Linus Carl Pauling Biography

Linus Carl Pauling was born in 1901 and died in 1994. He was an Americanchemist and physicist, whose investigations into the structure of molecules ledto discoveries of how chemicals bond.

Pauling was born in Portland, Oregon, on February 28, 1901, and educatedat Oregon State College and the California Institute of Technology (Caltech). Hebegan to apply his insights into quantum physics as professor of chemistry atCaltech, where from 1927 to 1964 he made many of his discoveries. By devisingtechniques such as X-ray and electron diffraction, he was able to calculate theinteratomic distances and angles between chemical bonds.

During the 1930s, Pauling introduced concepts that helped reveal thebonding forces of molecules. The Nature of the Chemical Bond, the result ofthese investigations, has been a major influence on scientific thinking since itwas published in 1939. Pauling also investigated the atomic structure ofproteins, including hemoglobin, and discovered that cell deformity in sickle-cell anemia is caused by a genetic defect that influences the production ofhemoglobin.

He was awarded the 1954 Nobel Prize in chemistry for his work. Inlater years Pauling fought ardently against nuclear weapons testing, warning thepublic of the biological dangers of radioactive fallout, and presented apetition 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, afterMarie Curie, to win two Nobel Prizes.

Throughout his scientific career, Pauling has followed his creativehunches, no matter how controversial they were. In 1970, for example, headvocated large doses of vitamin C to treat the common cold-a belief, however,that few medical authorities have endorsed.

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