The Scientific War Work of Linus C. Pauling Narrative  
Home | Search | All Documents and Media | Linus Pauling Day-By-Day
Joining the Cause
<  9  >

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.

Previous Page Next Page

See Also: Letter from Linus Pauling to Vannevar Bush. September 23, 1940. 

Click images to enlarge 

Members of the Caltech Chemistry staff seated at the department picnic. 1941.

Page 1
"Pledge of Secrecy." November 4, 1940.

"I would be willing to assume responsibility for work on a problem of national defense, and I am in a position to do this. I myself could arrange to devote a considerable fraction of my time, perhaps one third, to this work..."

Linus Pauling
July 17, 1940
Home | Search | All Documents and Media | Linus Pauling Day-By-Day