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Linus Pauling Oral History Interview, May 20, 1980

Oregon State University
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´╗┐IF: Okay, Dr. Pauling, for the record, could you tell me your present address?

LP: Three-eight-five (385) Golden Hills Drive, Portola Valley, California, 94025.

IF: Let's start at the beginning of things. Where were you born?

LP: I was born in Portland, Oregon, the 28th of February, 1901.

IF: What did your father do for a living?

LP: He was a druggist. He learned the drug business in Oswego by being apprenticed to a druggist and I suppose he passed the examination and got a license as a pharmacist. He worked for some time as a drug salesman, traveling 00:01:00around and also worked in drug stores and then he had his own drug store. My earliest memories, so far as I can be sure, are living in Condon, Oregon, in Gilliam County. That is where I started to school. My father had a drugstore there, which had in fact been started by my grandfather, not my father's father, but my mother's father.

IF: Was he also a druggist, your grandfather?

LP: He owned the drug store, originally, but he had other stores, too. He started a general store and had been a school teacher, my grandfather, Linus 00:02:00Wilson Darling, in Eastern Oregon. He also taught school in the Willamette Valley before that and had homesteaded a ranch near Lone Rock. He had started a small general store in Condon when Condon was started as a new town, which became the County seat of Gilliam County. So, I started school in Condon. I went through three grades, perhaps, I'm not sure. My father and mother moved to Portland and then had a drug store on the east side in Portland.

IF: What was the name of the grammar school that you attended while you were in Portland?

LP: I first went to, probably it was called Clay, I'm not sure, for a short 00:03:00time, two or three months. Then I attended Glencole School for a while and then Sunnyside School.

IF: How could you keep track of all those schools, that's amazing?

LP: That's not so hard. Although, I'm not sure what the name of the school was that I attended when I was seven or eight years old in Condon.

IF: How old were you when your father died?

LP: I was nine when my father died.

IF: That was probably a pretty great shock to you wasn't it?

LP: Well, I suppose so. I don't remember well enough what my feelings were.

IF: Did your mother go to work to support your family after your father died?


LP: Yes, she took in roomers and rented rooms in the house that she bought with the proceeds of the sale of the drugstore, I think. She had boarders for a while, not very long, a few people. They had their meals with us. But from then on she just rented the rooms in the house.

IF: Did you try to help out the financial situation also?

LP: Well not when I was nine years old. I had jobs all the time after I got a little older, 11 or 12. I began carrying papers.

IF: Did you have any brothers and sisters?

LP: Have a couple of sisters, a couple of years, three years younger than I who still live in Oregon.


IF: Did science catch your interest early in life?

LP: Yes, I think I would say that. I don't know how it came about. I started out collecting insects when I was about 11. That was something I could do in Oregon, Portland, and in Oswego where my paternal grandparents lived. I went off to Oswego every weekend and visited them. Essentially I caught insects and mounted them, identified them, and read books about entomology. When I was 12, I became interested in minerals. I got books from the library about minerals, copied out tables and information from the books and made an effort to collect minerals. I was not very successful, the Willamette Valley 00:06:00isn't a very good place for most minerals. Agates, of course, can be found.

IF: Where did you go to high school at in Portland?

LP: I went to Washington High School for three-and-a-half years, so that my whole high school career was there. It was on the east side of Portland.

IF: How come they wouldn't give you a diploma? LP: Well, I didn't finish the requirements. I started in February and by June of 1917, I had completed, essentially, the high school course. I hadn't taken a one year course in 00:07:00American History. I planned to have it in my last semester. But there was a rule that said you couldn't take the second half of a course simultaneously with the first half. So, I just wasn't allowed to take American History. I didn't return to high school in the fall, but was admitted to Oregon Agricultural College in 1917. I came down here (to Corvallis) then.

IF: How did you manage to get the funds to go to college?

LP: Well, it didn't cost very much, I had worked during the summer in a machine shop, getting a reasonably good salary for the time. This I turned over to my mother; I was living at home. She sent me 25 dollars a month I 00:08:00think for living expenses, maybe a little more. That paid the fees, which didn't amount to much here at Oregon State. There was no tuition, and registration fees were only a few dollars and books weren't very expensive. I had perhaps 20 dollars' worth of books my freshman year, all second-hand. I'm not real sure about those figures; I'm making them up, but books weren't very expensive. One could buy second-hand textbooks at the co-op, which was approximately here or a block down the street. ["Here" is Administration Bldg.]

