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Letter from Linus Pauling to Arnold Sommerfeld. May 16, 1949.
Pauling writes of his pleasure in hearing that Sommerfeld will receive the Oersted Medal from the American Association of Physics teachers. Pauling adds that he has been ill this spring with kidney trouble but has continued with his research on the dissociation energy of carbon monoxide. Mentions past research programs on the structure of metals.


May 16, 1949

Professor A. Sommerfeld:

Munchen, Germany

Dunantstrasse 6

Dear Professor Sommerfeld:

I was very pleased to receive your letter of March 6, and to know that you are getting along well. My wife has received two or three letters from Frau Selmayr during the last two years.

It was a great pleasure to me to learn that the American Association of Physics Teachers had decided to award the Oersted Medal to you, and I am now very pleased to know that in your article for the American Journal of Physics you have mentioned the fact that I was a student of yours at the time when you gave your first lectures on wave mechanics. I often think of the fine period of work and study that I had in Munich, and my wife, too, often speaks about those days. I shall look forward to seeing your article when it comes out. Someone sent to us a few months ago a clipping from a Munich paper in which a summary of your radio talk was given, in which you mentioned me, as well as Heisenberg, as having been among your students. This, too, gave me pleasure.

I have been ill this spring, and have been in bed for several weeks - a continuation of the kidney trouble that has bothered me for eight years now. I am hoping, however, that I will be in better shape before long. All of our children are well, and my wife, too. Our son Linus is married, and is now a student at Harvard Medical School.

While I have been in bed I have been continuing to work along the lines described in my paper in your Festschrift last December, and I have developed a method of deciding what the dissociation energy of carbon monoxide is, and what the sublimation of carbon is. I think that the heat of sublimation is 14-0 kcal/mole, and that the much higher value 170 kcal/mole that has been in favor recently is for some reason in error.

Do you remember that in 1927, when you had been chosen as a Foreign Member of the Royal Society, you sent my manuscript to the Royal Society as the first manuscript that you submitted? Perhaps you have noticed that I was chosen a Foreign Member of the Royal Society last year, and that I have published a paper on the theory of metals in the Proceedings of the Royal Society recently. My theory of metals, based on the idea of the resonating valence bonds, is rather a complex one, and it is difficult to subject it to precise mathematical treatment; but it seems to me to

Professor Sommerfeld 5/26/49

be valuable, nevertheless, and I have succeeded In explaining many of the properties of a metallic system on this basis.

With my best regards to Frau Sommerfeld, I am

Sincerely yours,

Linus Pauling:W

Dictated by Dr. Pauling

Signed in his absence

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