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Pauling, Linus (Chemist, Nobel Laureate)



  • Existence: 1901 - 1994


Background: Nobel Laureate, 1954 (chemistry) and 1962 (peace); Caltech professor of chemistry, 1927-1964 (emeritus 1971-1994); chairman of the Division of Chemistry and Chemical Engineering, 1937-1958; Caltech alumnus (PhD, 1925).
Biographical/Historical Description: As the only person ever to win two unshared Nobel Prizes, Pauling was one of the exceptional scientists of his time. His work in the 1930s focused on explaining why molecules form and have the structures and properties they do. He then turned his attention to the application of atomic or wave mechanics to all kinds of chemical problems. By 1951 he and his collaborator, Robert Corey, announced they had discovered the structure of several types of protein molecules. During the 1950s he was suspected of pro-Soviet leanings. Though he disclaimed any association with the Communist Party, he had his passport withdrawn in 1952 and 1954. Despite being threatened with imprisonment, he successfully defied Senator Joseph McCarthy by refusing to reveal the names of those who had helped him to circulate his petition for nuclear disarmament.
Biographical/Historical Collection Notes: Oral History, 1984. This 32-page oral history covers Pauling's reasons for coming to Caltech; his memories of A. A. Noyes, Roscoe G. Dickinson, Richard Tolman; five years spent at Berkeley (1925-30); nuclear physics in the 1930s; Noyes's death; relationship between biology and chemistry at Caltech in the 1930s; Pauling's research in the 20s and 30s; beginning of DuBridge's tenure as president; tensions in the chemistry division; decision to leave Caltech in the 1960s.

Miscellaneous material, c. 1959-1960. Included are interviews conducted by Robert Cohen in 1960; magazine articles, 1959-61; and photographs.

Collection size: 1 box, 0.5 linear ft.

Inventory available at the Archives.

Photo of Linus Pauling (PhotoNet)

Also see: Robert Corey; Chemistry Division Files.

Found in 2 Collections and/or Records: