Linus got interested
in the chemistry of
He and a colleague,
Robert Corey, showed how amino acids were constructed, and how
coiling of proteins occurred because of hydrogen bonds within
the coils. Later, he and his competitors joined in the race to
understand the structure of DNA. Linus took on the challenge from
a British team consisting of James Watson and Francis Crick. All
of them used the ideas of coiling induced by hydrogen bonding
and the approach of x-ray diffraction to decode the structure
made one wrong assumption about DNA, which Watson and Crick
realized. This led Watson and Crick to draw the correct conclusion
about the DNA structure. In the famous book The Double
Helix by Watson and Crick,
they describe the race to be the first to understand DNA. They
freely admit that the race was with Linus, and they used his
explanation of the structure as the basis for their own thinking.
Linus came very close to winning a second Nobel Prize in chemistry.
One of the students that Linus trained, William Lipscomb, also
won a Nobel Prize.
Linus became very concerned with the effects
of science, which are not always good. For example, in the
as the U.S. and Russia proliferated atomic weapons, he mobilized
scientists from all over the world to pressure the U.S., Britain,
and Russia, to stop atomic weapons testing and to halt the arms
race. For this, he was awarded another Nobel Prize, the Peace
Prize, making him the only scientist ever to receive the Peace
Prize. Linus' anti-war activities led him to be accused of being
a Communist, which he vigorously denied. For several years the
State Department refused to issue him a passport to attend scientific
meetings in Europe. At these meetings, he desperately wanted
to defend his ideas about protein coiling, which were not widely
accepted at that time in Europe.
your mother make you take vitamin C? That widespread practice
comes from the worldwide campaign by Linus to convince people
that large doses of vitamin C will help people ward off disease.
Most scientists accept Linus' position that vitamin C is important,
but not nearly as important as Linus believed.
One reason for Linus Pauling's lifetime of success
is explained by an exchange he had with a high school student:
"How do you get so many great ideas?" the student
asked. Linus replied, "To get good ideas, the important
thing is to have lots of ideas."