In Memoriam: Linus Pauling 1901-1994

With the death of Linus Pauling the scientific community has lost one of its greatest members, a man who has been compared with such scientists as Isaac Newton, Marie Curie, and Albert Einstein.

Pauling’s contributions to science covered a wide range, and he will no doubt be remembered for different things by different people; Chemists will recall his studies on molecular. and crystal structure, summarized in his great book “The Nature of the Chemical Bond”, for which he received the Nobel Prize in 1954. For biologists his most impressive accomplishments are his contributions to understanding the structures of biological macromolecules, and the relationship between chemical structure and biological function. Among the general public he is probably best known for his ideas on the role of dietary factors in health and disease. Unlike his earlier ideas, these have not gained general acceptance among scientists.

Members of Science for Peace will honour him especially for his opposition during the 1950s to nuclear weapons tests, and his support for the cause of peace generally. This required great courage at that period. He was denounced as a communist sympathizer, and lost his American passport for a time. At the same time his theory of resonance was denounced in the USSR as idealistic and non-Marxist. He received the Nobel Peace Prize in 1962.

As scientists, we should all be proud to have had such a man among us.