Oregon State UniversitySpecial Collections & Archives Research Center

“A Liking for the Truth: Truth and Controversy in the Work of Linus Pauling.”

February 28, 2001

Video: Introductory Remarks and President's Greeting Cliff Mead, Steve Lawson, Paul Risser

11:42 - Abstract | Biography | More Videos from Session 1


Cliff Mead: ...In 1986, just before [Lloyd] Jeffress died, Pauling wrote him a letter in which he caught him up on the events of the past year. The last paragraph of the letter related a recent article that Pauling had published in Nature magazine, which had stirred up controversy in the scientific community. A reporter had asked Pauling, "Do you have a liking for controversy?" "No," replied Pauling. "I have a liking for the truth." This phrase, "a liking for the truth," and its surrogate implications of Pauling's passion for discovery, even in the face of controversy, is a theme of this conference, and we hope that you will be enlightened and entertained by what is to follow.

I should like to thank the many people and organizations whose financial support has made this program possible. They include the OSU Foundation, OSU Libraries, William and Michael Rieckmann, the Linus Pauling Institute, Jean Starker Roth, Linus Pauling, Jr., the College of Agricultural Sciences, the College of Engineering, the College of Liberal Arts, and the College of Science. I should also like to thank the staff and student assistants of the Valley Library Special Collections, home of the Ava Helen and Linus Pauling Papers, whose hard work and dedication made the organization of this symposium. In particular, I should like to thank the efforts of Chris Petersen, Faye Harkins, and Prisha D'Andrade. And now I'd like to turn this over to Steve Lawson of the Linus Pauling Institute. [1:45]

Steve Lawson: Thanks you very much, Cliff. I would like to thank the following members of the Pauling Heritage Committee for all their hard work in organizing and planning the events of the Pauling Centenary: Cliff Mead, co-chair of the committee and Head of Special Collections; Karyle Butcher, the University Librarian and Deputy Associate Provost for Information Services; Orcilia Zúñiga-Forbes, Vice-Provost for University Advancement; Bob Frank, Associate Dean, College of Liberal Arts, Department of English; Balz Frei, Director and Endowed Chair of the Linus Pauling Institute, and Professor of Biophysics and Biochemistry; Ken Hedberg, Professor Emeritus of Chemistry; Caroline Kerl, the University's legal advisor; Carol McConica, the Head of Chemical Engineering; Mary Jo Nye, the Horning Professor of the Humanities and History Professor; John Westall, chair of the Department of Chemistry; and Kim Thompson of the OSU Foundation.

It's really very easy to extol Pauling's virtues, and many have done so. Arthur Kornberg, Nobel Laureate at Stanford University, believes that Pauling deserved a third Nobel Prize in physiology or medicine for his work on protein structure and sickle-cell anemia. Francis Crick, who along with James Watson, discovered the structure of DNA, called Pauling the major founder of the science of molecular biology, and counts among Pauling's greatest achievements the development with Emile Zuckerkandl of the molecular clock, which ushered in the science of molecular evolution. Henry Taube, another Nobel Laureate at Stanford, said that Linus Pauling was the person in the public eye that he most admired. Ahmed Zewail may well also have some very nice things to say about Linus Pauling this morning.

Many Nobel laureates have alluded to Pauling as their scientific father or grandfather. Albert Einstein called him a genius. And in a millennium essay published in Nature last year, [Guatam R.] Desiraju of the University of Hyderabad ranked Pauling with Galileo, da Vinci, Shakespeare, Newton and Einstein, among others, as one of the great visionaries and thinkers of the millennium. Desiraju noted that credit for the development of the modern science of chemistry, unlike other sciences - though this point may be somewhat debatable - can be placed with a single individual, Linus Pauling, who provided the map for chemical research for the 20th century. Indeed, Pauling's footprints cover the whole map of science.

