Linus Carl Pauling

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Pauling, Linus Carl

(pô`lĭng), 1901–94, American chemist, b. Portland, Oreg. He was one of the few recipients of two Nobel Prizes, winning the chemistry award in 1954 and the peace prize in 1962. His scientific career centered around the California Institute of Technology, where he received his doctorate in 1925 and became professor of chemistry in 1931 after a period of study abroad with Arnold SommerfeldSommerfeld, Arnold Johannes Wilhelm
, 1868–1951, German physicist and teacher. He received a Ph.D. at Königsburg Univ. in 1891 and was a professor of physics at the Univ. of Munich from 1906 to 1940.
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, Niels BohrBohr, Niels Henrik David
, 1885–1962, Danish physicist, one of the foremost scientists of modern physics. He studied at the Univ. of Copenhagen (Ph.D. 1911) and carried on research on the structure of the atom at Cambridge under Sir James J.
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, and Erwin SchrödingerSchrödinger, Erwin
, 1887–1961, Austrian theoretical physicist. He was educated at Vienna, taught at Breslau and Zürich, and was professor at the Univ. of Berlin (1927–33), fellow of Magdalen College, Oxford (1933–36), and professor at the Univ.
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. He was among the first to apply the quantum theoryquantum theory,
modern physical theory concerned with the emission and absorption of energy by matter and with the motion of material particles; the quantum theory and the theory of relativity together form the theoretical basis of modern physics.
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 to calculations of molecular structures; his book The Nature of the Chemical Bond (1939, 3d ed. 1960) is still the classic in the field. He developed the concept of resonance to explain covalent bonds in certain organic compounds (see chemical bondchemical bond,
mechanism whereby atoms combine to form molecules. There is a chemical bond between two atoms or groups of atoms when the forces acting between them are strong enough to lead to the formation of an aggregate with sufficient stability to be regarded as an
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). His later work concerned molecular biology; using physical techniques, he determined the three-dimensional structures of many antitoxins, amino acids, and proteins. He was the first recipient of two honors awarded by the American Chemical Society: the Langmuir prize (1931) and the Lewis medal (1951). Outside of his scientific work, Pauling took a vital interest in public affairs, especially the movement for world disarmament. His No More War (1958) was a plea for international peace. In addition to receiving the Nobel Peace Prize, he was among seven awarded the 1968–69 International Lenin Peace Prize. He also championed the use of large quantities (megadoses) of vitamin C for controlling the common cold and the use of chemotherapy in general for the cure of mental diseases such as schizophrenia.


See T. Hager, Force of Nature: The Life of Linus Pauling (1995); T. Goertzel and B. Goertzel, Linus Pauling: A Life in Science and Politics (1995); B. Marinacci, ed., Linus Pauling in His Own Words (1995).

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The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.

Pauling, Linus Carl


Born Feb. 28, 1901, in Portland, Ore. American physicist, chemist, and public figure.

Pauling graduated from Oregon State College in 1922. In 1926 and 1927 he was a postdoctorate fellow at the universities of Munich, Copenhagen, and Zürich. He taught and conducted research at the California Institute of Technology from 1922 to 1925 and from 1927 to 1964. He was made a full professor at Cal Tech in 1931. Beginning in 1969, he was a professor of chemistry at Stanford University. He was president of the American Chemical Society for 1949 and is a member of the US National Academy of Sciences.

Pauling’s major works have been devoted to the study of the structure of molecules and the nature of the chemical bond by the methods of quantum mechanics. He calculated the values of ionic radii and arranged them in tables and formulated some of the general rules for the formation of ionic crystalline structures. He also gave a quantum-mechanical description of the homeopolar bond and explained the directed nature of valence. Pauling devoted a series of studies to biochemistry, especially to the structure of proteins, immunochemistry, and the study of diseases on a molecular level (sickle-cell anemia).

Pauling has consistently supported peace. One of the initiators of the Pugwash conferences, Pauling was also the author in 1957 of a petition from American scientists to the US president demanding the immediate cessation of the testing of nuclear weapons. In the following year he drew up a similar petition that was presented to the UN and that was signed by more than 9,000 scientists from various countries. In his book No More War!, published in 1958, Pauling wrote: “The time has now come for man’s intellect to win out over the brutality, the insanity of war.” In 1965, Pauling signed the Declaration of Civil Disobedience and Conscience Against the War in Vietnam.

Pauling was awarded the Nobel Prize in chemistry in 1954, the Nobel Peace Prize in 1962, and the International Lenin Peace Prize in 1970. He has been a foreign member of the Academy of Sciences of the USSR since 1958.


The Structure of Line Spectra. New York-London, 1930. (With S. Coudsmit.)
Introduction to Quantum Mechanics: With Applications to Chemistry. New York-London, 1935. (With E. Bright Wilson.)
College Chemistry, 3rd ed. San Francisco, 1964.
The Architecture of Molecules. San Francisco-London, 1964. (With R. Hayward.)
The Chemical Bond. New York, 1967.
Vitamin C and the Common Cold. San Francisco, 1971.
In Russian translation:
Priroda khimicheskoi sviazi Moscow-Leningrad, 1947.
Ne byvat’ voinel Moscow, 1960.
Obshchaia khimiia, 3rd ed. Moscow, 1974.
The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.