as a chemical engineer, Linus'
him to come home and make money, perhaps as a secondary school
teacher. But, from reading some of the textbooks in college,
Linus realized that he wanted to do research. His abilities
and test scores were good enough to get him admitted to a PhD
program at Caltech (California Institute of Technology). He
obtained his PhD at age 24.
One reason he chose
Tech was because they had a professor, Alfred Noyes, who specialized in the study
of atom bonding. After graduation, Linus
went to Europe for three years to conduct research in laboratories
that were at the cutting edge of research on atomic structure.
He then went back to Cal Tech as a faculty member and rose to
the rank of full professor in only three years.
the same year in which he was promoted to professor, Pauling
published the paper that made him famous: "The Nature of
the Chemical Bond." At age 32, Linus was inducted into
the National Academy of Science, becoming the youngest person
to ever be admitted. In his research, Pauling used the latest
ideas about atoms to explain how atoms share electrons and how
this sharing formed a bond to make a molecule.
This is common knowledge today, but we forget that we owe these
ideas largely to Linus. This work was the basis for Linus receiving
the Nobel Prize in chemistry in 1954.
scientists how to study molecules and how to measure the angles,
bond energies, and distances between the atoms in a molecule.
One of his key ideas was to make a "footprint" of the structure
of molecules from the pattern formed by a stream
of x-rays as it passes between atoms in the molecules of a sample.
The technique is called x-ray diffraction. Atoms in a molecule
affect the path of the x-rays in such a way that the pattern
reveals the inner structure of the molecule. Before
he was 40 years old, Linus had made many major discoveries in
chemistry. He showed how molecules participate in chemical reactions,
how magnetic fields affect molecules, how atoms attract extra
electrons, and how atoms become polarized with negative and