It's in the Blood! A Documentary History of Linus Pauling, Hemoglobin and Sickle Cell Anemia Narrative  
Home | Search | All Documents and Media | Linus Pauling Day-By-Day
Why Hemoglobin?
<  3  >

Hemoglobin fascinated Pauling throughout his life. He began experimenting with it in the early 1930s and continued to write about it until his death in 1994. Since Pauling found hemoglobin intriguing, he learned all he could about it, chemically, biologically and structurally. The exact structure of hemoglobin was determined in 1959 by Max Perutz of Cambridge University; however, prior to then Pauling knew as much as anyone about its structure.

In 1935, Pauling chose hemoglobin as one of his first organic substances to investigate. Several motives elucidate his decision. Hemoglobin is easily obtainable. During this time, the 1930s and 1940s, no one knew for sure which substance in the human body controlled heredity, but most scientists believed proteins, such as hemoglobin, held the secret to life. Proteins are fragile substances to study, and hemoglobin's accessibility enhanced its allure. Hemoglobin can be studied by x-ray crystallography, a technique Pauling had learned while working with inorganic compounds as a graduate student. Also, hemoglobin is a rather large macromolecule, but it can be broken down and analyzed in sections – which is exactly what Pauling did.

Previous Page Next Page

Audio Clip  Audio: The Nature of Hemoglobin. January 17, 1983. (1:44) Transcript and More Information

Get the Flash Player to see this audio player.


See Also: "Hb and O2 equilibrium." February 20 - March 7, 1935. 
See Also: "Outline of Experiments on Hemochromagen." June 25, 1935. 

Click images to enlarge 

Picture
Linus Pauling, in lecture at California Institute of Technology. 1935.


Page 1
"Hemoglobin and Magnetism." May 12, 1937.

"It [hemoglobin] is a good substance from the standpoint of a chemist, because of its availability. All you need to do is to catch somebody, introduce a hypodermic needle and draw out a sample of blood. A standard victim of this practice, weighing perhaps 120 pounds (it's easier to catch them small!) contains in the red corpuscles in his blood one and two-tenths pounds of hemoglobin."

Linus Pauling
March 30, 1966
Home | Search | All Documents and Media | Linus Pauling Day-By-Day