Pauling, Linus Carl, 1901-

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Born in Portland, Oregon on February 18, 1901, Linus Pauling is widely regarded as one of the most influential scientists of all time.

After receiving his B.S. in chemical engineering from Oregon Agricultural College (Now Oregon State University) in 1922, Pauling went to the California Institute of Technology (Caltech), where, in 1925, he took his Ph.D., majoring in chemistry with minors in physics and mathematics. With the help of a Guggenheim Fellowship, Pauling studied the fledgling discipline of quantum mechanics in Europe for a year and a half, becoming one of the first scientists to gain a strong understanding of both chemistry and the new physics. This crossing of disciplinary boundaries was a characteristic of Pauling's scientific work throughout his career. It was the fuel of Pauling's "stochastic" research method, whereby he would theorize several ideas, and discard the bad ones.

After completing his fellowship, Pauling returned to Caltech to join the chemistry faculty. In 1937 he was named chairman of the department, a position he would hold for the next twenty years. In 1939 Pauling would publish The Nature of the Chemical Bond, which remains the most frequently-cited scientific publication of the twentieth century.

In the mid-1930's, Pauling brought his knowledge of molecular structure to bear on biological molecules, particularly hemoglobin--the protein in the red blood cells. By the end of the 1940s, Pauling had determined the basic structure of proteins, the alpha-helix. He further suggested that sickle-cell anemia was a molecular disease, a hypothesis that he would later confirm with a colleague, Harvey Itano. Pauling also utilized his commitment to the U.S. government during World War II to explore practical applications of his research, chiefly through his successful development of a substitute for blood plasma. In many respects, Pauling was the godfather of modern molecular biology.

Pauling's public and political activities during the 1950s made him one of the most well-known scientists of the twentieth century. His outspoken manner on the issues of loyalty oaths, nuclear bomb tests and disarmament, as well as a host of other peace and humanitarian causes resulted in both government and media harrassment for more than a decade as well as a concomitant reputation as both a maverick and a hero.

In 1954, Pauling was awarded the Nobel Prize in Chemistry for his research into chemical bonding. Pauling's award marked the first time the Nobel Committee had awarded a prize for a body of work, rather than one hallmark discovery. Following the Nobel ceremonies in Stockholm, Pauling and his wife, Ava Helen, embarked upon a lecture tour around the world. Throughout his life, Pauling's traveling companion for the bulk of his numerous journeys was Ava Helen, to whom he was married for nearly sixty years. Only through Ava Helen's death in 1981, could Linus be separated from the person he commonly referred to as "the greatest influence on my life."

In 1963, Pauling was awarded a second Nobel Prize for his efforts to achieve nuclear disarmament, which he dedicated to Ava Helen. The genesis for the 1963 award was Pauling's 1958 submission to the United Nations of a petition signed by over 9,000 international scientists advocating the cessation of nuclear testing. Notice of Pauling's receipt of the Peace Prize was given on the same day that the United States and the Soviet Union signed a treaty agreeing to halt all above-ground nuclear explosions. Linus Pauling remains the only individual to be awarded two unshared Nobel Prizes.

After leaving Caltech, Pauling's scientific career centered around medical issues. Once again, he used his scientific knowledge to make advances in a discipline other than his original field of expertise. His research led him to develop the concept of orthomolecular medicine. Pauling also espoused the health benefits of megadoses of vitamin C. In 1973 he founded the Institute of Orthomolecular Medicine to expedite his forward-thinking research. To this day the Institute, now known as the Linus Pauling Institute of Science and Medicine and located on the campus of Oregon State University, carries on the legacy of Pauling's work in medicine and nutrition.

Linus Pauling died on August 19, 1994.

Ava Helen Miller was born the tenth of twelve children on a farm near Oregon City, Oregon on December 24, 1903. After Graduating from Salem High School, she attended Oregon Agricultural College, Where she met Linus Pauling in 1922, her teacher in a chemistry course for home economics students. She said of her first opinion of him: "He impressed me as the man among men. I listened to him with the deepest admiration and respect." They were married in Salem, Oregon on June 17, 1923. Ava Helen later wrote, "My future husband came into my life when I was still something of a child and from then on he has been not only my ideal, but my life as well."

