Quantum mechanics, as the physicist Victor Weisskopf later noted, had finally united
the two great fields of physics and chemistry. By using the rules of the new physics
to explain the bonding of atoms into molecules, Slater and Pauling consummated the
marriage. The physicists had been right: Electrons moved in their orbits, they did
not sit still on dry goods boxes. But in very important ways, the chemists, especially
G. N. Lewis, had also been right. Electron orbitals were concentrated in certain directions,
and bonds resulted from sharing electrons. Slater and Pauling showed how the physicists'
new quantum principles resulted, logically and with at least approximate mathematical
validity, in the molecules seen by chemists.
The importance and novelty of Pauling's work was underscored when his first paper
was published just six weeks after being received by the JACS, a surprisingly short
time compared to the normal waiting period of several months. Pauling was later told
that the journal's editor, Arthur Lamb, could not think of anyone qualified to referee it and ran it without review.