned to mount a joint attack on the nature of the chemical bond: apparently Oppenheimer would supply the mathematics and Pauling would interpret the results. However, their relationship soured when Pauling began to suspect that Oppenheimer was becoming too close to Pauling's wife, Ava Helen. Once, when Pauling was at work, Oppenheimer had come to their place and blurted out an invitation to Ava Helen to join him on a tryst in Mexico.[36] Although she flatly refused, she reported the incident to Pauling. Disquieted by this strange chemistry, and her apparent nonchalance about the incident, he immediately cut off his relationship with Oppenheimer.

In the summer of 1930, Pauling made another European trip, during which he learned about the use of electrons in diffraction studies similar to the ones he had performed with X-rays. After returning, he built an electron diffraction instrument at Caltech with a student of his, L. O. Brockway, and used it to study the molecular structure of a large number of chemical substances.

Pauling introduced the concept of electronegativity in 1932. Using the various properties of molecules, such as the energy required to break bonds and the dipole moments of molecules, he established a scale and an associated numerical value for most of the elements—the Pauling Electronegativity Scale—which is useful in predicting the nature of bonds between atoms in molecules.


Pauling had been practically apolitical until World War II, but the aftermath of the war and his wife's pacifism changed his life profoundly, and he became a peace activist. During the beginning of the Manhattan Project, Robert Oppenheimer invited him to be in charge of the Chemistry division of the project, but he declined, not wanting to uproot his family. He did work on other projects that had military applications such as explosives, rocket propellants, an oxygen meter for submarines and patented an armor piercing shell and was awarded a Presidential Medal of Merit.[37][38] In 1946, he joined the Emergency Committee of Atomic Scientists, chaired by Albert Einstein.[39] Its mission was to warn the public of the dangers associated with the development of nuclear weapons. His political activism prompted the U.S. State Department to deny him a passport in 1952, when he was invited to speak at a scientific conference in London.[40][41] His passport was restored in 1954, shortly before the ceremony in Stockholm where he received his first Nobel Prize. Joining Einstein, Bertrand Russell and eight other leading scientists and intellectuals, he signed the Russell-Einstein Manifesto in 1955.[42]

In 1958, Pauling joined a petition drive in cooperation with the founders of the St. Louis Citizen's Committee for Nuclear Information (CNI). This group, headed by Washington University professors Barry Commoner, Eric Reiss, M. W. Friedlander, and John Fowler, set up a study of radioactive strontium-90 in the baby teeth of children across North America. The "Baby Tooth Survey," headed by Dr. Louise Z. Reiss, demonstrated conclusively in 1961 that above-ground nuclear testing posed significant public health risks in the form of radioactive fallout spread primarily via milk from cows that had ingested contaminated grass.[43][44][45] Pauling also participated in a public debate with the atomic physicist Edward Teller about the actual probability of fallout causing mutations.[46] In 1958, Pauling and his wife presented the United Nations with the petition signed by more than 11,000 scientists calling for an end to nuclear-weapon testing. Public pressure and the frightening results of the CNI research subsequently led to a moratorium on above-ground nuclear weapons testing, followed by the Partial Test Ban Treaty, signed in 1963 by John F. Kennedy and Nikita Khrushchev. On the day that the treaty went into force, the Nobel Prize Committee awarded Pauling the Nobel Peace Prize, describing him as "Linus Carl Pauling, who ever since 1946 has campaigned ceaselessly, not only against nuclear weapons tests, not only against the spread of these armaments, not only against their very use, but against all warfare as a means of solving international conflicts."[47] The Committee for Nuclear Information was never credited for its significant contribution to the test ban, nor was the ground-breaking research conducted by Dr. Reiss and the "Baby Tooth Survey". The Caltech Chemistry Department, wary of his political views, did not even formally congratulate him. They did throw him a small party, showing they were more appreciative and sympathetic toward his work on radiation mutation. At Caltech he founded Sigma Xi's (The Scientific Research Society) chapter at the school, as he had previously been a member of that organisation. He continued his peace activism in the following years co-founding the International League of Humanists in 1974. He was president of the scientific advisory board of the World Union for Protection of Life and also one of the signers of the Dubrovnik-Philadelphia Statement.

Many of Pauling's critics, including scientists who appreciated the contributions that he had made in chemistry, disagreed with his political positions and saw him as a naive spokesman for Soviet communism. He was ordered to appear before the Senate Internal Security Subcommittee, which termed him "the number one scientific name in virtually every major activity of the Communist peace offensive in this country." An extraordinary headline in Life magazine characterized his 1962 Nobel Prize as "A Weird Insult from Norway". Pauling was awarded the International Lenin Peace Prize by the USSR in 1970.[48]

Biological molecules

Double Helix
William Astbury
Oswald Avery
Francis Crick
Erwin Chargaff
Max Delbrück
Jerry Donohue
Rosalind Franklin
Raymond Gosling
Phoebus Levene
Linus Pauling
Sir John Randall
Erwin Schrödinger
Alex Stokes
James Watson
Maurice Wilkins
Herbert Wilson

In the mid-1930s, Pauling, strongly influenced by the biologically oriented funding priorities of the Rockefeller Foundation's Warren Weaver, decided to strike out into new areas of interest. Although Pauling's early interest had focused almost exclusively on inorganic molecular structures, he had occasionally thought about molecules of biological importance, in part because of Caltech's growing strength in biology. Pauling interacted with such great biologists as Thomas Hunt Morgan, Theodosius Dobzhanski, Calvin Bridges, and Alfred Sturtevant. His early work in this area included studies of the structure of hemoglobin. He demonstrated that the hemoglobin molecule changes structure when it gains or loses an oxygen atom. As a result of this observation, he decided to conduct a more thorough study of protein structure in general. He returned to his earlier use of X-ray diffraction analysis. But protein structures were far less amenable to this technique than the crystalline minerals of his former work. The best X-ray pictures of proteins in the 1930s had been made by the British crystallographer William Astbury, but when Pauling tried, in 1937, to account for Astbury's observations quantum mechanically, he could not.

It took eleven years for Pauling to explain the problem: his mathematical analysis was correct, but Astbury's pictures were taken in such a way that the protein molecules were tilted from their expected positions. Pauling had formulated a model for the structure of hemoglobin in which atoms were arranged in a helical pattern, and applied this idea to proteins in general.