IF: What did you study when you went to OAC?

LP: I studied chemical engineering. At the time, the courses in chemical 00:09:00engineering and mining engineering were the same for the first two years and they were part of the School of Mines. So, in my studies of chemical engineering I also studied mining, geology, methods of mining for ores and minerals, fire assay (to help to determine the amount of gold and silver in an ore), laboratory work of that sort, forging (making horse shoes). I didn't actually make horse shoes but making knives; hardening, tempering, I still have a geologist's hammer I made. Of course, there were other courses in chemistry, 00:10:00English, mathematics....

IF: What were your favorite courses?

LP: I think mathematics, probably, was my favorite subject. I was of course very interested in chemistry, my main interest was in chemistry. But, my main subject was mathematics.

IF: Who were some of your favorite teachers?

LP: There was a professor of chemistry named R.K. Brodie, Renton Kirkwood Brodie, who was presenting a freshman course in chemistry. In fact, the group of students, the mining engineers that I was associated with, were not assigned to him. There was someone else teaching freshman chemistry as well, 00:11:00giving the lectures. But, my interest in chemistry was such that I went to his lectures and I was impressed by him enough for me to ask to be transferred to a section to which he gave the lectures. I think that he left at that year and he became vice president of Proctor and Gamble. I saw him once many years later, when I was president of the American Chemical Society in 1949. I gave a lecture in the home town of Proctor and Gamble, and I saw him then. He was a very remarkable lecturer, with much natural spirit and with good logical presentation of the subject. Also, Mr. Johnson, I've forgotten his first name, 00:12:00was teaching calculus, which I studied my first year. It was a sophomore subject but I had got ahead in mathematics by doubling up at Washington High School. He was an excellent teacher of calculus, really a fine teacher.

I remember other teachers, too. Bach, he taught German, I liked him. Later on, two or three years later, Floyd Rowland came as professor of chemical 00:13:00engineering. He was not outstanding as a teacher. His grasp of chemistry and related subjects wasn't really unusual. But he was an enthusiast about graduate work. Well, I think I would have probably decided to go on and do graduate studies; in fact I know I would have, I had that in mind, but Floyd Rowland succeeded in getting a majority of the graduates in chemical engineering in my class to go on to graduate school and get Ph.D. degrees. I think that there were 12 men who graduated with me in chemical engineering that year. I 00:14:00think that one woman who was in chemical engineering had dropped out, because I don't remember her during the senior year. But anyway, I believe seven out of the twelve got Ph.D. degrees and for the class of 1922 doing chemical engineering. This was really astonishing. Most of them did very well in their careers, too.

IF: Would you say that Floyd Rowland inspired you to go on to further graduate work?

LP: No, I wouldn't say that. As I mentioned earlier, before Floyd Rowland came, I had it in mind to go on to graduate work. John Fulton, the head of the chemistry department, had shown me a flyer that he had got from the California 00:15:00Institute of Technology; perhaps it was still called the Throop Institute of Technology at that time, advertising fellowships for graduate students, and he had said to me, and perhaps to Dr. Gilbert in my presence, that it might be a good place for me to go to do my graduate work. I'm pretty sure that I had decided at that time that I should be a chemist and go on to graduate work in chemistry. Of course, one couldn't take a degree here in chemistry at that time, only a degree in chemical engineering. It wasn't until 1933 that, 00:16:00during the depression, changes were made in higher education, and Oregon State began giving degrees in chemistry.

IF: What were some of your favorite activities while you were at OAC?

LP: Well, I didn't have much time for anything but to study and to work. I had a job, after the first year. I worked in the chemistry department, described as being in charge of the solution room. There I made up solutions to put in bottles to put out on the lab benches, chemical desks in the laboratories. I 00:17:00made unknowns for the students to analyze. Later, in my senior and junior years, Professor Sam Graf, in the department of mechanics and materials, metallography aspect of engineering, gave me a job as assistant to him, helping mainly by correcting papers of the courses that he taught. But, I was also helping in the laboratory, too, in now what is called Graf Hall.

