The jockeying for position was delicately done: Pauling and Slater liked each other
and respected each other's work. A few weeks before either paper came out, Slater
offered Pauling a full professorship at MIT in physics, chemistry, or any combination
of the two; in Pauling's "thanks but no thanks" reply (he had, by that time, been
promised his own full professorship at Caltech), he wrote Slater, "There is no theoretical
physicist whose work interests me more than yours." After reading Pauling's JACS paper,
Slater wrote, "I am glad things worked out as they did, we both deciding simultaneously
to write up our ideas. I haven't had a chance to read yours in detail yet, but it
looked at first sight as if we were in good agreement in general." Their agreement
was so good, in fact, that before Slater came to speak at a chemical-bond symposium
Pauling arranged in Pasadena for the summer of 1930, he cautioned Pauling, ". . .
our general points of view seem so similar that we shall want to compare notes before
the meeting, to avoid saying the same things."
The two young men had hit upon the same approach to the same problems and would end
up sharing credit for what would for a time be awkwardly called the Heitler-London-Slater-Pauling
(HLSP) theory of chemical bonding — later, more gracefully, the valence-bond theory
— with the consensus that Slater and Pauling had independently reached nearly the
same conclusions at almost exactly the same time.