By taking on the responsibilities of their home life and four children, Ava Helen enabled Linus to Spend his time immersed in the pursuit of science. Prior to winning his first Nobel prize, Ava Helen urged her husband to join her in the fight for peace, stating that his scientific work would not be of any value if the world was destroyed. Accordingly, Linus came to devote much of his time to "peace work."

Together, Ava Helen and Linus spoke out against the internment of Japanese-Americans during World War II. Ava Helen also stood by her husband's side as he battled Congress when denied a passport in 1952. Most significantly, the couple focused their energies on eradicating the horrors of nuclear warfare. The Paulings organized the Appeal to Stop the Spread of Nuclear Weapons, a petition signed by approximately 9,000 scientists when submitted to the United Nations in 1958. In 1961, Ava Helen and Linus arranged the Oslo Conference Against the Spread of Nuclear Weapons, a symposium on the prevention of further development of nuclear weapons. Sixty scientists from 15 countries attended. The conference's recommendations were essentially identical to the nuclear nonproliferation policies announced by President John F. Kennedy the next year.

In addition to inspiring her husband's humanitarian causes, Ava Helen was involved with several peace and civil liberties organizations herself. For three years, she served as National Vice-President of the Women's International League for Peace and Freedom. She was a board member of the Los Angeles Chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union for seven Years and a lifelong member of the Women Strike for Peace.

Ava Helen traveled throughout the world giving lectures on peace and human rights.

Among the several awards that Ava Helen Pauling received are the Janice Holland Award of the Pennsylvania chapter of Women Strike for Peace (awarded jointly with her husband), an honorary doctorate (Doctor of World Peace) from San Gabriel College, and the Ralph Atkinson Award of the Monterey County Chapter of the ACLU. This last honor reads: " Ava Helen Pauling, who spoke out against the internment of Japanese-Americans in 1942... challenged the inquisitorial committees of Congress in the 1950s and 1960s... and has actively supported the ACLU and its programs for half a century.

In recognition of her peace efforts, Oregon State University's College of Liberal Arts established the Ava Helen Pauling Lectureship on World Peace in 1982. The inaugural lecturer was Linus Pauling and subsequent lecturers have included Paul Warnke, Helen Caldicott, Noam Chomsky and Arun Gandhi.

Ava Helen passed away on October 7, 1981. She and Linus Pauling shared 58 wonderful years together. Whenever asked what his greatest discovery was, Linus Pauling always replied, "My wife."