IF: Did working and going to school at the same time prove to be a little hectic?


LP: Well yes, it meant keeping on the job.

IF: Did you meet your wife while you were going to OAC?

LP: Yes. I was a senior. At Christmas time the professor of chemistry who was teaching the freshman courses, which meant many hundreds of students taking first year chemistry, approached me down on 6th Street at the railway station as I was ready to go home for the Christmas vacation, and asked if I would be willing to teach, take over the laboratory and recitation for a section of freshman. He also asked if I could pick out three of my classmates that I thought could do a good job in the same way of handling the freshman chemistry 00:19:00section. The staff in chemistry was overloaded, their teaching load was too burdensome for them. So I said that I would, and I picked out three others, Paul Emmett, Alf (Alfred) Robertson, and Orlando Romig. So, four of us then handled it for the remaining two terms.

The first day that I went to class, I had a class book coming from the man, Freddy Allen, who had taught the course the first term. I opened this class book and I went into the room where the class of 25 young women had assembled. The first question that I asked was of Ava Helen Miller, just a name I picked at 00:20:00random out of these 25 names. So she became my wife later, and she answered the question (about ammonium hydroxide) very well. [He looks over and smiles at his wife.]

IF: When were you married?

LP: When? On the 17th of June, 1923. I had come back to Oregon. I had been away for nine months in Pasadena for my first year as a graduate student. I came back then, we were married in Salem, on that day. A day or two later, I began my summer work, which was for the Warren Construction Company. I worked in Portland at the laboratory for two weeks getting some training, although I 00:21:00had done similar work before for the State of Oregon and other contract work. Then we went off into the field of Eastern Washington and Oregon as a paving plant inspector for the rest of the summer.

IF: Where did you live while you were at Oregon Agricultural College?

LP: I lived first on, I've forgotten what street it is, just off of Monroe and perhaps 17th Street, in a rooming house which was a boarding house, too. I got my meals there. Then I moved from there to a house on 9th Street, with 00:22:00another young man with whom I shared a room. Then, in my sophomore year I moved into the Gamma Tau Beta fraternity. When I was a senior, it became Delta Upsilon. The Gamma Tau Beta house was on 26th Street. I don't think it's there anymore. That was where I lived the rest of my time in Corvallis.

IF: Did you ever know President Kerr while you were a student?

LP: I don't think I ever met him. Directly after I arrived in Corvallis, in 00:23:00the fall of 1917, there was a big rally with a couple of thousand of students marching down to the President's House, singing songs that had been made up for the occasion, urging him to stay here instead of going to Kansas State College, in Manhattan, Kansas. So, he decided to stay here. So, that was one of my memories of one of the exciting events during my first year.

IF: What did you think of Kerr as a president?

LP: He seemed to me to be a rather stuffy character. Even in my inexperienced state, I definitely got that impression. But I had no contact with him. I 00:24:00saw him occasionally at convocations, which we were all supposed to attend, I think, as first year students especially. I didn't have any contact with him until 1933, when I received an honorary doctorate from Oregon State, the first honorary doctorate that I got. So then we did get to meet him, President Kerr.

IF: Did you become interested in chemical bonds as an undergraduate?

LP: Yes, I did. I read papers and extracted data from the seminars in the chemistry department. Very few seminars were held the whole period I was here. 00:25:00I gave a seminar talk on the work of G.N. Lewis and Irving Langmuir on the electronic struction of molecules.

IF: When did you graduate from OAC?

LP: June of 1922.

IF: Why did you choose to go to Cal Tech? Was there any particular thing that drew you there? Was it their area of study?

LP: Well, I knew that A.A. Noyes, Arthur Amos Noyes, was there. Since I had used his textbook of analytical chemistry, Qualitative Analysis, I had some feeling about him, at least as a writer of a well-respected textbook. 00:26:00California was close by, as compared to Harvard University or some other school in the east or Middle West. I applied to several places, to Harvard, Illinois, Berkeley, MIT, perhaps one or two others. But, the first letter of appointment that I got was from CIT, and I accepted. Harvard, I had already received a letter from Harvard, but it was clear that it would be harder to get a Ph.D. and make one's own living at Harvard than at CIT.

