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"The Impact of Linus Pauling on Molecular Biology."

"The Impact of Linus Pauling on Molecular Biology." February 28, 1995.
Talk delivered at the Pauling Symposium, Oregon State University.

Learning about Linus Pauling. (2:28)


Francis Crick: The first question I ask myself is not when did I first meet Linus, but when did I first hear about him?

In 1946 I was sitting in an office in London, in the British Admiralty, trying to decide what to do and wondering whether I should go into what we now call molecular biology. I had not had much organic chemistry in school; I remembered there were hydrocarbons and various things like that, but I did not know what an amino acid was. My knowledge was at a very elementary level. Across my desk came an article, or rather I think the account of an article, in Chemical and Engineering News, which said that hydrogen bonds were very important in biology. Well, I did not know two things: I did not know what a hydrogen bond was, and I had never heard of the author who had a rather peculiar name; it was Linus Pauling. That was the first occasion I came across his name. Of course, I asked around, and I heard that a lot of other people, not just ignorant physicists like myself, knew a lot about him.

Not long after that, I bought a textbook, Linus Pauling's General Chemistry, and this was an eye-opener to me, because while I had done some chemistry at high school, I had not done any at university. High school chemistry in those days was taught really as a subject where you had to memorize a lot of odd things that happened. I exaggerate a little, but do remember it was in high school; no doubt, if I had gone on further it would have fallen into place more. But when I read Linus' book, I was very impressed by the systematic way everything was organized. I do not think I ever did learn much of the inorganic chemistry, by the way, but I learned all about the strong bonds, and the weak bonds, including the hydrogen bond, of course. And that really is almost all, I would say, the organic chemistry I know today. By now I have forgotten most of it as well, but what I knew then, I think I got from that book.


Creator: Francis Crick
Associated: Linus Pauling
Clip ID: 1995v.1-learning

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Creator: Francis Crick
Associated: Linus Pauling, Oregon State University

Date: February 28, 1995
Genre: video
ID: 1995v.1
Copyright: More Information

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