In 1951, based on the structures of amino acids and peptides and the planarity of the peptide bond, Pauling, Robert Corey, and Herman Branson correctly proposed the alpha helix and beta sheet as the primary structural motifs in protein secondary structure. This work exemplified Pauling's ability to think unconventionally; central to the structure was the unorthodox assumption that one turn of the helix may well contain a non-integral number of amino acid residues.

Pauling then proposed that deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA) was a triple helix;[49] however, his model contained several basic mistakes, including a proposal of neutral phosphate groups, an idea that conflicted with the acidity of DNA. Sir Lawrence Bragg had been disappointed that Pauling had won the race to find the alpha helix structure of proteins. Bragg's team had made a fundamental error in making their models of protein by not recognizing the planar nature of the peptide bond. When it was learned at the Cavendish Laboratory that Pauling was working on molecular models of the structure of DNA, Watson and Crick were allowed to make a molecular model of DNA using unpublished data from Maurice Wilkins and Rosalind Franklin at King's College. Early in 1953 James D. Watson and Francis Crick proposed a correct structure for the DNA double helix. Pauling later cited several reasons to explain how he had been misled about the structure of DNA, among them misleading density data and the lack of high quality X-ray diffraction photographs. During the time Pauling was researching the problem, Rosalind Franklin in England was creating the world's best images. They were key to Watson's and Crick's success. Pauling did not see them before devising his mistaken DNA structure, although his assistant Robert Corey did see at least some of them, while taking Pauling's place at a summer 1952 protein conference in England. Pauling had been prevented from attending because his passport was withheld by the State Department on suspicion that he had Communist sympathies. This led to the legend that Pauling missed the structure of DNA because of the politics of the day (this was at the start of the McCarthy period in the United States).[50] Politics did not, however, play a critical role. Not only did Corey see the images at the time, but Pauling himself regained his passport within a few weeks and toured English laboratories well before writing his DNA paper. He had ample opportunity to visit Franklin's lab and see her work, but chose not to.[51]

Pauling also studied enzyme reactions and was among the first to point out that enzymes bring about reactions by stabilizing the transition state of the reaction, a view which is central to understanding their mechanism of action. He was also among the first scientists to postulate that the binding of antibodies to antigens would be due to a complementarity between their structures. Along the same lines, with the physicist turned biologist Max Delbruck, he wrote an early paper arguing that DNA replication was likely to be due to complementarity, rather than similarity, as suggested by a few researchers. This was made clear in the model of the structure of DNA that Watson and Crick discovered.

Molecular genetics

In November 1949, Linus Pauling, Harvey Itano, S. J. Singer and Ibert Wells published "Sickle Cell Anemia, a Molecular Disease"[52] in the journal Science. It was the first proof of a human disease caused by an abnormal protein, and sickle cell anemia became the first disease understood at the molecular level. Using electrophoresis, they demonstrated that individuals with sickle cell disease had a modified form of hemoglobin in their red blood cells, and that individuals with sickle cell trait had both the normal and abnormal forms of hemoglobin. This was also the first demonstration that Mendelian inheritance determined the specific physical properties of proteins, not simply their presence or absence—the dawn of molecular genetics.

Molecular medicine and medical research

In 1941, at age 40, Pauling was diagnosed with Bright’s disease, a renal disease. Experts believed then that Bright's disease was untreatable.[citation needed] With the help of Dr. Thomas Addis at Stanford, Pauling was able to control the disease with Addis' then unusual, low protein, salt-free diet.[citation needed] Addis also prescribed vitamins and minerals for all his patients.[citation needed]

In 1951, Pauling gave a lecture entitled, "Molecular Medicine".[53] In the late 1950s, Pauling worked on the role of enzymes in brain function, believing that mental illness may be partly caused by enzyme dysfunction. It wasn't until he read "Niacin Therapy in Psychiatry" by Abram Hoffer in 1965 that he realized that vitamins might have important biochemical effects unrelated to their prevention of associated deficiency diseases.[citation needed] Pauling published a brief paper, "Orthomolecular psychiatry", in the journal Science in 1968 (PMID 5641253) that gave name and principle to the popular but controversial megavitamin therapy movement of the 1970s. Pauling coined the term "orthomolecular" to refer to the practice of varying the concentration of substances normally present in the body to prevent and treat disease. His ideas formed the basis of orthomolecular medicine, which is not generally practiced by conventional medical professionals and is strongly criticized by some.[54][55]

Pauling's work on vitamin C in his later years generated much controversy. He was first introduced to the concept of high-dose vitamin C by biochemist Irwin Stone in 1966. After becoming convinced of its worth, Pauling took 3 grams of vitamin C every day to prevent colds (Dunitz 1996:333). Excited by the results, he researched the clinical literature and published Vitamin C and the Common Cold in 1970. He began a long clinical collaboration with the British cancer surgeon Ewan Cameron in 1971 on the use of intravenous and oral vitamin C as cancer therapy for terminal patients.[56] Cameron and Pauling wrote many technical papers and a popular book, "Cancer and Vitamin C", that discussed their observations. Pauling made vitamin C popular with the public, but the medical establishment regarded his claims that vitamin C could prevent colds and cure cancer as quackery (Dunitz 1996:333), and considered the case closed after two randomized trials conducted by the Mayo Clinic and published in the New England Journal of Medicine failed to replicate[57] Pauling's study, which found that vitamin C supplementation lengthened survival times significantly.[58] Pauling denounced the conclusions of these studies and handling of the final study as "fraud and deliberate misrepresentation."[59][60] Pauling's original study, based on the observational studies of intravenous vitamin C by McCormick and Klenner, used intravenous vitamin C for the first ten days, but the randomized trials did not.[57] Pauling published critiques of the second Mayo-Moertel cancer trial's flaws over several years as he was able to slowly unearth some of the trial's undisclosed details.[61] However, the wave of adverse publicity generated by Moertel and the media effectively undercut Pauling's credibility and his vitamin C work for a generation,[62] and the oncological mainstream continued with other avenues of treatment.[63] Always precariously perched since his molecular biologically inspired crusade to stop atmospheric nuclear testing in the 1950s,[64] the 1985 Mayo-Moertel confrontation left Pauling isolated from his institutional funding sources, academic support and a bemused public. However, Pauling did have allies in his cause to promote vitamin C. He worked with The Institutes for the Achievement of Human Potential, an organization that treats brain-injured children, to advocate the use of the vitamin."[65] He later collaborated with the Canadian physician Abram Hoffer on a micronutrient regimen, including high-dose vitamin C, as adjunctive cancer therapy.[66] Of late the "connection between vitamin C and cancer has become a respectable topic", and it was the subject of a Washington DC NIH conference in 1990 (Dunitz 1996:334).