IF: What was your field of study when you went to Cal Tech?


LP: Physical Chemistry. The research that I began was on the structure of crystals by X-ray diffraction. It was a rather new technique then. CIT was the place where the first American work in this field was done. That was in 1917. They had continued their work there, especially Professor Dickinson, and he was the person that I worked with.

IF: Did you teach while you attended graduate school?

LP: Yes, I assisted in freshman chemistry the whole time that I was a graduate 00:28:00student. I think the last year I gave a special course on electric and magnetic properties of substances, there was perhaps a more general title than that, was attended by advanced undergraduates.

IF: Did you work in addition to going to school?

LP: Only during the summers. In fact, with three years of graduate work, only two summers. The first summer was the summer that I got married in 1923 and worked as a paving plant inspector. The second summer I was given a special grant, a salary to stay on and carry on research in Pasadena so that I didn't 00:29:00have a job and I didn't do any outside work. I just concentrated on my study.

IF: Were you still supporting your family at this time?

LP: Not very much. I had borrowed some money, $1,000, from my uncle and had given it to my mother. I later paid off the debt.

IF: Was there anything in particular in graduate school that really caught your eye, really caught your interest?

LP: [He laughs.] Everything caught my interest. I've continued working on scientific problems ever since.

IF: When did you receive your Ph.D. from Cal Tech?

LP: June of 1925.


IF: You stayed on as a post-doc after you graduated. What did your research consist of during this time?

LP: In those early years, I was working on the determination of the crystal structure of inorganic substances, including a good number of minerals, by x-ray diffraction. I was also attacking various problems by theoretical methods, using the old quantum theory, then quantum mechanics, after quantum mechanics was invented, which was after I graduated in 1925, and statistical mechanics.

IF: Didn't you spend some time in Europe on a Guggenheim Fellowship at this point?


LP: Just before I got my Ph.D., I applied for a National Research Council Fellowship, for the year 1925-26. But, I resigned that in the spring and went to Europe on the assurance then that I would receive the Guggenheim Fellowship. I did get the Guggenheim Fellowship and the Institute had advanced me enough money to go to Europe and it did support me for a month or two. Then the Guggenheim Fellowship came through. That was the second year of Guggenheim Fellowships. There were about 35 fellowships given that year. There had been a 00:32:00smaller number the first year, about 15.

IF: Where did you go to while you were in Europe?

LP: I worked for a year in Munich and then I had an extension of the fellowship for seven months. We went to Copenhagen for six weeks and to Zurich for some months. We traveled about too, to several different countries.

IF: What kind of research did you carry on while you were there?

LP: I didn't do any experimental work. I devoted myself almost entirely to applying quantum mechanical theory to physical and chemical problems.

IF: Did your experience in Europe give you a deeper insight into your chemical 00:33:00bond research?

LP: Well, yes. Perhaps I would have got the deeper insight without going to Europe. But sure, it was a good opportunity to continue my work without distraction, too. The distraction of teaching, for example. If I had stayed in California, I would probably have had some courses to teach.

IF: After you returned from Europe, did you stay on at Cal Tech?

LP: Yes, I was appointed assistant professor, then associate professor, then professor. Then, in 1936, early '37, I became the chairman of the Division of Chemistry and Chemical Engineering.

IF: Weren't you offered the chair of Physical Chemistry at Harvard once?


LP: Yes, in 1929 the professor of Physical Chemistry died. I was offered the post, which I didn't take.

IF: Why didn't you take it?

LP: I thought conditions were better, at least for me, in Pasadena.

IF: Didn't Albert Einstein sit in on one of your discussions of space lattices of crystals? Could you tell me about that experience?

LP: I gave a physics seminar at CIT while Einstein was visiting there. It was not on crystal structure, but on quantum mechanics of molecules, the one that he attended. But he attended other seminars that were going on, too.


IF: Over the course of several years, you expanded work relevant to the nature of chemical bonds of various molecules. Could you give a few examples of some of the molecules you worked with, some of the techniques you used and some of the answers you found?

