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Interview with Linus Pauling.
Interview with Linus Pauling. February 14, 1992.
Interview by Thomas Hager for use in "Force of Nature: The Life of Linus Pauling," (Simon & Schuster, 1995).

The Story of Laszlo Zechmeister. (4:40)

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Thomas Hager: You were very active in getting Zechmeister into the United States.

Linus Pauling: Well, the...I had applied with Beadle to the Rockefeller Foundation for a grant to develop organic chemistry and biology or molecular biology and I took a tour - certainly after I was made chairman of the division and director of the laboratories - I toured the United States interviewing a good number of organic chemists, looking for people to offer appointments to. And the Rockefeller Foundation, Warren Weaver, I'm sure, suggested to me that Zechmeister would be a good man because he was doing some interesting work. I think that I was involved in signing letters about his admission to the country to take the job that we had offered him, but the motive for that was to get an organic chemist that I thought would be a good addition to our staff, not to save someone from the Nazis.

Thomas Hager: Yeah, yeah. He had trouble getting his wife, is that correct, I believe out of Hungary.

Linus Pauling: I don't know that he, well, he didn't ever succeed. His wife didn't arrive. I think that she died of an illness of some sort, not in the gas chamber.

Thomas Hager: And of course, Zechmeister turned out to be a wonderful addition to the faculty. His chromatographic work, I think, broke some new ground.

Linus Pauling: Yes. Well, he didn't discover chromatography. He was the most active person at that time in developing the technique. It had been discovered some thirty-five years before by a Russian named Tswett. I'm not sure that Zechmeister was the first one to have revivified Tswett's discovery; I think there was at least one other person perhaps who had started using chromatographic methods. But he was very effective in applying it, especially to the carotenoids. He was a good addition to our department. I think that, well I think that other organic chemists who came to Caltech made greater contributions than Zechmeister. Carl Niemann was a good professor. He was more effective in teaching and administration than in his research. And of course Jack Roberts has turned out to be an outstanding man. He was brought in later, by me in a sense, because I was still chairman as you know from Jack Robert's book.

Thomas Hager: And, from talking to him as well, he told the anecdote of how you smoothed the way to get a female graduate student in.

Linus Pauling: Yes. And also to get his NMR apparatus. In his book he sort of thanks me for my effectiveness in getting the apparatus that started him out on that part of his career.


Creator: Thomas Hager, Linus Pauling
Associated: Laszlo Zechmeister, George Beadle, Warren Weaver, Mikhail Tsvet, Carl G. Niemann, John D. Roberts, Rockefeller Foundation, California Institute of Technology
Clip ID: hager2.006.5-zechmeister

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Creator: Thomas Hager, Linus Pauling

Date: February 14, 1992
Genre: sound
ID: hager2.006.5
Copyright: More Information

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