As Pauling was signing his Oath of Allegiance and reviewing his personal copy of the
Espionage Act, dozens of other scientists around the country were heeding Bush's summons,
preparing themselves and their labs for the study of war-making. Before long the
NDRC had access to leading researchers across the country, not to mention the facilities
those researchers commanded. The problem was assigning projects to the proper workers.
First, the highest echelon of the NDRC convened to discuss the needs of the U.S. military,
relying heavily on the advice of NDRC administrators General Strong and Rear Admiral
Bowen. Then, on October 2, 1940, the top NDRC researchers were called together in
Washington, D.C. where the military research priorities were presented. Unfortunately,
issues of high specialization and confidentiality prevented a great deal of discussion
during the conference. As a result, division chiefs found themselves operating through
the country's informal academic networks, bringing on friends and co-workers, calling
in favors, and sending out position requests through word of mouth. The scientific
social network, developed through years of inter-institutional collaboration and staff
exchange was set abuzz with the call to war.
Pauling was initially assigned to Section L3, Division B's "special inorganic problems"
unit, but the newness of the NDRC made unexpected assignment changes a necessity.
In late October Pauling was appointed to Section L4 where an in-depth study of nitrocellulose
- an important component in propellants and small explosives - was underway. This
new position did not supersede Pauling's L3 association but instead worked in conjunction
with it, burdening him with the added responsibility of participating in research
in two separate programs. Pauling accepted the extra workload graciously, intent
on doing his part for the war effort.