Linus Pauling and The Nature of the Chemical Bond: A Documentary History All Documents and Media  
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"Linus Pauling, Crusading Scientist."

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

Bond Breakthrough. (2:14)


Narrator: X-ray diffraction with crystals was a new technique when Pauling first put it to use in 1922 at Caltech. A beam of x-rays is passed through a crystal. The atoms in the crystal deflect the x-rays onto a photographic plate. From the pattern on the photograph, it is possible to work out the molecular structure of the crystals. Such as the glycine molecule. That is, the distance between the atoms, and the angles between the bonds holding the atoms together. Pauling added another dimension to his work: the mathematically difficult area of quantum mechanics, then a new branch of physics. Combining quantum mechanics with x-ray diffraction led him to a powerful new theory on the nature of the chemical bond.

Linus Pauling: Finally, in December 1930, one day, I thought of a way to get around the mathematical difficulties – a simplification which made it very easy to get results. And I was so excited and happy I think I stayed up all night making, writing out, solving the equations which were so simple that I could solve them in a few minutes. Solve one equation, and get the answer and solve another equation about the structure of octahedral complexes such as the ferrocyanide ion in potassium ferrocyanide, or square planar complexes such as in a tetracholoroplatinate ion and various other problems. I just kept getting more and more euphorious as time went by and it didn’t take me long to write a long paper about the nature of the chemical bond, and that was a great experience.

Narrator: That experience helped revolutionize chemistry. It led science to a new understanding of both the structure and behavior of all matter.


Creator: Linus Pauling
Clip ID: 1977v.1-bondbreakthrough

Full Work

Creator: Robert Richter, WGBH-Boston
Associated: Linus Pauling, Ava Helen Pauling, Robert Vaughn, Frank Catchpool

Date: 1977
Genre: video
ID: 1977v.1
Copyright: More Information

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