  • 1901: Linus Carl Pauling born in Portland, on February 28 to Herman and Belle Pauling.
  • 1905: The Paulings move to the farming town of Condon, Oregon, where Herman opens a pharmacy. William P. Murphy, who will win the Nobel Prize for Medicine in 1934, also lives in Condon at this time.
  • 1910: On May 12, Herman Pauling writes a letter to the Portland Oregonian about his nine year old son who is "a great reader" and deeply interested in ancient history and the natural sciences. He asks readers of the newspaper to advise him about the proper works to procure for his child who has "prematurely developed inclinations." On June 11, Herman Pauling suddenly dies of a perforated stomach ulcer with attendant peritonitis. Shortly thereafter the Paulings move back to Portland.
  • 1916: First semester of chemistry at Washington High School. Due to a scheduling conflict, Pauling is unable to complete the school's American History requirement. He never graduates from high school.
  • 1917: Begins school at Oregon Agricultural College, October. 6, in Corvallis, OR.
  • 1919: OAC chemistry department offers Pauling, a sophomore, a full-time position as assistant instructor in quantitative analysis.
  • 1920: Writes to Arthur Amos Noyes about his interest in coming to the California Institute of Technology.
  • 1921: Does first research, on the effect of magnetism on the orientation of iron crystals when they are electrodeposited from an iron salt solution.
  • 1922: Meets Ava Helen Miller for the first time, she is a student in a class Linus is teaching, "Chemistry for Home Economics Majors". June 22, graduates from Oregon Agricultural College. Departs for California Institute of Technology in Pasadena.
  • 1923: First published work on the structure of molybdenite with Roscoe Dickinson, appears in the Journal of the American Chemical Society. At the end of his first year of graduate studies, despite family opposition, Linus and Ava Helen marry on June 17, in Salem, OR.
  • 1925: Linus Carl Pauling, Jr. born, March 10. Receives Ph.D. in chemistry, minoring in physics and mathematics, Dissertation entitled "The Determination with X-rays of the Structure of Crystals."
  • 1926: Chosen for Guggenheim Fellowship. Goes to Europe with Ava Helen, leaving Linus Jr. with Ava Helen's mother.
  • 1927: Publishes one of his greatest papers, "The Theoretical Prediction of the Physical Properties of Many-Electron Atoms and Ions, Mole Refraction, Diamagnetic Susceptibility, and Extension in Space." Returns to Caltech and is named Assistant Professor of Theoretical Chemistry.
  • 1930: Works on quantum mechanics in Germany at Arnold Sommerfeld's Institute for Theoretical Physics; resolves problems concerning quantum mechanics of the chemical bond.
  • 1931: Peter Jeffress Pauling born, February 10. Made full professor at Caltech. Receives the first A.C. Langmuir Prize of the American Chemical Society.
  • 1932: Linda Helen Pauling born, May 31. Meets Albert Einstein, who attends a seminar conducted by Pauling on the quantum mechanics of the chemical bond.
  • 1933: Elected youngest member of the National Academy of Sciences. Receives his first honorary degree from Oregon State College.
  • 1934: Receives three-year grant from the Rockefeller Foundation to support research on the structure of hemoglobin.
  • 1935: Publishes, with E. Bright Wilson, Jr., Introduction to Quantum Mechanics, with Applications to Chemistry.
  • 1937: Is appointed Director of the Gates Laboratory and Chairman of the Division of Chemistry and Chemical Engineering. Edward Crellin Pauling born, June 4.
  • 1939: Publishes The Nature of the Chemical Bond, and the Structure of Molecules and Crystals. This book, Pauling's greatest, becomes, by the end of the century, "the most cited book in the scientific literature."
  • 1940: Becomes involved in various types of war work in explosives, rocket propellants, and medical research. Also develops the Pauling Oxygen Meter.
  • 1941: Receives the William H. Nichols Medal. Diagnosed with glomerulonephritis, a commonly fatal renal disease. A radical new treatment program developed by Dr. Thomas Addis, which stresses consuming a modicum of protein and drinking large amounts of water, is undertaken and followed by Pauling for the next fifteen years. It likely saves Pauling's life.
  • 1942: Ava Helen Pauling speaks out against the internment of Japanese - Americans. Pauling, Dan Campbell, and David Pressman announce successful formation of artificial antibodies. In the Fall, J. Robert Oppenheimer offers Pauling a job as Director of the Chemistry and Metallurgy Division for the Manhattan Project. Because of his nephritis and involvement with other war projects, Pauling declines.