Linus Pauling's book How to Live Longer and Feel Better, advocated very high intake of vitamins.

As of 2007, new evidence was proposed by a Canadian group showing that intravenous vitamin C can achieve plasma concentrations up to 70-fold higher than oral vitamin C.[67] The selective toxicity of vitamin C for cancer cells has been demonstrated in-vitro (i.e., in a cell culture Petri dish), and was reported in 2005.[68] The combination of case-report data and preclinical information suggest biological plausibility and the possibility of clinical efficacy at the possible expense of critical toxicity at active doses; future clinical testing will ultimately determine the utility and safety of intravenous high-dose vitamin C treatments for patients with cancer. Though limited in scope, researchers also observed longer-than expected survival times in three patients treated with high doses of intravenous vitamin C.[69] The researchers are reportedly planning a new Phase I clinical trial.[70]

With two colleagues, Pauling founded the Institute of Orthomolecular Medicine in Menlo Park, California, in 1973, which was soon renamed the Linus Pauling Institute of Science and Medicine. Pauling directed research on vitamin C, but also continued his theoretical work in chemistry and physics until his death. In his last years, he became especially interested in the possible role of vitamin C in preventing atherosclerosis and published three case reports on the use of lysine and vitamin C to relieve angina pectoris. In 1996, the Linus Pauling Institute moved from Palo Alto, California, to Corvallis, Oregon, to become part of Oregon State University, where it continues to conduct research on micronutrients, phytochemicals (chemicals from plants), and other constituents of the diet in preventing and treating disease. Several of the employees that had previously worked at the Linus Pauling Institute in Palo Alto moved on to form the Genetic Information Research Institute.

Nature of the chemical bond

In the late 1920s Pauling began publishing papers on the nature of the chemical bond, leading to his famous textbook on the subject published in 1939. It is based primarily on his work in this area that he received the Nobel Prize in Chemistry in 1954 "for his research into the nature of the chemical bond and its application to the elucidation of the structure of complex substances". Pauling summarized his work on the chemical bond in The Nature of the Chemical Bond, one of the most influential chemistry books ever published.[71] In the 30 years after its first edition was published in 1939, the book was cited more than 16,000 times. Even today, many modern scientific papers and articles in important journals cite this work, more than half a century after first publication.

Part of Pauling's work on the nature of the chemical bond led to his introduction of the concept of orbital hybridization.[72] While it is normal to think of the electrons in an atom as being described by orbitals of types such as s and p, it turns out that in describing the bonding in molecules, it is better to construct functions that partake of some of the properties of each. Thus the one 2s and three 2p orbitals in a carbon atom can be combined to make four equivalent orbitals (called sp³ hybrid orbitals), which would be the appropriate orbitals to describe carbon compounds such as methane, or the 2s orbital may be combined with two of the 2p orbitals to make three equivalent orbitals (called sp² hybrid orbitals), with the remaining 2p orbital unhybridized, which would be the appropriate orbitals to describe certain unsaturated carbon compounds such as ethylene. Other hybridization schemes are also found in other types of molecules.

Another area which he explored was the relationship between ionic bonding, where electrons are transferred between atoms, and covalent bonding where electrons are shared between atoms on an equal basis. Pauling showed that these were merely extremes, between which most actual cases of bonding fall. It was here especially that Pauling's electronegativity concept was particularly useful; the electronegativity difference between a pair of atoms will be the surest predictor of the degree of ionicity of the bond.[73]

The third of the topics that Pauling attacked under the overall heading of "the nature of the chemical bond" was the accounting of the structure of aromatic hydrocarbons, particularly the prototype, benzene.[74] The best description of benzene had been made by the German chemist Friedrich Kekulé. He had treated it as a rapid interconversion between two structures, each with alternating single and double bonds, but with the double bonds of one structure in the locations where the single bonds were in the other. Pauling showed that a proper description based on quantum mechanics was an intermediate structure which was a blend of each. The structure was a superposition of structures rather than a rapid interconversion between them. The name "resonance" was later applied to this phenomenon.[75] In a sense, this phenomenon resembles that of hybridization, described earlier, because it involves combining more than one electronic structure to achieve an intermediate result.

Structure of the atomic nucleus

On September 16, 1952, Pauling opened a new research notebook with these words "I have decided to attack the problem of the structure of nuclei."[76] On October 15, 1965, Pauling published his Close-Packed Spheron Model of the atomic nucleus in two well respected journals, Science, and Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci..[77] For nearly three decades, until his death in 1994, Pauling published numerous papers on his spheron cluster model.[78][79][80][81][82][83]

Few modern text books on nuclear physics discuss the Pauling Spheron Model of the Atomic Nucleus, yet it provides a unique perspective, well published in the leading journals of science, on how fundamental "clusters of nucleons" can form shell structure in agreement with recognized theory of quantum mechanics. Pauling was well versed in quantum mechanics; he co-authored one of the first textbooks on the subject, Introduction to Quantum Mechanics with Applications to Chemistry. In a 2006 review of models of atomic nuclei, Norman D. Cook said of the Pauling Spheron Model: "...the model leads to a rather common-sense molecular build-up of nuclei and has an internal logic that is hard to deny...however, despite two decades of advocacy by Pauling, nuclear theorists have not elaborated on the idea of nucleon spherons, and Pauling's model has not entered mainstream nuclear theory."[84] Taken at face value, the conclusions of Norman Cook imply that the 1965 Pauling Spheron Model of the atomic nucleus has simply been ignored.

