Linus Pauling: The Chemist Who Received Two Nobel Prizes 

Linus Pauling is one of the most acclaimed chemists of all time. He was the recipient of two Nobel Prizes, one in 1954 for his fundamental work on the nature of chemical bonds and another in 1962 for his research in the structure of proteins. Not only did Pauling make groundbreaking discoveries in both chemistry and physics, but he also became an influential figure in global politics, advocating nuclear disarmament. In this article, we will explore Pauling’s incredible work and life, ultimately examining why he is remembered as one of the most influential chemists of the 20th century.

Who Was Linus Pauling? 

Linus Pauling was born on February 28th, 1901 in Portland, Oregon. His parents were Irish immigrants and he studied chemical engineering at Oregon Agricultural College. In 1922, Pauling received a PhD in physical chemistry from the California Institute of Technology and began his first job as an assistant professor at Caltech. Pauling married Ava Helen Miller in 1923, and the couple had four children together. Although Pauling was an incredible chemist, he also dedicated a great deal of his time to politics and peace activism.

Pauling’s Contributions to Molecular Science

 Pauling was a leader in the field of molecular science. He published nearly 300 scientific papers and wrote and co-wrote several books but is best known for his two Nobel Prize-winning achievements.

The Nature of Chemical Bonds 

One of the main achievements for which Pauling won his first Nobel Prize was his description of how atoms bond and his innovative insights into molecular shapes. He developed the valence bond theory and the concept of hybridization of atomic orbitals which changed the way chemists think about molecular structure. Pauling also conducted research into non-integral bond orders and electronegativity, which served as the foundation for much of the current understanding of chemical reaction mechanisms.

The Structure of Proteins 

Pauling received a second Nobel Prize for his work on the structure of proteins. He surmised that proteins are composed of chains of amino acids joined together by peptide bonds. Using the principles of x-ray crystallography and the laws of thermodynamics, Pauling was able to determine the three-dimensional structure of proteins. His work in this area was not only critical to the understanding of proteins and proteins biochemistry, but it also opened the door to understanding illnesses such as sickle-cell anemia, hemophilia, and cystic fibrosis.

Pauling and Activism 

In addition to his scientific accomplishments, Pauling was an avid social activist. He fought for disarmament, an end to nuclear weapons testing and the peaceful use of atomic energy. In 1957, Pauling published a book entitled “No More War!” which condemned nuclear weapons and called for worldwide disarmament. The book earned Pauling an honorary degree from Exeter University in England, and in 1962 he was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in recognition of his efforts in the fight against nuclear weapons.

Why Linus Pauling Was a Revolutionary 

Linus Pauling’s innovative work in chemistry, physics, and nuclear disarmament changed the world. His research into the nature of chemical bonds enabled chemists to better understand the fundamentals of molecular structures and reactions, while his research into the structure of proteins provided an essential foundation for understanding protein biochemistry and diseases caused by genetic mutations. Furthermore, Pauling’s involvement in national and international political affairs resulted in a heightened awareness of the dangers of nuclear weapons and ultimately contributed to increased efforts to achieve global disarmament. Pauling will be remembered for centuries to come as one of the most influential chemists of the twentieth century.