|Politics Vs. Science
Anti-communism and the U.S. passport policy did not alter the history of science in
this case. Instead, three unrelated factors combined to set Pauling wrong. The first
was his focus on proteins to the exclusion of almost everything else. The second was
inadequate data. The x-ray photos he was using, Astbury's, were taken of a mixture
of two forms of DNA and were almost worthless. The third was pride. He simply did
not feel that he needed to pursue DNA full tilt. His success with the alpha helix
had proven that he was the only person in the world capable of solving large biological
molecules. "I always thought that sooner or later I would find the structure of DNA,"
Pauling said. "It was just a matter of time."
Pauling sent in another passport application for travel to England and France in the
summer of 1952, and while talking to the press -- told one reporter, "This whole incident,
to be blunt, stinks."
Pauling's new passport application was discussed intensively at the highest levels
of the State Department. A decision was made to end what had become a public relations
fiasco with minimal fanfare. Shipley's routine refusal was overruled. Pauling was
to be granted a limited passport -- good for a short period of time for travel only
in England and France -- provided that he sign a new affidavit denying membership
in the Communist Party. No public announcement was to be made. If reporters asked,
the official line was to be that "new evidence" had altered the case. Although Acheson
had been involved in making the decision, his name was not to be attached to it in
any way. No other details were to be provided.
Pauling was surprised and jubilant when he heard the news. On July 11 he showed up
at the Los Angeles field office to sign the affidavit. On July 14, his passport was