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Letter from Linus Pauling to Peter Pauling. February 4, 1953.
Linus writes to inform Peter of adjustments that he and Robert Corey are making to their DNA model. Linus also discusses his upcoming travel plans, his interest in purchasing a new car and his continued work on "General Chemistry."


4 February 1953

Dear Peter:

I am writing to tell you that we have found that the atomic coordinates inour nucleic acid structure need to be changed a bit. One of the van der Waals contacts is too close – between carbon atom 5’ and an inner oxygen atom of the phosphate group to which it is bonded. I judge that I overlooked this contact when I was making the final calculations – in the preliminary structure there were several van der Waals contacts that were pretty small, and I hunted around for parameters that would increase all of them until they were at least acceptable. Apparently I forgot to include this contact in the final process. It will be a few weeks before we have finished the job of checking over the parameters again, but I expect them to come out all right – at any rate I hope so.

At the present time I have reservations to leave New York on Thursday 2 April and arrive in London on Friday 3 April, and then to leave London on Monday 6 April. However, Bragg wrote that he and Lady Bragg were planning to go to Brussels on Tuesday 7 April, and I probably shall delay my trip for one day, thus arriving at London Airport on Saturday 4 April and leaving on Tuesday. Then I shall fly directly back to the United States after the Solvay Congress is over. I plan to meet Mama in New York. Then we shall stay for a few days in New Haven, where I am to give the Treat B. Johnson lectures, go to Philadelphia for the American Philosophical Society meeting, to Washington for the National Academy meeting, to Buffalo for a few days, where I shall give the Foster lectures, and then home.

Let me say that we have enjoyed very much having the copies of the London Times and the New Statesman and Nation that you sent us. I hope that you will save up more, and send them to us.

I think that I should get another Riley –essentially the same as the one that I have, but not in such bad shape. Do you think that we could save any money if you were to buy the Riley for me, in England, or should I approach International Motors and put in the order right away? I do not want you to buy it until summer time – anyway, you probably will be so busy with myoglobin that you wouldn’t have time to drive it around. Please let me know at once whether the plan for you to buy it for me is feasible. We are hoping to get on a freighter, probably in Scandinavia, about 20 August, to go by ship, with the car on the same ship, to the eastern United States, and then to drive home across the country. We are due in Tübingen on 8 July. We have a chemistry teachers workshop scheduled for Pasadena from 22 June to 29 June, and accordingly probably shall fly to England about 1 July. This means that we shall have to move right along to get to Tübingen. I hope that you are planning to make part of the journey with us.

I am still working on the job of finishing up the new edition of GENERAL CHEMISTRY. I do not think that it is done perfectly, but it will be interesting to see whether the new chapters are useful in teaching our own freshmen.

Love from

[Linus Pauling]

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