  • 1945: Pauling and Campbell announce successful development of a substitute for blood plasma called oxypolygelatin. Aids in the preparation of the Bush Report (about science in U.S. after WWII); argues that it is the board's responsibility to encourage research on how to avoid war. In August, Pauling becomes concerned upon learning of the atomic bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. He begins giving talks about atomic bombs for local groups. At the urging of Ava Helen, decides to devote a large portion of his time learning about subjects relating to the question of how to abolish war from the world.
  • 1946: Receives the 35th Willard Gibbs Medal of the Chicago section of the American Chemical Society. At the request of Albert Einstein, joins in the formation of the Emergency Committee of Atomic Scientists.
  • 1947: Receives the Theodore William Richards Medal of the Northeast Section of the American Chemical Society. Publishes a textbook, General Chemistry, which revolutionizes the teaching of college chemistry. Awarded the Davy Medal of the Royal Society of London. In late December, Pauling writes a pledge on the back of a cardboard placard: "In every lecture that I give from now on, every public lecture, I pledge to make some mention of the need for world peace."
  • 1948: Awarded the Presidential Medal for Merit. Attacks again the problem of the structure of proteins and this time finds that he can formulate a structurally satisfactory helical configuration.
  • 1949: Becomes president of the American Chemical Society for 1949. In his presidential address he urges American industrial corporations to support a scientific research foundation that will insure them a steady supply of new products. In April, Pauling and Harvey Itano, with Singer and Wells, present their results on sickle-cell anemia as a molecular disease at a meeting of the National Academy of Sciences.
  • 1950: Publishes College Chemistry, a more popular treatment of basic chemistry than his General Chemistry. On November 13, testifying before the California Senate Investigating Committee on Education, Pauling explains for over two hours why he objects to loyalty oaths involving inquiry into a person's political beliefs.
  • 1951: On February 28, his fiftieth birthday, Pauling communicates "The Structure of Proteins: Two Hydrogen-Bonded Helical Configurations of the Polypeptide Chain," to Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. Written with Corey and H.R. Branson, this paper appears in April. The USSR Academy of Sciences attacks Pauling's resonance theory of chemical bonding as antithetical to Marxism.
  • 1952: Request for a passport is denied: "the [State] Department is of the opinion that your proposed travel would not be in the best interests of the United States". Pauling planned to visit England to take part in a meeting on the structure of proteins. He eventually receives a limited passport, but misses the England conference, where Rosalind Franklin's crystallographic photos of DNA are displayed for the first time.
  • 1953: Pauling and Corey publish "Stable Configurations of Polypeptide Chains" in the Proceedings of the Royal Society. It becomes one of his most heavily-cited publications.
  • 1954: In October Pauling learns that he has been awarded the Nobel Prize in Chemistry for "his research into the nature of the chemical bond and its application to the elucidation of the structure of complex substances." Pauling and his family travel to Stockholm where, on December 10, Pauling receives the Nobel Prize from King Gustav Adolph VI.
  • 1955: On July 15, Pauling and over fifty other Nobel laureates issue the Mainau Declaration, which calls for an end to all war, especially nuclear war. In November, Pauling appears before the Senate Subcommittee on Constitutional Rights. He testifies that he is not and has never been a communist, open or concealed.
  • 1956: Receives the Amadeo Avogadro Medal in Rome. He gives a speech on Avogadro in Italian. Heads a team of scientists exploring the molecular chemistry of mental disease.
  • 1957: On May 15, Pauling speaks to students at Washington University, where he states that no human should be sacrificed to any nation's program of perfecting nuclear weapons. In response to the enthusiastic reception accorded his speech, he composes an appeal to end atomic-bomb tests, which is promptly signed by over 100 members of the Washington University science department. The famous United Nations bomb test appeal is conceived.
