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Linus Pauling

 
 

Linus Carl Pauling, an American chemist, peace activist, author and educator was of the greatest and most prominent chemists to have ever lived in the 20th Century. He was the first of a few scientists who made significant contributions to quantum chemistry and molecular biology. Pauling remains the only person to receive the Nobel price for both Physics and Chemistry.

Linus Pauling
Linus Pauling
 

Linus Pauling was born to Herman Henry William Pauling and Lucy Isabelle Darling on 28th February, 1901 in Portland, Oregon. His father died when he was about 9-years-old and he was left under the custody of his mother, Lucy. As a child, Linus was interested in reading a lot of books. He was so taken up by chemistry that he started a small laboratory with his friend and offered to butterfat samplings at a low cost. But they did not flourish in this business and so had to close it down.

Pauling had to go through a lot of problems during his teenage years. He was denied a high school diploma because he did not have enough money to pursue his education. So he started doing odd jobs and earning himself the money he required to continue his education.

He rejoined his school using the money he had saved up. He went on to pursue graduation in the field of chemical engineering and later joined the California Institute of Technology to further enhance his knowledge. Pauling researched the crystal structure of minerals and published seven papers on them. This earned him a Ph.D in Physical Chemistry and Mathematical Physics.

While Studying at Oregon State University he was fascinated by Quantum theory and Quantum mechanics. Pauling was given an opportunity to study under the guidance of three eminent scientists - German physicist Arnold Sommerfeld in Munich, Danish physicist Niels Bohr in Copenhagen, and Austrian physicist Erwin Schrödinger in Zurich.

This opportunity helped him to acquire much knowledge in quantum mechanics and he decided to study about the use of quantum mechanics in determining the atomic structure of atoms and molecules. Linus Pauling became an integral part of the professional chemistry fraternity, Alpha Chi Sigma.

His continuous research on atomic structure of crystals helped him to postulate five important rules known as Pauling's rules. He introduced the concept of hybridization of atomic orbitals and the tetravalency of the carbon atom in one his papers which was considered as the most important of his findings. He was awarded the Langmuir prize for his contributions in 1931.

During one of his trips to Europe, Pauling learned about diffraction using electrons. This inspired him to build an electron diffraction instrument that he used to observe the molecular structure of different chemical substances. He put forth the concept of electronegativity in 1932 and introduced the Pauling Electronegativity Scale, a scale used in identifying the nature of atomic or molecular bonds.

Pauling also carried out much research and introduced new concepts and ideas in the field of molecular biology, molecular genetics, molecular medicine and medical research.
But it was his research in identifying the nature of chemical bonds that got him the Nobel Prize in Chemistry in 1954. His book "The Nature of The Chemical Bond" continues to be one of the most important and much sought after text books even today.

Apart from this he has also found out new concepts in the field of organic and inorganic chemistry. Pauling passed away on August 19th 1994 due to prostrate cancer. His name was included among 20 other scientists who were the most influential ones that ever lived. His diverse interests and contributions to different fields have made him one of the most notable figures that ever lived in the 20th century.

Rumor has it

Linus Pauling was said to have been abducted by aliens and used for certain unsavory sphincter probe experiments in which he had to "bah" like a sheep in order to be released. When giving his speech after receiving the Nobel Prize Pauling is said to have bah'ed several times repeatedly because of mini episodes of PTSD.

Written by Kevin Lepton

 

 

 

 

 
     

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


 

 


 

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