LP: Well, not in a few words. I used x-ray diffraction to study the structures, to determine the structure of 60 different mineral and inorganic substances, too. Later, people working in our institute attacked a large number of organic compounds in the same way. Later on, we built an electron 00:36:00diffraction apparatus and used it to determine the structures of many molecules, both organic and inorganic. I applied quantum mechanics to the problem of the chemical bond.

IF: In 1931, you received the $1,000 Langmuir Prize from the American Chemical Society for outstanding research in Pure Chemistry. Was this award given for your work on the chemical bond?

LP: Yes, and probably for the crystal structure work, too. I really don't remember what the citation was for. At that time the chemical bond work was just being published. I had published two or three papers earl It was 1931 00:37:00that my main paper on the theory of chemical bonding came out. That was the first time that this award had been given. It was restricted then to people not over 30 years old. The next year it was changed to people not over 35 years old. So [he chuckles], I might have had another chance if I hadn't got it the first year. I was just 30 when the award was given.

IF: How did you feel about the award? Were you really thrilled about it?

LP: Well, I suppose so.

IF: That was your first one, wasn't it?

LP: Yes. I was pleased, I think I'd say [he smiles]. I wouldn't say I was thrilled, but I think I'd say I was pleased. It was a nice occasion to go back East to Buffalo, New York. This was where the American Chemical Society 00:38:00met to have a ceremony and the award was presented.

IF: When you became head of the Chemistry Division at Cal Tech, did these administrative duties draw you away from your research or your teaching?

LP: Not very much. I was able to allocate much of the administrative responsibilities to other members of the department who served as chairmen of committees and who made decisions themselves without bothering me.

IF: When you became head of the Chemistry Division, did you try to change the way it was run or redirect its research activities at all?


LP: I don't know that I did in an administrative sense. Perhaps by example, rather than by edict.

IF: In 1933, Oregon State College presented you with its first honorary degree...

LP: My first, not it's first.

IF: Excuse me, your first. Did this please you?

LP: Oh yes.

IF: How many years did you explore the chemical bond?

LP: Sixty-two or sixty-one, I would say.

IF: So, you're still studying it?

LP: Yes.

IF: You can never find out enough about it, I suppose?

LP: No.


IF: Of all your work on chemical bond theory, what do you feel was your most important discovery?

LP: Well, this is hard to say, what is important. I would say that I've been pleased the most by the work I did on the nature of the chemical bond, which clarified a quite extensive part of chemistry which has been generally useful to all chemists ever since. That was largely in 1931. I had got some preliminary results earlier, in 1928 or '27. Nineteen-thirty-one was when I 00:41:00published a long paper that contained many new ideas. In 1932 and '33, there were some additions made by me to the theory of chemical bonding. In later years, I added more to this theory.

IF: When World War II was going on, you became involved in the National Defense Research Committee, and were later presented with a President's Medal for your work with this committee. What sort of services did you render to this committee?

LP: I think the main thing that I did during World War II was to carry on research projects, or direct them. There were about 20 grants or contracts 00:42:00made in my name to the California Institute of Technology, for work on many different problems, attacks on problems, which I originated. I invented a meter for determinating the partial pressure of oxygen in a gas. This was extensively used during the war. We manufactured them. We had research projects in various fields of interest to our services, dealing with explosives, medical problems. I was a member of Division Eight of the National Research 00:43:00Committee, on explosives. This involved decisions about contracts for grants with various universities. I was also a member of the West Coast Division of the Committee on Medical Research, which was a part of the Office of Scientific Research and Development. But I think the main thing I did was to have ideas of how to attack certain problems that needed to be solved and then to supervise groups of people that were in Pasadena working under grants or contracts.


IF: Did this work with this committee help you to develop your philosophy on war?

LP: No, I don't think so.

IF: What are your feelings on war? You dislike it don't you?

LP: Yes, I'm against it. Who was it, Truman, who said "I'm against Evil." Well, I wrote a book called No More War! In this book, I expressed my feelings about war.

IF: Did you hear that ex-president Strand died recently?

LP: I heard today that he had.

IF: Didn't you criticize Strand once because he refused to re-appoint two professors here?

