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

Comparative Experiences with Urey and Pauli. (3:59)

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Linus Pauling: I was very fortunate, you know I had come from Corvallis, Oregon Agricultural College. During my first year there I studied all of the mathematics that was taught. And from then on, for four years, since I stayed on teaching for a year, for four years I had no more formal training in mathematics. I was eager to know more about mathematics and my background and circumstances were such that it didn't occur to me that I could study by myself and learn more about mathematics in that way. Then I came to Pasadena and for the first time began to hear from the people there about the tremendous strides that physics especially, physics and chemistry were making in just those years. It was very exciting. I realized that it was possible to learn something more about nature.

Harold Urey, who you know discovered deuterium, later on received the Nobel Prize and is now retired living in La Jolla, told me perhaps 20 years ago that perhaps he was lucky to have gone to a similar college in Montana, while I was going, shortly before I was going to Oregon Agricultural College, a place where the intellectual level wasn't very high but where our curiosity became stimulated more and more because we couldn't find the answers to our questions. And then he went to University of California and I went to California Institute of Technology and there were people who knew the answers to a lot of these questions and also knew that there were a great many questions to which the answers had not yet been obtained. And in addition, they knew that there were techniques available by means of which, if you worked hard enough, you might be able to get the answer to the question. This was really a great experience and I think that Harold may well be right that in a sense we were fortunate that our curiosity about the world kept building up, not being satisfied until we reached a certain degree of maturity.

I can't say that I'm sure about that, you have examples on the other side. When Pauli, whose father was a university professor of chemistry in Vienna, was 17 years old he attended the seminar in Berlin on the theory of relativity given by Einstein. And this stripling, at the end of the seminar when the chairman asked if anyone had any comment, got up and said that he thought there was an error in one of the conclusions that Professor Einstein had reached. Well that isn't the end of the story. He was asked to write the definitive article on the great Encyclopedia of Mathematical Knowledge on the theory of relativity. And at age 18 he wrote this definitive article. So he, he, his experience was different. He had available to him at an early age the literature and the teachers that enabled him to move along fast. He said that his father made him go to bed at eleven o'clock at night during term time so that he wouldn't work too hard and he was always glad when term time came because he was so tired-out from working so hard all night during vacation that he needed the rest.


Creator: Linus Pauling
Associated: Harold Urey, Wolfgang Pauli, Albert Einstein
Clip ID: 1977v.66-pauli

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

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