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Linus Pauling

posted Jan 1, 2015, 6:26 PM by ranmini@charliesresearch.com   [ updated Jul 20, 2019, 2:57 PM by Upali Salpadoru ]



  Linus Pauling 1901 - 1994.

"One of the 20 greatest scientists                        of all time"
                        ...New Scietist..
1. He explained chemical bonding and 'electro negativity'.
2. He campaigned for world peace.
1901   Birth.

 Linus was the son of a pharmacist. Henry Pauling and Lucy Isabelle Darling of Oregon,U.S.

1911  Age 10 yrs.
 His father died  and his mother had to look after him along with two younger brothers. 
He attended Washington High School in Portland.

 He read widely and conducted chemistry experiments with a friend who had a chemistry lab in his bed room. His aim was to become a chemical engineer. Even in High school he continued chemistry experiments burrowing materials from a workshop where his grandpa worked as a night watchman.

 At the end of the high school course, the authorities refused to give him the Certificate as he had not done well in American History. This certificate was awarded to him 42 years later. at a special ceremony,  after he had obtained two Nobel Prizes.

1917   Age  16 yrs.
 Entered the  Oregon Agricultural College in Corvallis — now Oregon State University. 
Already he was drawn to the challenge of how and why particular atoms form bonds with each other to create molecules with unique structures.

1919- Age 18 
  He served as a full-time teacher of quantitative analysis in the State College, till  1920.

1922  Age 21 yrs.
 He earned the Bachelor’s Degree in chemical engineering from Oregon Agricultural College in Corvallis — now Oregon State University. .
 Ava Helen Miller was a Home Economics student that attracted his attention

1023 Age 22 yrs.
 He won the heart of Helen Miller

1925 Age 24 yrs.

 He joined Caltech and did research on crystallography and obtained the Physical Chemistry Doctorate. 
Then he traveled to Europe on a scholarship and studied under German physicist Arnold Sommerfield in Munich Danish physicist Niels Bohr in Copenhagen and Austrian physicist Erwin Shrodinger in Zurich; all three, experts in the new field of quantum mechanics.
 He applied this knowledge to the study of bonding of atoms to form molecules and started an entirely a new field of study called ‘quantum chemistry’

1927 Age 26 yrs.
 He had an illustrious career at Caltech as a successful teacher and a brilliant scientist till 1964.  As Physicist Robert Oppenheimer spent some time every year at Caltech he developed a friendship and decided to work on a joint program to study the nature of the chemical bond. Oppenheimer would supply the mathematics and Pauling would interpret the results.  
 As the joint study of chemical bonds appeared to sever the matrimonial bonds Linus decided to terminate the project.

1932 Age 31 yrs.
  It was he who introduced the idea of electro-negativity of atoms considering the energy required to break a bond .
 This enabled one to predict physical and chemical properties of substances according to the way they are bonded.

 1939  Age 38 yrs.
 The Nature of the Chemical Bond, considered to be the foundation of modern chemistry as well as the basis for what is now known as molecular biology.

 1946  Age 45 yrs.
 He was in the Emergency committee of atomic scientists with Einstein until  1950 but he openly opposed the use of atomic explosions. 
 He calculated the probabilities of birth deformities that would cause by radioactive materials released during nuclear testing and publicized them. 
 He opposed the production of the Hydrogen bomb and worked towards disarmament.
 Pauling postulated that the gene might consist of two mutually complementary strands — a concept anticipating Watson and Crick's discovery of DNA structure seven years later.

1948 Age 47 yrs.
 He was awarded the Presidential Medal of Merit for his services during the World War II. 
He worked on explosives and rocket propellants. His sympathy and support for the military retarded with the introduction of nuclear technology. 
 As an authority on human proteins he saw, better than any other, the extent of damage and the suffering it would cause by exploding of Atomic bombs. 