The Pauling spheron nucleon clusters include the deuteron[NP], helion [PNP], and triton [NPN]. Even-even nuclei were described as being composed of clusters of alpha particles, as has often been done for light nuclei. He made an effort to derive the shell structure of nuclei from the Platonic solids rather than starting from an independent particle model as in the usual shell model. It was sometimes said at that time that this work received more attention than it would have if it had been done by a less famous person, but more likely Pauling was taking a unique approach to understanding the relatively new discovery in the late 1940s of Maria Goeppert-Mayer of structure within the nucleus. In an interview given in 1990 Pauling commented on his model:[85]

Now recently, I have been trying to determine detailed structures of atomic nuclei by analyzing the ground state and excited state vibrational bends, as observed experimentally. From reading the physics literature, Physical Review Letters and other journals, I know that many physicists are interested in atomic nuclei, but none of them, so far as I have been able to discover, has been attacking the problem in the same way that I attack it. So I just move along at my own speed, making calculations...


Pauling died of prostate cancer on August 19, 1994, at 7:20 PM at home in Big Sur, California. He was 93 years old.[86][87] A grave marker for him is in Oswego Pioneer Cemetery in Lake Oswego, Oregon.[87][88]

Pauling was included in a list of the 20 greatest scientists of all time by the magazine New Scientist, with Albert Einstein being the only other scientist from the twentieth century on the list. Gautam R. Desiraju, the author of the Millennium Essay in Nature,[89] claimed that Pauling was one of the greatest thinkers and visionaries of the millennium, along with Galileo, Newton, and Einstein. Pauling is notable for the diversity of his interests: quantum mechanics, inorganic chemistry, organic chemistry, protein structure, molecular biology, and medicine. In all these fields, and especially on the boundaries between them, he made decisive contributions. His work on chemical bonding marks the beginning of modern quantum chemistry, and many of his contributions like hybridization and electronegativity have become part of standard chemistry textbooks. His valence bond approach fell short of accounting quantitatively for some of the characteristics of molecules, such as the paramagnetic nature of oxygen and the color of organometallic complexes, and would later be superseded by the Molecular Orbital Theory of Robert Mulliken. However, the Valence Bond theory still exists in its modern form and competes with the Molecular Orbital Theory and Density Functional Theory (DFT) for describing the chemical phenomena.[90] Pauling's work on crystal structure contributed significantly to the prediction and elucidation of the structures of complex minerals and compounds.[citation needed] His discovery of the alpha helix and beta sheet is a fundamental foundation for the study of protein structure.[citation needed]

Francis Crick acknowledged Pauling as the "father of molecular biology". His discovery of sickle cell anemia as a "molecular disease" opened the way toward examining genetically acquired mutations at a molecular level.[citation needed]

Pauling's work on the molecular basis of disease and its treatment is being carried on by a number of researchers, notably those at the Linus Pauling Institute, which lists a dozen principal investigators and faculty who study the role of micronutrients and phytochemicals in health and disease.

Items named after Pauling include "Pauling" street located in Foothill Ranch, California (notably once home to vitamin C/Emergen-C maker Alacer Corp. Founder Jay Patrick was a friend of Linus Pauling.), Linus Pauling Drive in Hercules, California, Linus and Eva Helen Pauling Hall at Soka University of America in Aliso Viejo, California, Linus Pauling Middle School in Corvallis, Oregon, and Pauling Field a small airfield located in Condon, Oregon. Dr. Pauling spent his youth in Condon. Additionally, one wing of the Valley Library at Oregon State University bears his name.

Linus Torvalds, developer of the Linux kernel, is named after Pauling.[91]

On March 6, 2008, the United States Postal Service released a 41 cent stamp honoring Pauling.[92] His description reads: "A remarkably versatile scientist, structural chemist Linus Pauling (1901–1994) won the 1954 Nobel Prize in Chemistry for determining the nature of the chemical bond linking atoms into molecules. His work in establishing the field of molecular biology; his studies of hemoglobin led to the classification of sickle cell anemia as a molecular disease." The other scientists on this sheet include Gerty Cori, biochemist, Edwin Hubble, astronomer, and John Bardeen, physicist.

California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger and First Lady Maria Shriver announced on May 28, 2008 that Pauling would be inducted into the California Hall of Fame, located at The California Museum for History, Women and the Arts. The induction ceremony was scheduled to take place December 15, 2008. Pauling's son was asked to accept the honor in his place.

Pauling appears in the 2006 novel Visibility by Boris Starling, who later named his son Linus.

Honors and awards

Pauling received numerous awards and honors during his career. Following are awards and honors he has received.[93]


  • Pauling, L. The Nature of the Chemical Bond. Cornell University Press ISBN 0-8014-0333-2
  • Pauling, L., and Wilson, E. B. Introduction to Quantum Mechanics with Applications to Chemistry (Dover Publications) ISBN 0-486-64871-0
  • Pauling, L. Vitamin C, the Common Cold and the Flu (W.H. Freeman and Company) ISBN 0-7167-0360-2
  • Cameron E. and Pauling, L. Cancer and Vitamin C: A Discussion of the Nature, Causes, Prevention, and Treatment of Cancer With Special Reference to the Value of Vitamin C (Camino Books) ISBN 0-940159-21-X
  • Pauling, L. How to Live Longer and Feel Better (Avon Books) ISBN 0-380-70289-4
  • Pauling, L. Linus Pauling On Peace - A Scientist Speaks Out on Humanism and World Survival (Rising Star Press) ISBN 0-933670-03-6
  • Pauling, L. General Chemistry (Dover Publications) ISBN 0-486-65622-5
  • A Lifelong Quest for Peace with Daisaku Ikeda
  • Pauling, L. The Architecture of Molecules
  • Pauling, L. No More War!
  • Abram Hoffer and Pauling, L. Healing Cancer. Complementary Vitamin & Drug Treatments (CCNM Press Inc.)

