Linus Pauling and The Nature of the Chemical Bond: A Documentary History All Documents and Media  
Home | Search | Narrative | Linus Pauling Day-By-Day

Audio Clips

"Linus Pauling, Crusading Scientist."
"Linus Pauling, Crusading Scientist." 1977.
Produced for NOVA by Robert Richter/WGBH-Boston.

Solving the Structure of Crystals. (2:14)

Download Audio File (Mp3) File to Your Computer


Linus Pauling: To get the Nobel Prize in chemistry I just..., just am trying to learn more about the nature of the chemical bond. This interested me from the time I was 18 years old in 1919 when there was very little known about it. What makes atoms stick together? I wasn't interested in what makes atoms stick together in my body, that's much too complicated a problem but if you look at a piece of metal like that plaque on the wall, what makes the metal atoms stick to one another. Or if I think about what, what makes the hydrogen atoms stick to the oxygen atom in water. There was very little understanding, practically none, about the nature of the chemical bond then.

I attacked this problem and of course other people attacked it too. I attacked it first by determining the structure of crystals by the diffraction of x-rays. This was a new technique, ten years old when I began. Quite a number of structures had been determined but there was a tremendous field open, a tremendous amount of work that could be done. And then I determined the structure of gas molecules by electron diffraction. And then, or even before that, I had become interested in the theory of molecular structure, quantum mechanical theory of molecular structure. So with my students I worked at, at this, this basic problem of molecular structure and chemical bonding in a whole lot of ways. In 1931 I published a paper that clarified, oh, half a dozen, or a dozen, important points, answered a lot of questions. And in 1932 and '33 I published papers that answered more questions. And there are still questions to be answered but a lot of clarification was introduced. So it was partially experimental and partially theoretical.


Creator: Linus Pauling
Clip ID: 1977v.66-bonda

Full Work

Creator: Robert Richter, WGBH-Boston
Associated: Linus Pauling, Ava Helen Pauling, David Shoemaker, E. Bright Wilson, Jr., Frank Catchpool

Date: 1977
Genre: sound
ID: 1977v.66
Copyright: More Information

Previous Audio Clip 
   A Seminar to Einstein.

Home | Search | Narrative | Linus Pauling Day-By-Day