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Linus Pauling (1901-1994)
A British journal included only Linus and Einstein from the 20th Century in their list of the greatest scientists in the history of the world. As you will see, Linus made major discoveries about proteins.Linus Pauling Image

Some scientists are born with a silver spoon in their mouth. But not Linus Pauling, who has been ranked among the greatest scientists of all time. 

From age 4 to 9, Linus lived in a small Oregon town, which was like an outpost in the Old West. The town had one street, lined by stores with false fronts on many of the buildings, like you see on cowboy movie sets today. Cowboys lounged in front of the general store and Indians camped on the edge of town. His father, Herman, was a self-taught pharmacist and "medicine man". He ran a drug store in town. Maybe that is why Linus developed a lifelong interest in chemistry. The family was very poor. In fact they had to move to town in order to get help from his mother's family. But Linus was happy. For him, life was cowboys and Indians.

But Linus' happy childhood came to an end at age 9 when his father died.

His mother struggled alone to raise Linus and his two younger sisters. Linus found comfort in reading and collecting insects and minerals. By age 9, he had already read the entire Bible and Darwin's book, "Origin of the Species." His father had made certain that Linus read important books. However, in those days good books were hard to find in a frontier town.

Linus' interest in chemistry apparently came from his childhood experiences with Chemist Imagea chemistry set that a playmate had. They spent many hours tinkering with it. They also spent many happy hours collecting rocks and minerals in a creek bed near town. Linus wondered about the rocks' and minerals' internal structures, the part that could not be seen by the eye. Many years later, he answered some of those questions in a research lab.

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