See also


  1. ^
  2. ^
  3. ^ Marie Curie, John Bardeen and Frederick Sanger are the others. As Watson attests, Pauling also came close to being the discoverer of DNA's structure for which Francis Crick, James Watson and Maurice Wilkins received the prize.
  4. ^ Dunitz, p. 222.
  5. ^ Hager, p. 22.
  6. ^ Mead and Hager, p. 8.
  7. ^ Goertzel and Goertzel, p. 1.
  8. ^ Goertzel and Goertzel, p. 2.
  9. ^ Hager, p. 21.
  10. ^ Goertzel and Goertzel, p. 6.
  11. ^ Hager, p. 24.
  12. ^ a b Goertzel and Goertzel, p. 4.
  13. ^ Goertzel and Goertzel, p. 5.
  14. ^ Goertzel and Goertzel, p. 12.
  15. ^ Goertzel and Goertzel, p. 13.
  16. ^ Mead and Hager, p. 9.
  17. ^ Dunitz, p. 223.
  18. ^ Goertzel and Goertzel, p. 17.
  19. ^ Goertzel and Goertzel, p. 21.
  20. ^ Goertzel and Goertzel, p. 22.
  21. ^ Hager, p. 48.
  22. ^ "Linus Pauling – Biography". Nobel Foundation. Retrieved 2007-08-05. 
  23. ^ Bourgoin, Suzanne M.; Paula K. Byers (1998). Encyclopedia of World Biography. Thomson Gale. Vol. 12, p. 150. ISBN 0787622214. 
  24. ^ Goertzel and Goertzel, p. 23.
  25. ^ Goertzel and Goertzel, p. 24.
  26. ^ Goertzel and Goertzel, p. 25.
  27. ^ a b Goertzel and Goertzel, p. 26.
  28. ^ Swanson, Stephen (2000-10-03). "OSU fraternity to donate Pauling treasures to campus library". Oregon State University. Retrieved 2008-03-11. 
  29. ^ a b Goertzel and Goertzel, p. 29.
  30. ^ Goertzel and Goertzel, p. 30.
  31. ^ Goertzel and Goertzel, p. 31.
  32. ^ Linus Pauling Institute. "Linus Pauling: A Biographical Timeline". Retrieved 2007-08-05. 
  33. ^ "... I [Pauling] am not, however, militant in my atheism. The great English theoretical physicist Paul Dirac is a militant atheist. I suppose he is interested in arguing about the existence of God. I am not. It was once quipped that there is no God and Dirac is his prophet." Linus Pauling & Daisaku Ikeda (1992). A Lifelong Quest for Peace: A Dialogue. Jones & Bartlett. pp. 22. ISBN 0867202777. 
  34. ^ Tom Hager (December 2004). ""The Langmuir Prize"". Oregon State University Libraries Special Collections. Retrieved 2008-02-29. 
  35. ^ Linus Pauling (March 1932). ""The nature of the chemical bond. III. The transition from one extreme bond type to another."". Journal of the American Chemical Society. Retrieved 2008-02-29. 
  36. ^ Thomas Hager (1995). Force of Nature: The Life of Linus Pauling. Simon & Schuster. ISBN 0684809095. , pp. 152
  37. ^ "The Linus Pauling Papers: Biographical Information". United States National Library of Medicine. Retrieved 2008-02-11. 
  38. ^ Paulus, John Allen (1995-11-05). "Pauling's Prizes". New York Times. Retrieved 2007-12-09. 
  39. ^ Thomas Hager (November 29, 2007). "Einstein". Oregon State University Libraries Special Collections. Retrieved 2007-12-13. 
  40. ^ "Linus Pauling". Retrieved 2007-12-11. "[In] January of 1952, Pauling requested a passport to attend a meeting in England ... The passport was denied because granting it "would not be in the best interest of the United States." He applied again and wrote President Eisenhower, asking him to arrange the issuance of the passport since, "I am a loyal citizen of the United States. I have never been guilty of any unpatriotic or criminal act."" 
  41. ^ Linus Pauling (May 1952). "The Department of State and the Structure of Proteins". Oregon State University Libraries Special Collections. Retrieved 2007-12-13. 
  42. ^ Thomas Hager (November 29, 2007). "Russell/Einstein". Oregon State University Libraries Special Collections. Retrieved 2007-12-13. 
  43. ^ Louise Zibold Reiss (November 24, 1961). "Strontium-90 Absorption by Deciduous Teeth: Analysis of teeth provides a practicable method of monitoring strontium-90 uptake by human populations". Science. Retrieved 2009-10-13. 
  44. ^ Thomas Hager (November 29, 2007). "Strontium-90". Oregon State University Libraries Special Collections. Retrieved 2007-12-13. 
  45. ^ Thomas Hager (November 29, 2007). "The Right to Petition". Oregon State University Libraries Special Collections. Retrieved 2007-12-13. 
  46. ^ Linus Pauling; Edward Teller (1958). "Teller vs. Pauling". Oregon State University Libraries Special Collections. Retrieved 2007-12-13. 
  47. ^ Linus Pauling (1963-10-10). "Notes by Linus Pauling. October 10, 1963.". Oregon State University Libraries Special Collections. Retrieved 2007-12-13. 
  48. ^ Stephen F Mason (July 1999). "The Science and Humanism of Linus Pauling (1901-1994).". Ciencia Abierta. Retrieved 2009-08-04. 
  49. ^ "Linus Pauling's DNA Model". Retrieved 2007-08-06. 
  50. ^ "Pauling biography citing State Department's revocation of Pauling's passport in 1952". Retrieved 2007-12-11. 
  51. ^ Hager, Thomas (1995). Force of Nature: The Life of Linus Pauling. Simon & Schuster. ISBN 0684809095. , pp. 414–415
  52. ^ Pauling, Linus; Harvey Itano, S. J. Singer, Ibert Wells (November 1949). "Sickle Cell Anemia, a Molecular Disease". Science. Retrieved 2007-08-05. 
  53. ^ Pauling, Linus (October 1951). "Molecular Medicine". Ava Helen and Linus Pauling Papers. Retrieved 2007-08-05. 
  54. ^ Cassileth, BR (1998:67). Alternative Medicine Handbook: the Complete Reference Guide to Alternative and Complementary Therapies. New York: W.W. Norton & Co.. 
  55. ^ "Vitamin Therapy, Megadose / Orthomolecular Therapy". BC Cancer Agency. February 2000. Retrieved 2007-08-05. 
  56. ^ Ewan Cameron M.D.. "Cancer bibliography". Retrieved 2007-08-05. 
