Pauling, Linus

Pauling, Linus (Carl)

(1901–94) chemist; born in Portland, Ore. After taking his Ph.D. at the California Institute of Technology (1925) and then two years of study abroad, he returned to that institution for most of his professional career (1927–63). In his later years he was associated with the Center for the Study of Democratic Institutions (1963–69), the University of California: San Diego (1967–69) and Stanford University (1969). His early research used X-ray crystallography to study the nature of chemical bonding; in 1928 he published his resonance theory of bonding, and his work on molecule structure opened up new areas to modern chemistry. This work would win him the Nobel Prize in chemistry in 1954. In the 1930s he turned his attention to biochemistry, and among other achievements, he correctly postulated that the shapes of antigens and their antibodies are complementary; his pioneering work on complex organic molecules such as proteins also led to his discovery that sickle-cell anemia resulted from a hereditary defect in blood hemoglobin. As the arms race between the United States and the Soviet Union led to tests of atomic weapons (1950s), Pauling and other scientists became increasingly concerned about the potential genetic damage from the radioactive fallout. In 1957 he drew up an appeal, eventually signed by more than 11,000 scientists in 49 countries, to halt the tests. His efforts led to a temporary moratorium (beginning in 1958) and then to a treaty banning above-ground testing (1963); for this effort he was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize (1962), thereby becoming the first person to win two unshared Nobel prizes. In the late 1960s, he became interested in the biological effects of vitamin C, which led him to his controversial theory of orthomolecular medicine, with its claim that massive doses of vitamin C could prevent or cure various diseases.