Thomas Hager: You said that when you got your citation for your Presidential Medal of Merit-
Linus Pauling: Medal for Merit.
Thomas Hager: Yes, for Merit. The citation mentions some things, but you had said in an interview,
that it did not mention the most important of your contributions because they were
classified at the time, in terms of you wartime work. Is it possible for you to outline
what those contributions were, now?
Linus Pauling: Paradowski says that I was in charge of fourteen different investigations, and someone
connected with the War Department came to see me a few years ago...perhaps only three
years ago...Duncan, I'm not sure that that is his name. I hadn't seen him since the
war, but he said that my most important contribution - Corey, Verner and many others
were involved in this work - was on the stability of double base powders, nitroglycerin
and nitrocellulose powders. But we found a much better stabilizer than had been used,
and this is used in all powders now. So, I didn't take out a patent on that. We
set up a laboratory, an installation, for measuring the stability of the powders at
elevated temperatures so that we could speed up decomposition, and carried out chromatographic
analyses to find out what was happening to the stabilizers and other powder constituents.
We sort of revolutionized powder chemistry by introducing chromatographic analysis.