  57. ^ a b Chen Q et al. (2007). Ascorbate in pharmacologic concentrations selectively generates ascorbate radical and hydrogen peroxide in extracellular fluid in vivo. Proceedings for the National Academy of Sciences. See reference to citations 5,6, and 7.
  58. ^ Cameron E, Pauling L (1978) Supplemental Ascorbate in the Supportive Treatment of Cancer: Reevaluation of Prolongation of Survival Times in Terminal Human Cancer
  59. ^ Ted Goertzel (1996). "Analyzing Pauling's Personality: A Three Generational, Three Decade Project". Special Collections, Oregon State University Libraries. Retrieved 2007-08-05. 
  60. ^ (2005), University of Chicago Press, ISBN 0-226-11366-3, Excerpt from pages 89–111
  61. ^ Mark Levine; Sebastian J. Padayatty, Hugh D. Riordan, Stephen M. Hewitt, Arie Katz, L. John Hoffer (2006-03-28). "Intravenously administered vitamin C as cancer therapy: three cases". CMA Media. Retrieved 2007-08-05. 
  62. ^ "Intravenous Vitamin C Kills Cancer Cells". Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci.. 2005-09-12. Retrieved 2007-08-05. 
  63. ^ Collin, Harry; Pinch, Trevor (2007). Dr. Golem: How to Think about Medicine. Chicago: University of Chicago Press. ISBN 0226113671. 
  64. ^ "No More War!". Linus Pauling and the Twentieth Century. Archived from the original on 2007-08-06. Retrieved 2007-08-06. 
  65. ^ Pauling, Linus (November 1978). Ralph Pelligra, ed.. ed. "Orthomolecular enhancement of human development" (PDF). Human Neurological Development: Past, Present, and Future. A Joint Symposium Sponsored by NASA/Ames Research Center and the Institutes for the Achievement of Human Potential. NASA CP 2063: 47–51. 
  66. ^ Andrew W. Saul; Dr. Abram Hoffer. "Abram Hoffer, M.D., Ph.D. 50 Years of Megavitamin Research, Practice and Publication". Retrieved 2007-08-05. 
  67. ^ Sebastian et al. Vitamin C Pharmacokinetics: Implications for Oral and Intravenous Use (full-text). Annals of Internal Medicine.
  68. ^ Chen Q, Espey M, Krishna M, Mitchell J, Corpe C, Buettner G, Shacter E, Levine M (2005). "Pharmacologic ascorbic acid concentrations selectively kill cancer cells: action as a pro-drug to deliver hydrogen peroxide to tissues". Proc Natl Acad Sci USA 102 (38): 13604–9. doi:10.1073/pnas.0506390102. PMID 16157892. 
  69. ^ Padayatty S, Riordan H, Hewitt S, Katz A, Hoffer L, Levine M (2006). "Intravenously administered vitamin C as cancer therapy: three cases". CMAJ 174 (7): 937–42. doi:10.1503/cmaj.050346. PMID 16567755. 
  70. ^ Assouline S, Miller W (2006). "High-dose vitamin C therapy: renewed hope or false promise?". CMAJ 174 (7): 956–7. doi:10.1503/cmaj.060228. PMID 16567756. 
  71. ^ Thomas Hager (December 2004). "The Nature of the Chemical Bond". Oregon State University Libraries Special Collections. Retrieved 2008-02-29. 
  72. ^ Linus Pauling (1928). ""London's paper. General ideas on bonds."". Oregon State University Libraries Special Collections. Retrieved 2008-02-29. 
  73. ^ Linus Pauling (1930s). ""Notes and Calculations re: Electronegativity and the Electronegativity Scale"". Oregon State University Libraries Special Collections. Retrieved 2008-02-29. 
  74. ^ Linus Pauling (1934-01-06). ""Benzene"". Oregon State University Libraries Special Collections. Retrieved 2008-02-29. 
  75. ^ Linus Pauling (1946-07-29). ""Resonance"". Oregon State University Libraries Special Collections. Retrieved 2008-02-29. 
  76. ^ Oregon State Special Collections
  77. ^ Pauling, Linus (October 1965). "The close-packed-spheron theory and nuclear fission". Science. Retrieved 2007-08-05. 
  78. ^ Pauling, Linus (October 1965). "The close-packed spheron model of atomic nuclei and its relation to the shell model". Science. Retrieved 2007-08-05. 
  79. ^ Pauling, Linus (July 1966). "The close-packed-spheron theory of nuclear structure and the neutron excess for stable nuclei (Dedicated to the seventieth anniversary of Professor Horia Hulubei)". Science. Retrieved 2007-08-05. 
  80. ^ Pauling, Linus (December 1967). "Magnetic-moment evidence for the polyspheron structure of the lighter atomic nuclei". Science. Retrieved 2007-08-05. 
  81. ^ Pauling, Linus (November 1969). "Orbiting clusters in atomic nuclei". Science. Retrieved 2007-08-05. 
  82. ^ Pauling, Linus; Arthur B. Robinson (1975). "Rotating clusters in nuclei". Canadian Journal of Physics. Retrieved 2007-08-05. 
  83. ^ Pauling, Linus (1991). "Transition from one revolving cluster to two revolving clusters in the ground-state rotational bands of nuclei in the lanthanon region". Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. 88 month=February. Retrieved 2007-08-05. 
  84. ^ Norman D. Cook, Models of the Atomic Nucleus, 2006, Springer, p. 71.
  85. ^ Linus Pauling Interview - page 9 / 9 - Academy of Achievement
  86. ^ Goertzel and Goertzel, p. 247.
  87. ^ a b Linus Pauling dies at 93. The Oregonian, August 20, 1994.
  88. ^ Linus C. Pauling. Find A Grave. Retrieved December 4, 2007.
  89. ^ Desiraju, G.R. (2000-11-23). "The all-chemist" (PDF). Nature. Retrieved 2007-08-05. 
  90. ^ "A Conversation on VB vs MO Theory: A Never-Ending Rivalry?". ACS Publications. 2003. pp. 750–756. Retrieved 2007-08-05. 
  91. ^ Moody, Glyn (2002). Rebel Code: Linux and the Open Source Revolution. Perseus Books Group. pp. 336. ISBN 0738206709. 
  92. ^ Odegard, Kyle (2008-03-07). "Linus Pauling stamp debuts at university". Gazette-Times. 
  93. ^ Jeffrey L. Sturchio (April 1987). "Linus C. Pauling - Honors". Chemical Heritage Foundation. Retrieved 2010-01-09. 