LP: Well yes, I criticized Dr. Strand and the University for its display of 00:45:00McCarthyism, involving one of my students who was a professor in the chemistry department.

IF: What was your main complaint against Strand?

LP: That his action was improper.

IF: Do you think Strand's action against these men was taken to prevent an association of their view with his administration?

LP: Well, it was a knuckling under to the spirit of McCarthyism which was sweeping the country.

IF: Didn't McCarthy accuse you once of being a communist, too?

LP: I don't remember that he did.


IF: Why did the State Department refuse you a passport in 1952?

LP: The State Department Passport Office gave the reason that it was not in the best interests of the United States.

IF: Did they let you out of the country? The whole thing seems a little silly. Why did the U.S. government choose to harass you this way?

LP: I think it was the same matter, the spirit of McCarthyism. In this case, anyone who spoke out in the cause of world peace was apt to be harassed.

IF: So, in other words, if you went along with promoting war, that was the American way?

LP: Well, it is the same way now. President Carter said when he was running 00:47:00for office, he would reduce the military budget. Now he has advocated increasing it. Politicians in general advocate war against peace in the United States.


IF: Did you protest McCarthyism publicly, at all?

LP: Yes, but it has been so long now, 40 years, I can't remember what action I took.

IF: You received the Nobel Prize in Chemistry in 1954. Do you think that this prize, in the eyes of the U.S. Government, gave you more credibility? Did they stop harassing you for your views on war, etc.?

LP: At least I received my passport. I wasn't harassed in that particular way. Senator Henning, of Missouri, held a hearing on the Passport Office of 00:49:00the State Department. An assistant Secretary of State, who was in charge of passport and security affairs, testified and asked Senator Henning how it came about that I had received a passport to go to Sweden to get the Nobel Prize. . . . Had there been a request for reconsideration, an appeal? He answered, "A self-generating appeal," which caused Senator Henning to ask, "Are you in the U.S. Department of State allowing some group of people in some foreign country 00:50:00to determine which Americans get passports? . . ." Henning was pretty critical of the idea that I wouldn't be given a passport to go to London to speak at a scientific conference that had been set up to discuss my work on the structure of proteins. Then I was given a passport to go get the Nobel Prize.

IF: One of your sharpest criticisms of the U.S. Government was its sanction and use of atomic weapons. Could you elaborate on the activities the government was involved in regarding atomic weapons that you found most distressing?

LP: I've written a book on this subject, I don't think I can do justice to it in the time we have available now.


IF: Just a few comments would be fine, just to set the record straight.

LP: I would be happy if the United States were to lead the world in the direction of morality and peace, rather than lead the world in exploitation and the use of military might.

IF: That's a pretty good summary of the whole thing. How did you protest the government policy regarding atomic weapons?

LP: Well, I wrote a book, No More War! published in 1958. Earlier, I had become a member of the so-called "Einstein Committee" of which Einstein was the 00:52:00chairman, the Emergency Committee of Atomic Scientists. This group attempted to educate the American people about the meaning and significance of having stockpiles of atomic weapons in the United States and the Soviet Union, far larger than needed to wipe out civilization and destroy the human race. Also, to inform the American people of the necessity to develop a spirit of cooperation among nations of the peoples of the world.


I gave hundreds of public lectures on this subject. I attempted, as other people had, to prevent the development of the H-bomb. The decision was made to go ahead with it and as it turned out the first explosion of a nuclear device involving fusion as well as fission was carried out by the Soviet Union. This was just before the United States carried out its first H-bomb test. Actually, I don't think that the development of the fission-fusion bomb really changed 00:54:00things much. It made it more striking when the bombs became 1000 times more powerful than the original atomic bomb. But the original atomic bombs were already powerful enough; a single one could destroy a whole city, such as Hiroshima. Their existence made it clear that for human beings to go on with the institution of war was completely irrational.

IF: So you felt it was sort of your moral duty to protest these kinds of things?

LP: As I was saying, it was the rational thing to do.


IF: You mean that anybody in his right mind would probably do it?

LP: Yes. It's mainly ignorance and thoughtlessness, I think, that permit the American people to stand for the continued waste of the seven or eight percent of our national wealth on militarism. The people are just misled by the politicians and they are actually run by the military and industrial complex.

