An Interview With Linus Pauling Nobel Prize Scientist

A Plowboy interview with Linus Pauling about nutrition, vitamin C, and the medical establishment.

  • A Plowboy interview with Linus Pauling.
    A Plowboy interview with Linus Pauling.
    Photo By the MOTHER EARTH NEWS staff

  • A Plowboy interview with Linus Pauling.

A Plowboy interview with Linus Pauling, Nobel prize scientist.

An Interview With Linus Pauling

Two years ago, the editors of the distinguished British journal New Scientist ranked two-time-Nobel-Prize-winner Linus Pauling as one of the top twenty scientists of all time . Few students of the history of science would question the wisdom of this assessment. For much of what is known today about the physical nature of chemical bonds . . . the structure and function of hemoglobin . . . the three-dimensional conformation of DNA (the genetic substance) . . . the biological hazards associated with the atmospheric testing of nuclear weapons . . . and the health-promoting effects of large doses of vitamin C . . . can be attributed to Linus Pauling's pioneer work in these areas. As one scientist summed it up, "The forty years of Pauling contributions to chemistry and medicine make up perhaps the single most profound and enlightening body of research an American — perhaps anyone mdash; ever put together."

Linus Pauling's love affair with science probably began in 1910, at the age of nine, when — after Linus had read every book in the house — his perplexed father (a Portland, Oregon druggist) wrote to the editor of the local newspaper, asking if the editor could suggest a book list for a boy with "extraordinary interest and ability in reading". By the time the young Pauling had entered the Oregon Agricultural College (now the Oregon State University in Corvallis), his interest in-and aptitude for — science had begun to blossom in full force: As an undergraduate, Pauling helped support himself by teaching chemistry at the college. (It was — in fact — in a college chemistry course that he was teaching that Linus Pauling first met Ava Helen Miller, now his wife.)

After obtaining his bachelor's degree in 1922, Pauling worked toward — and, in 1925, received — his doctorate at the California Institute of Technology, then — for 18 months — studied in Munich, Zurich, and Copenhagen as a Guggenheim Fellow. In 1927, Dr. Pauling returned to Cal Tech as an Assistant Professor of Theoretical Chemistry. He remained on the Cal Tech faculty until 1964.

Between 1964 and 1973, Dr. Pauling held teaching posts at the Center for the Study of Democratic Institutions in Santa Barbara (California), the University of California at San Diego, and Stanford University. At the present time, Linus Pauling is Research Professor and Chairman of the Board of Trustees of The Linus Pauling Institute of Science and Medicine in Menlo Park, California.

Dr. Pauling has written several books (including The Nature of the Chemical Bond; The Architecture of Molecules; No More War!; Vitamin C, the Common Cold, and the Flu; and two college chemistry texts) and more than 400 articles, technical reports, and monographs. His achievements in science and medicine have brought him 29 honorary doctorates, honorary membership in the scientific societies of a dozen countries, and countless awards . . . including the 1954 Nobel Prize for Chemistry, and the 1962 Nobel Prize for Peace. (No other individual — living or dead — has ever received two unshared Nobel Prizes.)

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