Further reading

  • Patrick Coffey, Cathedrals of Science: The Personalities and Rivalries That Made Modern Chemistry, Oxford University Press, 2008. ISBN 978-0-19-532134-0

External links


Up to date as of January 14, 2010

From Wikiquote

The world progresses, year by year, century by century, as the members of the younger generation find out what was wrong among the things that their elders said. So you must always be skeptical — always think for yourself.

Linus Carl Pauling (1901-02-281994-08-19) was an American quantum chemist and biochemist, a pioneer in the application of quantum mechanics to chemistry, and one of the founders of molecular biology. He received the Nobel Prize in Chemistry in 1954, and the Nobel Peace Prize in 1962; he is the only person in history to receive two unshared Nobel Prizes.


  • Science cannot be stopped. Man will gather knowledge no matter what the consequences – and we cannot predict what they will be. Science will go on — whether we are pessimistic, or are optimistic, as I am. I know that great, interesting, and valuable discoveries can be made and will be made… But I know also that still more interesting discoveries will be made that I have not the imagination to describe — and I am awaiting them, full of curiosity and enthusiasm.
    • Lecture at Yale University, "Chemical Achievement and Hope for the Future." (October 1947) Published in Science in Progress. Sixth Series. Ed. George A. Baitsell. 100-21, (1949)
  • We may, I believe, anticipate that the chemist of the future who is interested in the structure of proteins, nucleic acids, polysaccharides, and other complex substances with high molecular weight will come to rely upon a new structural chemistry, involving precise geometrical relationships among the atoms in the molecules and the rigorous application of the new structural principles, and that great progress will be made, through this technique, in the attack, by chemical methods, on the problems of biology and medicine.
    • Nobel Lecture (11 December 1954)
  • The only sane policy for the world is that of abolishing war.
    • Nobel Lecture for The Nobel Peace Prize 1962 (11 December 1963)
  • I realized that more and more I was saying, "It seems to me that we have come to the time war ought to be given up. It no longer makes sense to kill 20 million or 40 million people because of a dispute between two nations who are running things, or decisions made by the people who really are running things. It no longer makes sense. Nobody wins. Nobody benefits from destructive war of this sort and there is all of this human suffering." And Einstein was saying the same thing of course. So that is when we decided — my wife and I — that first, I was pretty effective as a speaker. Second, I better start boning up, studying these other fields so that nobody could stand up and say, "Well, the authorities say such and such "
  • I have always wanted to know as much as possible about the world.
    • Linus Pauling In His Own Words (1995) by Barbara Marinacci ISBN 0684813874
  • Only when I began studying chemical engineering at Oregon Agricultural College did I realize that I myself might discover something new about the nature of the world.
    • Linus Pauling In His Own Words (1995) by Barbara Marinacci
  • When an old and distinguished person speaks to you, listen to him carefully and with respect — but do not believe him. Never put your trust into anything but your own intellect. Your elder, no matter whether he has gray hair or has lost his hair, no matter whether he is a Nobel laureate — may be wrong. The world progresses, year by year, century by century, as the members of the younger generation find out what was wrong among the things that their elders said. So you must always be skeptical — always think for yourself.
    • Linus Pauling: Scientist and Peacemaker (2001) by Clifford Mead and Thomas Hager
  • What astonished me was the very low toxicity of a substance that has such very great physiological power. A little pinch, 5 mg, every day, is enough to keep a person from dying of pellagra, but it is so lacking in toxicity that ten thousand times as much can [sometimes] be taken without harm. (word in brackets added)
    • About vitamin B3, (either niacin or niacinamide), in How to Live Longer and Feel Better,, 1986, Avon Books, ISBN 0-380-70289-4 , page 24.
  • "I have something that I call my Golden Rule. It goes something like this: 'Do unto others twenty-five percent better than you expect them to do unto you.' [Pause.] The twenty-five percent is for error."
    • Pauling's reply to an audience question about his ethical system, following his lecture circa 1961 at Monterey Peninsula College, in Monterey, California.
  • "Just think of the differences today. A young person gets interested in chemistry and is given a chemical set. But it doesn't contain potassium cyanide. It doesn't even contain copper sulfate or anything else interesting because all the interesting chemicals are considered dangerous substances. Therefore, these budding young chemists don't get a chance to do anything engrossing with their chemistry sets. As I look back, I think it is pretty remarkable that Mr. Ziegler, this friend of the family, would have so easily turned over one-third of an ounce of potassium cyanide to me, an eleven-year-old boy."
    • Linus Pauling In His Own Words (1995) by Barbara Marinacci, page 29


  • "My God, but he was a God. He was a God! Not just any God, but God God! Astonishing! Meeting him was the greatest education a man could receive. Who will pass again this way with so waxing an intellect and so waning exrasez!??!?"
    • Jean-Philip Liousville, Voulcrateur Extraordinaire
  • From time to time throughout his long life, scientists and commentators dismissed him as a showman. Would that we had a whole troupe of such scientific showmen.
  • Linus Pauling was not always right in his ideas. But my belief is that, in most cases, if somebody is always right in his ideas you find that he does not have much to say. It is an expression of somebody's fertility that he does produce quite a number of ideas, and I think Linus Pauling's score is pretty high... I do not think, as I said earlier, that it is right to discuss the impact of Linus Pauling on molecular biology. Rather, he was one of the founders of molecular biology. It was not that it existed in some way, and he simply made a contribution. He was one of the founders who got the whole discipline going.
  • Although Pauling was often controversial and was sometimes criticized in both scientific and political arenas, it is incontrovertible that he had a major impact on science, education, and international peace.
    • Harden M. McConnell, Science (1990)
  • An extraordinary person — a scientist, educator, humanist, and statesman with worldwide impact in each of these roles.
    • John D. Roberts, Chemical & Engineering News (1990)
  • Linus Pauling undoubtedly stands as one of the most influential scientists of the twentieth century.
    • Zelek S. Herman, The Chemical Intelligencer (1996)
  • He combined scientific brilliance, political courage, and a stubborn, quirky single-mindedness in ways that... will probably always resist simple explanation.
    • Jeremy Bernstein, The New York Review of Books (1995-11-16)
  • Whatever the context and whatever the audience, he was clear, he was committed, he was compassionate, and, far more often than most, he was right — or if not, at least on the side of the angels.
    • Derek A. Davenport
  • Pauling scooped out a hollow on the narrow ledge and covered himself with a big map he carried in his pocket. He dared not sleep because of the cold. He counted in French and German and Italian to keep himself awake; he exercised as he lay in his narrow quarters. He told the unheeding ocean about the nature of the chemical bond. When the stars came out, he sighted the end of his walking stick and tried to tell time by the constellations. He recited the periodic table of the elements. He grew more and more anxious, not for himself, since he knew he would eventually be found, but for Ava Helen, whom he could not tell that he was uncomfortable, but unharmed. He was chagrined by his predicament….
    • Ted and Ben Goertzel, Linus Pauling: A Life in Science and Politics
    • About an incident on a cliff at Pauling's ranch.