  • 1958: On January 15, Linus and Ava Helen Pauling present the petition to halt bomb tests, plus a list of over nine thousand signers, to Dag Hammarskjöld at the United Nations. In February Pauling debates, on television, issues of fallout and disarmament with Edward Teller. In April, Pauling and seventeen others file a lawsuit against the United States Defense Department and the Atomic Energy Commission to stop nuclear tests. Publishes No More War! Elected to the Soviet Academy of Sciences. Publishes a paper on the genetic and somatic effects of carbon-14. In this influential paper, he estimates the effect of one year of bomb tests on the next generation.
  • 1959: Formulates hydrate microcrystal theory of anesthesia. The Paulings attend the Fifth World Conference against Atomic and Hydrogen Bombs in Hiroshima, Japan. Pauling is the guiding member of a drafting committee that writes the "Hiroshima Appeal", the principal document issued by the conference.
  • 1960: From Sunday, January 31, until Monday morning, February 1, Pauling is trapped on the ledge of a steep cliff near his ranch. His disappearance creates great concern, and his rescue makes news around the world. On June 21, Pauling testifies before the Senate Subcommittee to Investigate the Administration of the Internal Security Act in Washington, D.C. On October 11, Pauling again appears before the Subcommittee and, under threat of being held in contempt, refuses to reveal the names of those who helped circulate his petition. He is eventually excused without punishment.
  • 1961: On January 2, Time magazine chooses the scientists of the United States as its "Men of the Year." Pauling is one of the scientists on the cover. On January 16, Linus and Ava Helen Pauling issue "An Appeal to Stop the Spread of Nuclear Weapons."
  • 1962: On April 24, 1962, President Kennedy orders the resumption of atmospheric nuclear tests. On April 28 and 29, Linus and Ava Helen Pauling, with several hundred other demonstrators, march before the White House in protest. On the evening of April 29, Linus and Ava Helen Pauling enter the White House as guests of President and Mrs. Kennedy, who have invited many American Nobel Prize winners to a dinner party. Receives an honorary high school diploma from Washington High School. In the November elections, Pauling receives 2,694 write-in votes for United States Senator from California.
  • 1963: Files a libel lawsuit against William F. Buckley's National Review. On October 10, the day that a partial nuclear test ban treaty goes into effect, the Nobel Peace Prize Committee of the Norwegian Parliament announces the awarding of the 1962 Nobel Peace Prize to Linus Pauling. Reaction by the U.S. media is largely negative ? Life magazine declares the announcement "A Weird Insult from Norway". At the end of October, Pauling announces that he has accepted an appointment, effective November 1, as a research professor at the Center for the Study of Democratic Institutions in Santa Barbara, California. He leaves C.I.T. after a forty-two year association. On December 10 in Norway, Pauling receives the Nobel Peace Prize for 1962. Resigns from the American Chemical Society because of his dissatisfaction with the attitude of the Society toward him, the bomb-test suits, and his Nobel Peace Prize.
  • 1965: On August 12, eight Nobel Peace Prize winners issue an urgent appeal to world leaders for an immediate cease-fire and political settlement of the Vietnam War. Pauling, Albert Schweitzer, and Martin Luther King, Jr. are among the signers. Announces a new theory of the structure of the atomic nucleus. The basic idea of his theory is that protons and neutrons are combined into spherons. He publishes "The Close-Packed-Spheron Theory and Nuclear Fission" in Science.
  • 1967: Takes a one-year leave of absence from the Center for the Study of Democratic Institutions to accept a position as professor of chemistry at the University of California in San Diego. In December, Ava Helen is hospitalized after suffering a small stroke. She recovers completely.
  • 1969: Accepts an appointment at Stanford University as Professor of Chemistry.
  • 1970: Publishes "Evolution and the Need for Ascorbic Acid" in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS). Awarded the International Lenin Peace Prize for 1968-1969. Publishes Vitamin C and the Common Cold. The book becomes a best seller and will win the Phi Beta Kappa Book Award in 1971 as one of the most distinguished and important works published in 1970.
  • 1971: Dr. Ewan Cameron notifies Pauling of his work in Scotland with cancer patients. Pauling replies, stating that he feels strongly that ascorbic acid may be of great value in the prevention and treatment of cancer. This correspondence marks the start of a fruitful collaboration.
