Linus Pauling and The Nature of the Chemical Bond: A Documentary History Narrative  
Home | Search | All Documents and Media | Linus Pauling Day-By-Day
HLSP
<  26  >

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.

Previous Page Next Page

Video Clip  Video: Lecture 3, Part 8. 1957. (5:45) Transcript and More Information

Get the Flash Player to see this video.

Click images to enlarge 

Page 1
Letter from John C. Slater to Linus Pauling. January 21, 1931.


Page 1
Letter from Linus Pauling to A.A. Noyes. January 27, 1931.

"The paper of Heitler and London on H2 for the first time seemed to provide a basic understanding, which could be extended to other molecules. Linus Pauling at the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena soon used the valence bond method. . . . As a master salesman and showman, Linus persuaded chemists all over the world to think of typical molecular structures in terms of the valence bond method."

Home | Search | All Documents and Media | Linus Pauling Day-By-Day