External links

Wikipedia has an article about:

Simple English

Linus Pauling
Born28 February 1901(1901-02-28)
Portland, Oregon, USA
Died19 August 1994 (aged 93)
Big Sur, California, USA
ResidenceUnited States
NationalityUnited States
FieldQuantum chemistry
InstitutionsCaltech, UCSD, Stanford
Alma materOregon Agricultural College
Academic advisor  Roscoe G. Dickinson
Notable students  Jerry Donohue
Martin Karplus
Matthew Meselson
Edgar Bright Wilson
William Lipscomb
Known forElucidating the nature of chemical bonds and the structures of molecules
Advocating nuclear disarmament
Notable prizesNobel Prize in Chemistry (1954)
Nobel Peace Prize (1962)
ReligionRaised Lutheran, Unitarian Universalist, Atheist as an adult

Linus Carl Pauling (February 28, 1901 – August 19, 1994) was an American scientist, peace activist, author and educator. He was one of the most important chemists in history and ranks in the most important scientists in history.

Pauling was one the first scientists to work in the fields of quantum chemistry, molecular biology and orthomolecular medicine. He is one of a small group of people to have been awarded more than one Nobel Prize and is one of only two people to receive them in different fields (the other person was Marie Curie) and the only person in that group to have been awarded each of his prizes without having to share it with another winner.[1]


Life and education

Pauling was born and grew-up in Oregon, USA. He went to Oregon Agricultural College and graduated in 1922 with a degree in chemical engineering. Pauling then went to the California Institute of Technology (Caltech), where he received his Ph. D in physical chemistry and mathematical physics in 1925. Two years later, he became an assistant professor at a university called Caltech.

Work and awards

In 1932, Pauling came up with the idea of electronegativity and made a scale that would help predict the chemical bonding. Pauling kept doing this work while he also did work on the structure of the atomic nucleus.

In 1954, Pauling was given the Nobel Prize in Chemistry for work that he did on the structure of DNA. This work led scientists in the UK to come up with the double-helix of DNA.

During the Second World War, Pauling worked on military research and development. But, after the war had ended he became worried about the making and future use of atomic weapons and with the destruction forced on the world by war. Ava Helen Pauling, Linus's wife, was a pacifist and in time he came to share her beliefs.[2] Pauling then began to talk about his worries with the effects of nuclear fallout and in 1962, was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for his work against above ground nuclear testing.

Work as author and teacher

Pauling was also an author and a teacher. His first book, The Nature of the Chemical Bond (1939), is still used today. his introductory textbook, General Chemistry (1949). Later in life, he became an advocate for greatly increased consumption of vitamin C and other nutrients. He generalized his ideas to define orthomolecular medicine, which is still regarded as unorthodox by conventional medicine. He popularized his concepts, analyses, research and insights in several successful but controversial books, such as How to Live Longer and Feel Better in 1986.


Pauling died of prostate cancer on August 19, 1994, at 7:20 PM at home in Big Sur, California. He was 93 years old.[3][4] A grave marker for him is in Oswego Pioneer Cemetery in Lake Oswego, Oregon.[4][5]

Honors and awards

Pauling received numerous awards and honors during his career. Following are awards and honors he has received.

  • 1931 Langmuir Prize, American Chemical Society
  • 1941 Nichols Medal, New York Section, American Chemical Society
  • 1947 Davy Medal, Royal Society
  • 1948 United States Presidential Medal for Merit
  • 1952 Pasteur Medal, Biochemical Society of France
  • 1954 Nobel Prize in Chemistry
  • 1955 Addis Medal, National Nephrosis Foundation
  • 1955 Phillips Memorial Award, American College of Physicians
  • 1956 Avogadro Medal, Italian Academy of b,la
  • 1957 Paul Sabatier Medal
  • 1957 Pierre Fermat Medal in Mathematics
  • 1957 International Grotius Medal
  • 1961 Humanist of the Year, American Humanist Association
  • 1962 Nobel Peace Prize
  • 1965 Republic of Italy
  • 1965 Medal, Academy of the Rumanian People's Republic
  • 1966 Linus Pauling Medal
  • 1966 Silver Medal, Institute of France
  • 1966 Supreme Peace Sponsor, World Fellowship of Religion
  • 1972 United States National Medal of Science
  • 1972 International Lenin Peace Prize
  • 1977 Lomonosov Gold Medal, USSR Academy of Science
  • 1979 Medal for Chemical Sciences, National Academy of Science
  • 1984 Priestley Medal, American Chemical Society
  • 1984 Award for Chemistry, Arthur M. Sackler Foundation
  • 1987 Award in Chemical Education, American Chemical Society
  • 1989 Vannevar Bush Award, National Science Board
  • 1990 Richard C. Tolman Medal, Southern California, Section, American Chemical Society
  • 2008 "American Scientists" US stamp series, $0.41, for his sickle cell disease work

Notable Students

  • Jerry Donohue
  • Martin Karplus
  • Matthew Meselson
  • Edgar Bright Wilson
  • William Lipscomb


  1. Dunitz, p. 222.
  2. "The Linus Pauling Papers: Biographical Information". United States National Library of Medicine. Retrieved 2008-02-11. 
  3. Goertzel and Goertzel, p. 247.
  4. 4.0 4.1 Linus Pauling dies at 93. The Oregonian, August 20, 1994.
  5. Linus C. Pauling. Find A Grave. Retrieved December 4, 2007.


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