  • 1972: Cameron and Pauling submit a paper, "Ascorbic Acid and the Glycosaminoglycans: An Orthomolecular Approach to the Treatment of Cancer and Other Diseases," to PNAS. In a controversial decision, PNAS decides not to publish the work.
  • 1973: Named Director of the Laboratory of Orthomolecular Medicine, a forerunner of the Linus Pauling Institute. Pauling and David Hawkins edit Orthomolecular Psychiatry: Treatment of Schizophrenia. Linus and Ava Helen travel to the People's Republic of China. They are among the first Americans to do so in the era of detente.
  • 1974: The Institute of Orthomolecular Medicine changes its name to the Linus Pauling Institute of Science and Medicine. Pauling retires from Stanford University one month later.
  • 1975: Linus Pauling and Peter Pauling publish Chemistry. Awarded the National Medal of Science.
  • 1976: Delivers the Centennial Address of the American Chemical Society in New York. His speech is entitled "What Can We Expect for Chemistry in the Next 100 years?" During the summer, Ava Helen experiences troubles with her digestion, and a physician discovers that she has a large tumor in her stomach. She has a three-quarter gastrectomy and recovers well from the surgery. Pauling publishes Vitamin C, the Common Cold, and the Flu, an updated version of his earlier book.
  • 1977: Governor Bob Straub of Oregon declares June 1 "Linus Pauling Day" in Oregon.
  • 1978: Receives the Lomonosov Gold Medal, the highest award of the Soviet Academy of Science.
  • 1979: First recipient of the United States National Academy of Sciences Medal in the Chemical Sciences. Cameron and Pauling publish Cancer and Vitamin C.
  • 1981: Delivers the inaugural Ava Helen Pauling Lecture for World Peace at Oregon State University. On November 1, Ava Helen is awarded the 5th Ralph Atkinson Award, in celebration of her efforts on behalf of civil liberties and peace. It is her last public appearance. Ava Helen Pauling dies of stomach cancer on December 7, following an illness that lasted 5 years and 3 months.
  • 1982: In June, Pauling takes a sentimental trip to Oregon and Washington. He revisits several places where he and Ava Helen spent time together. He sees, for the first time, the grave of his grandfather, Linus Wilson Darling, in the Condon Cemetery.
  • 1983: Publishes the 25th Anniversary Edition of No More War! The American Chemical Society announces that Pauling will receive its most prestigious award, the Priestley Medal, in 1984. Announces the discovery of a new type of chemical bond that can mimic, for small molecules, the kind of bonding believed to exist in bulk metals.
  • 1986: Publishes How to Live Longer and Feel Better. The book makes the New York Times best-seller list. In April announces plans to give all of his papers, as well as those of his wife, to his alma mater, Oregon State University. In December, the first 125,000 (of an eventual 500,000+) items arrive on the OSU campus.
  • 1987: Pauling and Cameron begin to advocate the use of vitamin C in the treatment of AIDS. Delivers a special series of the George Fisher Baker Non-resident Lectures in Chemistry commemorating the 1937 Lecture Series; entitled "The Nature of the Chemical Bond."
  • 1989: Receives the Vannevar Bush Award of the National Science Foundation. Participates in the discussions about "cold fusion" and offers a chemical explanation for what some have interpreted as a nuclear phenomenon.
  • 1991: Publishes an appeal to stop the rush to war in the Persian Gulf. Theorizes, with Matthias Rath, that ascorbate deficiencies are a primary cause of heart disease. Diagnosed, in December, as having rectal and prostate cancer. Pauling undergoes two surgeries to treat the cancer, but otherwise chooses Vitamin C megadoses as his primary form of therapy.
  • 1994: On August 19, Linus Pauling dies at Deer Flat Ranch, Big Sur, California.

From the guide to the Ava Helen and Linus Pauling Papers, 1910-1994 (bulk 1922-1991), (Oregon State University The Valley Library, Special Collections)

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associatedWith Weinbaum, Sidney person
associatedWith Weinerman, Edwin Richard, 1917-1970 person
associatedWith Weisskopf, Victor person
associatedWith Wheland, G. W. person
associatedWith W.H. Freeman and Company corporateBody
associatedWith Wilkins, Maurice H. F. person
associatedWith Williams, Roger J. person
associatedWith Wilson, E. Bright person
associatedWith Wrinch, Dorothy M. person
associatedWith Yost, Don M. person
associatedWith Zewail, Ahmed person
associatedWith Zuckerkandl, Emile person
Place Name Admin Code Country


Birth 1901

Related Descriptions


Ark ID: w60m4sfw

SNAC ID: 73817616