Pauling was a complex man who has been called a force of nature and an American hero. I remember him as a very kind, charming, fair and funny man who exhibited tremendous personal courage and dauntless perseverance. It is my pleasure this morning to welcome you to this birthday party for a great scientist and humanitarian, Linus Pauling, and to introduce the President of Oregon State University, Paul Risser. [4:51]

Paul Risser: Good morning and welcome; I think this promises to be a wonderful day in which we'll learn a great deal and have a chance to recognize a really wonderful person. As I think about Linus Pauling, I'm struck by the wide breadth of his interests and contributions, and that style has covered OSU today. In fact, there are five different units who have some program related to Linus Pauling and the legacy that he has left for us. I'd like to recognize those five groups just to give you a flavor of how closely Linus Pauling is interwoven throughout this particular university. The College of Liberal Arts has an annual Ava Helen and Linus Pauling Peace Lecture, bringing notable speakers to campus to talk on that dimension of Linus Pauling. The Department of Chemistry has the Linus Pauling Distinguished Chemistry Lecture, which brings wonderful chemists to campus to spend time with our students and faculty and give a lecture.

All of you know that the Valley Library Special Collections houses the materials of Linus Pauling and his family, and in fact that collection has 500,000 items of the Linus Pauling legacy. It is one of the world's largest and most-complete single-person scientific archives in the world, so it is quite a spectacular collection for us, and clearly a very valuable contribution to science.

The Linus Pauling Institute came here in 1996, as I think many of you know, and it has the mission to understand the molecular mechanisms and the physiological effects of nutritional factors to determine their functions and roles in terms of disease, prevention of disease, and control of disease, as well as to continue Linus Pauling's work in the general area of nutrition. The Linus Pauling Institute has been very, very successful here in terms of the number of faculty members who have been appointed, each one of whom has a connection with other departments on campus. The Linus Pauling Institute has also established the Ava Helen Pauling Chair, and later this year is having a wonderful event in Portland to announce the first recipient of the Linus Pauling Award in Health Research, which has a significant financial award.

Finally, the Department of Chemical Engineering, in 1997, established the Linus Pauling Chair. Linus Pauling and his legacy is wound throughout this entire university, and clearly makes a huge difference at Oregon State University. I would like to thank all of you for being part of it today. [8:19]

As you've just heard, the theme for today's conference is "A Liking for the Truth." I must say that's a theme which all of us should carry with us every day. Our keynote speaker is Dr. Ahmed Zewail, who will talk to us in a few moments. He is the 1999 Nobel Laureate for Chemistry, and the Linus Pauling Chair, Professor of Chemistry, and Professor of Physics at the California Institute of Technology. He will be talking about the historical search for truth in the measurement of time. After having a chance to become acquainted with him last night, I'm sure you're in for a real treat, as you are with all of the speakers today.

Dr. Jack Dunitz, who is the Professor of Chemical Crystallography at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Zurich, will be talking about the quest for a greater understanding in the structure of solids, and in so doing will reference Pauling's early and ongoing passions about x-ray crystallography.

Pauling's most prominent biographers are here today, and you'll first hear from Tom Hager, who is the Director of Communications at the University of Oregon. He'll be talking about the kind of prices that Linus Pauling paid as he searched for the truth in terms of very political issues like nuclear arms and nuclear weapons. I've had a chance to listen to Tom talk before, and I know that you'll thoroughly enjoy his presentation.

You'll also enjoy the presentation this afternoon of Dr. Robert Paradowski, who is the Professor of Science and Technology in Society at the Rochester Institute of Technology. He'll speak on the private controversies faced by Pauling during his early attempts, especially in Europe, to understand the "new physics" and their applications in his work on the chemical bond. Dr. Paradowski has noted that these disputes have involved both moral and biographical issues.

Finally, we'll be treated to words from Dr. Linus Pauling, Jr., who I think all of you know. The oldest of the four children, he'll provide a more personal glimpse into the everyday truths of growing up with two internationally-renowned parents, and he'll talk about life with his father and mother, which will be a wonderful conclusion to the program.

The program will then bring the speakers back together for a panel. The closing comments will be made by Dr. John Byrne, the previous president for this university, who was instrumental in having the Linus Pauling collection brought to Oregon State University.

Let me welcome you again; I think today will be an absolutely fascinating day, a day when we will think hard about issues and be able to enjoy the contributions of a wonderful family. [11:42]


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