Papers of Nobel Laureate, Linus Pauling, Added to "Profiles In Science" Web Site
Bethesda, Maryland He was a high school drop-out, a maverick who jumped disciplinary fences, and an activist who was attacked for his political beliefs. Yet he won two Nobel prizes and published more than 500 papers and 11 books. His name was Linus Carl Pauling (1901-1994) and he is probably one of the few scientists to be a household name.
Linus Pauling is the eighth scientist to be added to the National Library of Medicine's (NLM) Profiles in Science Web site (http://profiles.nlm.nih.gov/). He remains the only person in history to win two unshared Nobel Prizes. "Linus Pauling revolutionized the study of chemistry, and made crucial contributions to medical research," said Dr. Alexa McCray, who heads up the Profiles project.
To celebrate the inclusion of Pauling's papers on the Profiles Web site, the Friends of the National Library of Medicine and the American Chemical Society will host a reception in Room 328 of the Russell Senate Office Building on Tuesday, February 11, from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. Dr. Linus Pauling, Jr., the oldest son of Linus Pauling, will greet the guests.
The Profiles online exhibit features correspondence, unpublished manuscripts, lecture notes, photographs, reprints, and transcripts from speeches documenting the life and career of Dr. Pauling. Visitors to the Pauling site can view, for example, his senior class oration at Oregon State Agricultural College, photographs of Pauling at work in his laboratory, and the petition that he and other scientists circulated that called for an end to nuclear testing.
The NLM is collaborating with Oregon State University's Valley Library to digitize and make available over the Web this selection of the Pauling Papers for use by educators, researchers, students, and the public. The University is the repository for the Linus Pauling papers.
Pauling was a descendent of a Portland, Oregon pioneer family. He grew up in an impoverished household after the death of his father when Pauling was 9. His interest in science began at age 14, following a visit to a friend with a toy chemistry set.
Pauling dropped out of high school at 16 and enrolled at Oregon Agricultural College (now Oregon State University), where he graduated as a chemical engineer in 1922. He set his sights on answering one of the most important questions of chemistry: how did atoms bond together to form molecules? Pauling chose a fledgling Pasadena school, the California Institute of Technology, or Caltech, to help get those answers, and he earned his PhD there in 1925.
After 15 months in Europe on a Guggenheim Fellowship and studying with European physicists, Pauling returned to Caltech as a young faculty member in 1927. He began to rebuild chemistry on a new foundation of quantum mechanics. This work was capped in 1939 with the publication of The Nature of the Chemical Bond, one of the most-cited texts in the history of science.
From the late 1920s to the 1930s, Pauling devised new ways of discovering the molecular structures of complex substances. His work focused on the antigen-antibody reaction and the structure of proteins and, in 1949, Pauling's team discovered the molecular basis of sickle-cell anemia. In the early 1950s, Pauling used his model-building approach to solve the large-scale structures of many proteins, such as hemoglobin, an enormous advance in molecular biology. He also proposed a model for the structure of DNA. In 1954, Pauling's many achievements were crowned with the awarding of the Nobel Prize in Chemistry.
In the post-World War II period, and spurred by the pacifist activism of his wife Ava Helen, Pauling joined other scientists in expressing concerns about nuclear bomb testing. The U.S. government responded by putting him under FBI surveillance, canceling his research grants, and refusing him a passport. Despite these pressures, Pauling continued to focus his attention on peace work. He and his wife gained worldwide fame by gathering the signatures of 11,000 scientists on a petition asking for an end to nuclear weapons testing, which they then presented to the United Nations.
On the day that the first nuclear test ban treaty went into effect, October 10, 1963, Pauling received the news that he was to be awarded the Nobel Peace Prize. Instead of warm public support, the scientist encountered widespread criticism. Life Magazine, for example, called the prize "a weird insult from Norway," and the head of Caltech offered a weak congratulations. One week later, Pauling quit Caltech, leaving the school that had been his academic home for more than 40 years.
Between 1973 and 1994, Pauling's research focused on a field he termed "orthomolecular medicine," the concept that optimal health could result from ensuring the right molecules were present in the right amount in the body. He viewed Vitamin C as one of the most important of these molecules, oversaw a number of investigations into its effects on diseases, and encouraged the ingestion of daily amounts many times greater than the accepted minimum daily requirement.. He conducted research in this field until his death from cancer in 1994, at age 93.
Profiles in Science was launched by NLM in September 1998. The Library is a part of the National Institutes of Health, an agency of the Department of Health and Human Services, in Bethesda, Maryland. Profiles is a continuing project and the Library plans to announce each new scientist added to the site.
Note to editors: Photographs of Linus Pauling are available from NLM. E-mail requests to firstname.lastname@example.org.