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Correspondence

Letter from Linus Pauling to Robert Corey. February 3, 1948.
Pauling discusses various people that he has seen in England as well as the projects on which they are working. He also suggests that Caltech look into hiring a full-time post-doctorate who would work at gathering data for crystalline proteins.

Transcript

AIR MAIL

Balliol College;

Oxford, England

Feb. 3, 1948

Dr. Robert B. Corey

Crellin Laboratory

California Institute of Technology

Pasadena 4, California

Dear Bob:

I hope very much that you are getting along well, and are using good judgement about going back to work. It would be much better for you to stay an extra couple of months at home now than to get up prematurely and have to go back to bed again later on.

I haven't seen very much of the crystallographers here so for—having been kept very busy with everything else. I have, however, seen a lot of Dorothy Hodgkin. Also a young fellow named Poiser came from London the other day to talk to me about working in America for awhile—he has been in charge of the cement project in Bernal's research institute. I doubt that there is anything that we would want to do for him. However, he did make an interesting statement, that he was associated with Bunn in the fly's -eye investigation of penicillin, and is very optimistic about this method. He said that it would be possible to try, say, fifty or sixty proposed structures for an organic compound of moderate complexity in a reasonable length of time—that the intensity comparison could be made for a structure with a total outlay of time of about two hours for one man. This would mean that perhaps two or three weeks would be required to try the fifty or sixty structures. His enthusiasm is so great that I think that it would be desirable to have Jerry or someone else look into the fly's-eye method, to see whether or not we should adopt it. It might be very helpful with the amino acids and simple peptides.

Dr. Corey Feb. 3, 1948

Also I saw Perutz for an hour a couple of days ago—he was up on a visit from Cambridge. He said that one of the men there has got very interesting results with myoglobin. Its molecular weight is, of course, only 17,000, and the crystal contains two of these molecules in the monoclinic unit, with a two-fold screw axis. The unit is 30 Å. along the b axis, and about 65 Å. On each of the other two axes, with a 73 angle between them. He describes the molecule as a pancake 65 Å. In diameter and 15 Å. Thick, and says that the data (Patterson) show that there is a single polypeptide chain, folded presumably into an alpha-carotid fold, and then zig-zagging back and forth in the plans to give the pancake molecule. Also the optical date show that the one heme group is perpendicular to the plane—that is, the plane of the heme group is parallel to the b axis, and presumably this group is attached to the pancake at one edge.

All of this suggests to me that we should get some full-time post-doctorate man at work gathering data for crystalline proteins. Will you see what can be done about this?

With best regards, to Mrs. Corey also, I am

Sincerely yours,

Linus Pauling:par

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