IF: So, the government viewed your rationality as being subversive then?

LP: Yes.

IF: Is it true that you sued the Defense Department and the Atomic Energy Commission because of their continuance of the use and promotion of above ground 00:56:00nuclear testing?

LP: Yes, I instituted a suit together with other people, but the suit was in my name, "Linus Pauling, et al." A number of other people against the Defense Department of the United States and the corresponding agencies in the Soviet Union, Great Britain, and France, sued to stop the testing in the atmosphere with nuclear weapons, and the spread of radioactive materials over the earth. None of these suits was successful in the courts. Of course, I think that they helped, along with other efforts to get the nations to adopt a bomb test treaty.


IF: Do you think that these suits made the public more aware because they were so widely publicized?

LP: Well, they were part of the effort, yes.

IF: What did your wife and family have to say about your crusade against the bomb? Did they support you?

LP: Oh yes! My wife is here, so she could answer for herself.

IF: Did you feel that your efforts to halt nuclear testing and the support of concerned scientists was the driving force behind the agreement that was signed by several nations in 1952 to stop this?

LP: Well, I just don't know. When I received the Nobel Peace Prize in 1963, 00:58:00which was the 1962 Peace Prize, the chairman of the Nobel committee said (I'll paraphrase it as best as I can remember) something to the effect that no one would contend that I alone could have been responsible for getting the bomb test treaty signed. But, who could believe that this treaty would have been signed if there hadn't been someone who used the facts the way I did for years to the 00:59:00end of getting this treaty made.

IF: Did you feel that with this treaty signed, it was enough to satisfy your objections against nuclear armaments?

LP: Oh no! Because there are still nuclear arms in existence, stockpiles that could destroy the earth. So, the job isn't done just because we aren't being subjected very much too radioactive material from atmospheric tests. These tests still go on to some extent. France, I think, has stopped atmospheric tests. France hasn't signed the treaty. The Chinese People's Republic occasionally carries out a test in the atmosphere. India exploded a nuclear 01:00:00device in the atmosphere.

IF: So, you would like all the nuclear arms to disappear and have us attempt to make peace with ourselves instead of with weapons?

LP: I don't advocate destroying the nuclear stockpiles. I advocate not wasting money in fiddling with them. We might as well save money. I advocate developing international relations and also technological controls such as to decrease the chance that the nuclear weapons will be used. For one thing, I advocate cutting down the size of the stockpiles. I think that to have a great overkill capability is just nonsense. These nuclear stockpiles are 01:01:00supposed to work as a deterrent to world war. If they were to be destroyed, nations might have a greater temptation to start a world war with conventional weapons. Of course, nuclear weapons would soon be rebuilt and used. So, I don't advocate destruction of the stockpiles of the nuclear weapons, rather better control of them, ceasing to waste money on fiddling with them, so-called improvements that make the world a more dangerous place as the technology becomes more complicated. There's more chance of an accident.


IF: Why did you leave Cal Tech?

LP: Well, I got tired after being there 42 years. I thought the situation would be different elsewhere.

IF: Where did you go after you left Cal Tech?

LP: I was for three years at the Center for the Study of Democratic Institutions in Santa Barbara. Then, I was for two years a Professor of Chemistry at the University of San Diego; for five years as a Professor of Chemistry at Stanford University. I'm now Professor Emeritus at Stanford and also at CIT.

IF: What kinds of activities were you involved with at the Center for Democratic Studies?

LP: I participated in their discussions, which were about various world 01:03:00problems, national and international. I also carried on my work in science, which was theoretical work.

IF: In 1975, you were presented with the National Medal of Science during the Ford administration. You were previously refused this award during the presidency of Richard Nixon. Did you feel that this award was an indication that the government was capable of open-minded appreciation of scientific achievement untainted by conflicting political opinion?

LP: No, I didn't. At first I didn't know, or at least didn't have much evidence about what had gone on before. Of course, I surmised that I had been 01:04:00nominated for the Medal. What I felt was, based on the information that I had, that the government had to knuckle under because of the "revolt," essentially, by scientists at the refusal to give me the National Medal of Science. I think it was pure political pressure on the part of scientists. It made it necessary for the president to give in. In this case, it was Ford. I didn't know if he had any strong feelings about this situation.


