Pauling's Increasing Involvement in Molecular Biology (1936-1939)
On the occasion of a talk Pauling gives at the Rockefeller Institute for Medical Research, he meets and talks with Karl Landsteiner, the discoverer of the A, B, and O blood groups. Landsteiner has been carrying out experiments in immunology, and he asks if Pauling can explain some of his observations. Pauling cannot, but he learns some immunology from Landsteiner, and he keeps thinking about the remarkable specificity of antibodies in their interaction with antigens when he returns to CIT.
On June 12, Richard C. Tolman, Roscoe G. Dickinson, and William N. Lacey send a memo to R.A. Millikan, suggesting the appointment of Pauling as Acting Chairman of the Chemistry Division, in spite of "misgivings" they have as to "the complete suitability of Professor Pauling for the position." They believe that this appointment should be considered as temporary because they "mistrust to some extent" Pauling’s "judgment as to matters of policy" and his "generosity and sincerity in personal dealings." When Millikan, in the summer, offers the division chairmanship to Pauling, he refuses, stating that, for a number of reasons, the offer does not meet with his approval.
In the November elections, Pauling votes for a Democratic presidential candidate for the first time (the Democrat Franklin D. Roosevelt wins easily over the Republican Alfred Landon).
Pauling and Mirsky publish their paper on the denaturation of proteins in PNAS. It is widely discussed and has much influence.
Pauling is appointed Director of the Gates Laboratory and Chairman of the Division of Chemistry and Chemical Engineering. Before accepting the position, he insists on the title of director as well as chairman, and, commensurate with his great services to CIT, his salary must be raised to $9,000 in 1938. In his earlier refusal, Pauling was clear-headed enough to see that he was not being given sufficient power to run the division in the way he would like, and he was not willing to accept the heavy responsibilities of the post unless he was given real administrative authority.
Pauling and S.H. Bauer publish an important paper on the structure of pentaborane.
During the summer, Pauling attacks the problem of the folding of the polypeptide chain in the protein alpha keratin by using molecular models, but he has no success and concludes that one or more of his assumptions (for example, a planar peptide group and bond lengths as in simple substances) must be wrong (it later turns out that his assumptions are valid and this preliminary conclusion is incorrect).
At the end of the summer (and at the urging of Pauling), Robert B. Corey comes to CIT from the Rockefeller Institute on a postdoctoral fellowship. Pauling gives Corey the task of determining the structures of amino acids and simple peptides (with the view of ultimately solving the problem of the general three-dimensional structure of proteins).
On June 4, Edward Crellin, his third son and last child, is born.
Pauling is George Fisher Baker Lecturer in Chemistry at Cornell University from September 1937 to February 1938. His course on the nature of the chemical bond is based, in large part, on the classic series of papers he published in the early 1930’s.
Pauling publishes in Physical Review a paper on the nature of the interatomic forces in metals in which he uses his valence-bond theory of the chemical bond to explain the dependence of magnetic moments on the number of electrons per atom in the metal.
The Rockefeller Foundation, recognizing the need for fostering research in the important borderline field between chemistry and biology, makes a large grant to CIT and Pauling to support researches to be carried out in the Gates and Crellin Laboratories during the next six years.
In the fall, Pauling begins building a home on a two-acre tract of land in the foothills of Mt. Wilson. He initially instructs the architect to situate the wings of the house at the tetrahedral angle (109.47 degrees), but when this presents difficulties, he settles for 120 degrees (the bond angle in benzene).
The Nature of the Chemical Bond, and the Structure of Molecules and Crystals is published by Cornell University Press. This book, Pauling’s greatest, becomes, according to some estimates, "the most cited book in the scientific literature."
Pauling, who has been continually fascinated by the striking specificity of serological reactions, decides to study the interaction of antigen and antibody in great experimental detail in order to buttress his theory of the molecular complementariness of the interaction of antibodies with antigens and haptens. He brings Dan H. Campbell to CIT to play an important role in this work.
Pauling publishes a paper on the color of dyes. His theory, in which he uses approximate quantum mechanical calculations, enables him to derive some significant results.
Table of Contents
- The Ancestry of Linus Pauling (The Paulings)
- The Ancestry of Linus Pauling (The Darlings)
- Linus Pauling's Childhood (1901-1910)
- Linus Pauling's Adolescence (1910-1917)
- Pauling's Years as an Undergraduate at Oregon Agricultural College, Part 1 (1917-1919)
- Pauling's Years as an Undergraduate at Oregon Agricultural College, Part 2 (1919-1922)
- Linus Pauling as a Graduate and Postdoctoral Student at the California Institute of Technology, Part 1 (1922-1923)
- Linus Pauling as a Graduate and Postdoctoral Student at the California Institute of Technology, Part 2 (1924-1926)
- A Guggenheim Fellow in Europe during the Golden Years of Physics (1926-1927)
- Early Career at the California Institute of Technology (1927-1930)
- Pauling's Great Years of Achievement in Structural Chemistry, Part 1 (1931-1932)
- Pauling's Great Years of Achievement in Structural Chemistry, Part 2 (1933-1935)
- Pauling's Increasing Involvement in Molecular Biology (1936-1939)
- The War Years, Part 1 (1940-1942)
- The War Years, Part 2 (1943-1945)
- The Postwar Years, Part 1 (1946-1947)
- The Postwar Years, Part 2 (1948-1949)
- Proteins, Passports, and the Prize (1950-1954)
- Increasing Involvement in World Peace, Part 1 (1955-1958)
- Increasing Involvement in World Peace, Part 2 (1959-1963)
- The Center for the Study of Democratic Institutions (1964-1967)
- The University of California, San Diego (1968-1969)
- Stanford University (1969-1972)
- An Institute for Science and Orthomolecular Medicine, Part 1 (1973-1977)
- An Institute for Science and Orthomolecular Medicine, Part 2 (1978-1981)
- The Years Alone: Pauling after the Death of Ava Helen, Part 1 (1982-1988)
- The Years Alone: Pauling after the Death of Ava Helen, Part 2 (1989-1994)
- About the Author