Oregon State UniversitySpecial Collections & Archives Research Center

“The Life and Work of Linus Pauling (1901-1994): A Discourse on the Art of Biography.”

February 28 - March 2, 1995

Video: Session Introduction: “The Biographer's Picture of Linus Pauling.” Fred Horne

7:09 - Abstract | Biography | More Videos from Session 2: The Biographer's Picture of Linus Pauling

Related Names: Linus Pauling


Fred Horne: This marvelous event that in fact, you should know, we started planning last summer. The original planning, which was proposed by Bob and Mary Jo Nye, and Cliff Mead, for an annual conference on Linus Pauling. And it started about the time that Mary Jo and Bob got here and several months before Linus died. We were going to do it anyway. The fact that John Byrne...[audio cuts out for thirty seconds]...

We have all of us wonderful memories of Linus Pauling either because we knew him, or because we were influenced by him. In fact, he probably had more influence on the world in this century than anybody else both as a scientist and as a humanitarian. And we all know that and we're all proud of our recollections of him and of course -- especially of course -- at Oregon State University.

I should say two things about the organizers and sponsors of the conference. I've already referred to Mary Jo and Bob Nye, who are the Horning professors of humanities. William Horning was another distinguished alumnus of Oregon State University about fifty years older than Linus. William Horning passed on at the age of about a hundred and one, having amassed quite a fortune as a physician, a public health physician, and we're his heirs. I'll put it that way. And he left all of his money to Oregon State University, some of it's coming in a little bit later, to establish a professorship in the humanities with the purpose of bringing the humanities to the sciences. So Mary Jo and Bob Nye are the Horning professors because Dr. Horning left a great deal of money and that was very good. We honor him.

We also acknowledge again the existence at Oregon State University of the special Pauling collection, of which Cliff Mead is the curator. The collection of the Ava Helen and Linus Pauling papers, medals, notebooks. An absolutely spectacular collection. And those of you who haven't seen it, I hope you'll get to go to the room today or the next time you visit us.

A couple of personal reminiscences of Linus. As a chemist I was in college in the Fifties when I first became aware of him. No I wasn't aware of him when I was in high school, but in fact it seems as if every few years from about 1953 or so on, I encountered the great man in one form or another, usually in person. He gave lectures when I was in college at Harvard. He was about to come to Stanford when I was there as a postdoc, and those of you who are chemists, especially those of you who remember the mid-Sixties at Stanford will recognize that Oregon State University is the only university that has Dewar benzene as its logo. And then as my own professional career progressed, one of course was influenced tremendously by everything Linus Pauling did. The nature of the chemical bond. The first textbook I adopted when I was a young assistant professor teaching quantum chemistry was Pauling and Wilson. When he visited us at Michigan State at the time and told us about vitamin C, the drug store receipts went way up as everybody started taking vitamin C. And in fact one of my students is in the audience today and he and his wife are, how many grams a day do you take?

But I think my fondest two memories of Linus are somewhat unique. I had the great pleasure of being the visiting professor in Iran in 1975 when Linus and Ava Helen came to the third International Iranian Chemical Congress. The venue was Persepolis, the palace of Cyrus and Arius and Reza Shah Pahlavi. And it was really an extraordinary meeting. I have at least five-hundred slides of the Paulings walking through the ruins, the ruins created by Alexander the Great. And Linus enthralled us all at one of the meetings by telling us that the next day he was going to go and talk to the Shah to tell him to stop eating sugar and to tell all of the Iranians to stop eating sugar because they would all get heart attacks and die. They found other ways to die, we're sorry to say. But Linus of course didn't stint, he did it. And then when I moved to Oregon State about nine years ago, of course during that period until his death, he was here all the time. He was here every year, sometimes several times a year. There was a wonderful birthday party for him on his 90th birthday in the Memorial Union that featured students, hundreds of students and a big cake. It was just spectacular. And I think my fondest event in that period was to see Linus and Ken Hedberg and Verner Schomaker and Dave Shoemaker walking across the quad. That's chemistry. Welcome. Cliff Mead.


Watch Other Videos

Session 1: Linus C. Pauling Day Lecture

Session 2: The Biographer's Picture of Linus Pauling

Session 3: The Personal View of Linus Pauling and His Work

Session 4: Historians and Contemporary Scientific Biography

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