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Letter from Linus Pauling to W.L. Bragg. December 15, 1959.
Pauling writes that he feels that the nomination of Perutz and Kendrew for a Nobel Prize is premature because much of their most important work has yet to be published. He supports, however, the nomination of Watson and Crick, but believes their prize should be in physiology and medicine rather than chemistry. In Watson and Crick's stead, Pauling proposes that Dorothy Hodgkin and J. M. Bijvoet be nominated for the chemistry prize for their work with x-ray diffraction as it applies to chemical problems.


15 December 1959

Sir Lawrence Bragg, F.R.S.

Davy Faraday Research Laboratory

The Royal Institution

21, Albemarle Street

London, W.l, ENGLAND

Dear Bragg:

I have been pleased to consider the matter raised in your letter of 9 December.

With respect to Perutz and Kendrew, I must say that it seems to me that the nomination for a Nobel Prize is premature. The work is assuming greater and greater significance, but the most significant papers have not yet been published. Even after their publication, some time will have to go by before their evaluation has been achieved. I look forward with great interest to the publication of the papers that are mentioned in your summary of their work.

The work of Watson and Crick is in a different category, and I would be willing to write a supporting letter for their nomination for a Nobel Prize. It seems to me, however, that their work constitutes a contribution in the field of biology, rather than of chemistry, and I think that it would be appropriate for a Nobel Prize in physiology and medicine to be awarded to them, rather than a Nobel Prize in chemistry.

With respect to x-ray diffraction and chemistry, I have a proposal to make to you, and I should be glad to have your opinion about it. I should like to nominate Dorothy Hodgkin and J. M. Bijvoet for a Nobel Prize in chemistry, to be divided between them. The award would be for their use of x-ray diffraction in the solution of chemical problems, the determination of the structure of penicillin and cobalamine, in the case of Dorothy Hodgkin, and the determination of the correct absolute configurations of asymmetric molecules, in the case of Bijvoet. Would you support this nomination?

With best regards, I am

Sincerely yours,

Linus Pauling:jh

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