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Letter from Linus Pauling to J. Holmes Sturdivant. February 21, 1948.
Pauling writes to discuss his research on the structure of metals. Pauling notes that through "a great stroke of luck" he has recently made a breakthrough in his understanding of the valency of metals.


AIR MAIL, Balliol College

Oxford, England

Feb. 21, 1948

Prof. J. H. Sturdivant

Gates Laboratory

California Institute of Technology

Pasadena 4, California

Dear Holmes:

I have just received the check for the equivalent of $100 (£24.13.10) made out to Mr. F. C. Romeyn, and I shall turn it over to him at once.

I have asked Romeyn to continue to work through the months of March, April, May, and June, and have told him that we would make him an additional grant of $l00 per month for this period of four months. Would you please arrange to have the sum sent to him (probably , in a letter addressed to me, as was the first check). Romeyn has turned out to be a good man, with interesting ideas. He knows a lot about the properties of metals and intermetallic compounds, including the magnetic properties, and has developed independently the idea that a considerable transfer of electrons from one atom to another takes place in a number of the metal1ic compounds.

The metal work is going along very well. David Shoemaker has been getting some lateraling results, by a method which is a development of the method of cells. Hans Kuhn has continued to make calculations about hybridized orbitals, and Romeyn is working along the lines mentioned above.

I have just had a great stroke of luck. While giving my lecture on Tuesday I suddenly realized that a calculation about resonance energy of metals that I had just made and was reporting contained the key to the strange valence numbers and numbers of atomic orbitals and unused orbitals that have turned up in my theory of valency of metals. I have now been working the whole business out, and all of the mystery has now vanished. The new treatment not only provides a pretty good theoretical derivation of all of the valence numbers, including (though not in quite so straightforward a way) the anomalous ones for chromium and manganese, but also provides an explanation of why gray and white tin assume the

structures that they have. There seems to be a suggestion of an explanation of the anomalous axial ratios of zinc, cadmium, and mercury, and of other peculiarities, but I am not sure how well these matters will develop.

It became cold yesterday, and about an inch of snow fell (rather, day before yesterday), and it has begun to snow again today. The temperature is about 24° F., and it looks as though we are in for a cold spell. However, our little apartment is equipped with a lot of coal, and several electric heaters, and we are not expecting to be cold. I sit right up against the electric heater in my room in Balliol, where I do most of my work, and manage to keep quite comfortable.

Has any report been sent in on the Carbide and Carbon metals Fund since I left? I am writing a brief report, and shall send a copy to you. Perhaps the best thing would be for Soldate and Fred Ewing to send a statement to me about their activities, for inclusion in the next report.

Sincerely yours,

Linus Pauling:par

P.S. Dr. Sturdivant:

The understanding we had with Dr. Romeyn was that he was to receive for the winter term and then more if he stayed on into next term. As he is leaving, I am returning the check herewith.

Priscilla Roth

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