  Pauling laid out the concept of hybridization (merging) of atomic orbitals and analyzed the tetravalency of the carbon atom; CH4 He also explained the unsaturated nature of the carbon compounds such as ethylene. C2H4. There he explored the relationship between co-valent bonding and ionic bonding. He showed that these were two extremes and most of the combinations really take place in between.

 Thirdly he attacked the structure of the benzene molecule, an aromatic hydrocarbon. Frederich Kekule had treated it as a structure with alternating single and double bonds.  

 Pauling showed that it was an intermediate structure containing some aspects of each. The structure was a overlapping of structures rather than a rapid inter-conversion between them.

 For over ten years he studied the molecular bonds and published a book on the subject, ‘The nature of the Chemical Bond’. One of the most influential chemistry books ever published. His study of simple amino acids led to the elucidation of complex protein molecules.

 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. This research directly helped the creation of a synthetic substance which could be used for blood plasma. 

 Pauling then suggested a helical structure for deoxyribonucleic acid. (DNA) James Watson and Francis Crick made a slight improvement on this and got a double helix model which is valid up to date.   According to some Pauling missed it as he could not attend an important conference in London due to the impounding of his passport.


1950 Age 49 yrs.
 He constructed the model of a protein molecule, a discovery which was a step towards understanding the living cell.

 Pauling had formulated a model for the structure of haemoglobin in which atoms were arranged in a helical pattern, and applied this idea to proteins in general. This research directly helped the creation of a synthetic substance which could be used for blood plasma. Pauling then suggested a helical structure for deoxyribonucleic acid. (DNA) James Watson and Francis Crick made a slight improvement on this and got a double helix model which is valid up to date. According to some Pauling missed it as he could not attend an important conference in London due to the impounding of his passport.

 His field of research became more akin to medicine rather than pure science.  His publications have included blood cell abnormalities, the relationship between molecular abnormality and heredity, and the chemical basis of mental retardation.

 In the last chapter of his book “The Nature of the Chemical Bond,” he says, “We may ask what the next step in the search for an understanding of the nature of life will be. I think that it will be the elucidation of the nature of the electromagnetic phenomena involved in mental activity in relation to the molecular structure of brain tissue. I believe that thinking…involves electromagnetic phenomena in the brain,”


1954  Age 53 yrs.
 He got the Nobel Prize for Chemistry for his research on chemical bonding.
His research into the nature of the chemical bond led to the understanding of the structure of complex organic substances. 
 Pauling changed over from being a physical chemist into the category of a bio-chemist

1961 Age 60 yrs.
After the Nuclear powers had withheld testing for three years Soviet Union announced resuming tests again. 
 He addressed the super powers as a man of science in these terms; "My conclusion that war must be abolished if the human race is to survive is based not on ethical principles but on my thorough and careful analysis, … of the facts about the changes that have taken place ….with respect to the nature of war." 
 Pauling and his wife presented a petition signed by 11 000 scientists from many countries in the world to the UN against nuclear testing. Same year he published a book, No More War! It proposed the establishment of a World Peace Research Organization, within the UN for the preserving of world peace

1963 Age 62 yrs.

 He got the second Nobel Prize for Peace, on the same day that the John F Kennedy and Nikita Khrushev signed the Partial Nuclear-test Ban Treaty

 Senate Internal Security Subcommittee, thought otherwise; "the number one scientific name in virtually every major activity of the Communist peace offensive in this country." ‘Life’ magazine characterized his Nobel Prize as "A Weird Insult from Norway."    

1973 Age 72 yrs.

 With two colleagues, Pauling founded the Institute of Orthomolecular Medicine in Menlo Park, California, which was soon renamed the “Linus Pauling Institute of Science and Medicine”. 

 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  Pauling directed research on vitamin C, but also continued his theoretical work in chemistry and physics until his death from prostate cancer

1994. Age 93 yrs.

Linus Pauling left behind three sons Crellin, Linus, Peter and a daughter Linda.

In his 93 years of life his contributions to Chemistry, Physics, Biology and Mediciene are simply unparalleled; when his humanitarian efforts are also attached he becomes a super human being.

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