Linus Carl Pauling
Linus Carl Pauling was born in 1901 and died in 1994. He was an American
chemist and physicist, whose investigations into the structure of molecules led
to discoveries of how chemicals bond.
Pauling was born in Portland, Oregon, on February 28, 1901, and educated
at Oregon State College and the California Institute of Technology (Caltech). He
began to apply his insights into quantum physics as professor of chemistry at
Caltech, where from 1927 to 1964 he made many of his discoveries. By devising
techniques such as X-ray and electron diffraction, he was able to calculate the
interatomic distances and angles between chemical bonds.
During the 1930s, Pauling introduced concepts that helped reveal the
bonding forces of molecules. The Nature of the Chemical Bond, the result of
these investigations, has been a major influence on scientific thinking since it
was published in 1939. Pauling also investigated the atomic structure of
proteins, including hemoglobin, and discovered that cell deformity in sickle-
cell anemia is caused by a genetic defect that influences the production of
hemoglobin. He was awarded the 1954 Nobel Prize in chemistry for his work. In
later years Pauling fought ardently against nuclear weapons testing, warning the
public of the biological dangers of radioactive fallout, and presented a
petition to the United Nations in 1958 signed by over 11,000 other scientists.
In 1962 he was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize, becoming the second person, after
Marie Curie, to win two Nobel Prizes.
Throughout his scientific career, Pauling has followed his creative
hunches, no matter how controversial they were. In 1970, for example, he
advocated large doses of vitamin C to treat the common cold-a belief, however,
that few medical authorities have endorsed.