Linus Pauling and The Nature of the Chemical Bond: A Documentary History All Documents and Media  
Home | Search | Narrative | Linus Pauling Day-By-Day

All Documents and Media

Letter from Linus Pauling to John C. Slater. February 9, 1931.
Pauling writes to say that he is tempted by the offer of a job at M.I.T., but that his position at Caltech has improved to the point where he prefers to stay in Pasadena.


February 9, 1931

Professor John C. Slater,

Department of Physics,

Massachusetts Institute of Technology,

Cambridge, Mass.

Dear John:

Your invitation to come to M.I.T. has attracted me especially because of the opportunity it would provide to work with you; for I have come to realize that there is no theoretical physicist whose work interests me more than yours. During the last two weeks I have tried to decide whether or not the chance of my ultimately coming to M.I.T. is great enough to justify extensive discussion and perhaps a trip East; and now I am afraid that it is not, for the following reasons.

My position here at the Institute and the Institute itself have been improving rapidly. The Institute is a very pleasant place to work, and Pasadena a pleasant place to live. Last summer I was surprised with a significant increase in salary, and my full professorship is effective next year. I teach only a graduate course in some phase of theoretical chemistry in which I am interested. My research is well supported - I have two full-time assistants, one for routing X-ray work; the other, Dr. Sturdivant, is now constructing a very sensitive and accurate ionization spectrometer. In addition Dr. Podolsky is working with me on molecular structure. I could hardly ask for better support of my researches.

If I were to come to M.I.T., I should desire an appointment in physics or in physics and chemistry. And yet I am really not very much interested in physics, but rather in what may be called structural chemistry, and so I prefer being in a chemistry department. Here there are several men in our chemistry department whose interests touch on mine - Tolman, Badger, Dickinson, and Yost especially. Then I enjoy my annual trip to Berkeley very much too. It is true, however, that at M.I.T. sould [sic] probably benefit more from contact with the physicists, especially you, than I do here.

Slater-2 2-9-31

If I were at all dissatisfied here, your tempting invitation would bring me East. But with conditions as they are here now I feel that, with deep personal regret at missing the opportunity of working with you on the structural problems which interests both, I must decide to remain in Pasadena.

My wife, who also regrets not being able to come to Cambridge and at the same time stay in Pasadena, joins me in sending best wishes to you and Mrs. Slater.

Very sincerely yours,


Return to Document Page

Home | Search | Narrative | Linus Pauling Day-By-Day