Linus Pauling and The Nature of the Chemical Bond: A Documentary History Narrative  
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"Nobody Paid Any Attention"
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Their distrust of abstract thinking exceeded only by their ignorance of the new physics, most early-1930s chemists responded to the Heitler-London-Slater-Pauling chemical-bond ideas with a yawn. As chemical Nobelist Harold Urey recalled, they were "completely bland about the matter, didn't understand it, and largely, except for Pauling, nobody paid any attention to it."

But A. A. Noyes and G. N. Lewis made sure that Pauling's ideas were given a wide hearing at Caltech and Berkeley, where most chemistry students developed an understanding that this approach was important. A handful of the brightest began to follow Pauling into the field. From the physics side, researchers like Slater and London continued to refine the mathematics of blended wave functions, working out the structure of simple molecules from physical first principles. Their impact on chemistry was muted, however, because they had not mastered the huge masses of empirical facts important to chemists, did not share the same worldview, and did not know which questions were important.

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Video Clip  Video: X-Ray Crystallography. 1988. (1:16) Transcript and More Information

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See Also: Letter from Jack Sherman to Linus Pauling. April 10, 1932. 

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Picture
Linda and Linus Pauling with their pet cocker spaniel, "Til Eulenspiegel". 1934.


Cover
Berkeley Lectures. February - May 1929.

"Just as evolution is inseparably connected with Darwin (and not with Wallace, whose paper on evolution prompted Darwin to write The Origin of Species), so too Pauling and the chemical bond are tightly associated, and Slater's position, though important, is secondary and supportive."

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