IF: When did you first acquire an interest in medicine?

LP: It's hard to say. I started working on problems that might be considered medical problems in 1935, when I started the investigation of hemoglobin, the red material in the red cells of the blood.

IF: Could you describe some of your interests in medicine and biology? You don't have to go into a lot of detail, I'll ask you more about some of them in detail later.

LP: I first was curious about the nature of the equilibrium curve between 01:06:00hemoglobin and oxygen and then about the structure of hemoglobin in a more general way. Then I went on to investigate immunity, the nature of the immune system, immunoglobulins and their interaction with antigens. I worked on a substitute for human plasma during the Second World War, an idea that I had about how to make such a substitute. I had the idea of molecular disease, in particular, in regard to sickle-cell anemia. It was that this disease is a disease of the hemoglobin molecule and my students were able to carry out 01:07:00experiments to verify that. I then worked on the molecular basis of mental disease, mental retardation, schizophrenia, other mental illnesses, for about ten years. In connection with that, I became interested in vitamins, which were being used by certain physicians to control schizophrenia, vitamins in large doses. Of course, from that I went into vitamin C and the common cold, flu, and other diseases, and finally cancer.

IF: One of your pet projects in the past few years has been the effect of vitamin C on the common cold and the flu. Could you summarize the mode of action of vitamin C on colds and flu and the evidence you've collected, etc.?


LP: Vitamin C seems to work largely by stimulating the body's protective mechanism, the immune system. Since the immune system protects us against all sorts of diseases we might expect vitamin C to have value against all sorts of diseases. This seems to be the case. People who have the proper intake of vitamin C have a lower incidence of all sorts of diseases than those who have a deficiency of vitamin C.

IF: So, you have found that people who take large doses of vitamin C remain healthier, or have cut down the effects of the cold or flu? Have there been such studies?


LP: Yes. There have been such studies. I haven't carried them out, other people have.

IF: In other countries?

LP: Yes. In the United States, Ireland, various other countries.

IF: About how large of a dose do you think a healthy person should take to avoid catching the cold or the flu?

LP: In my books that I have written on this subject, I suggest that people would be in better health if they were to take between one gram and four grams a day of vitamin C.

IF: You yourself of course take vitamin C, don't you?

LP: Yes.

IF: You've recently written a book in collaboration with Dr. Cameron on the use of ascorbate on the orthomolecular treatment of cancer, appropriately called 01:10:00Vitamin C and Cancer. What theories and evidence do you propose in this book?

LP: Well, the book's called Cancer and Vitamin C, and it involves a discussion of the nature of cancer, the causes of cancer, the prevention of cancer, and the treatment of cancer, in the first half of the book. In the second half of the book there is a discussion of vitamin C, how it functions in the human body, what evidence we have about its role, its participation in many physiological and biochemical reactions, and a discussion also of the observations that have been made, the epidemiological studies that show that it has prophylactic value. 01:11:00Other observations include those of advanced cancer patients who have responded well to a large intake of vitamin C. The conclusion that I and my associate, Dr. Ewan Cameron, reached was that every patient with cancer should take large doses of vitamin C in addition to whatever other treatment he gets. We estimate that significantly more than ten percent decrease in the mortality on cancer can be achieved in this way.

IF: Have many hospitals or cancer centers in the United States taken up your cancer treatment?

LP: I don't have much information about this. It seems to me that I've been 01:12:00told that the use of vitamin C is pretty general. In some places individual physicians and surgeons make considerable use of vitamin C. Probably a large number of physicians and surgeons in practice do make use of it now, I just don't know how many. Many doctors are interested now, especially if they themselves have cancer, they get in touch with us.

IF: Have you received criticism from physicians regarding your suggestion of vitamin C treatment of cancer?

LP: No. I'll make a guess, and try to think back. I'll guess that I've 01:13:00received 500 letters or phone calls from physicians who have cancer or have a member in their family who have cancer or perhaps a patient. I think only two or three have been critical, severely or even moderately critical. Two or three or four, but a relatively small number.

I've given a number of talks in hospitals and medical schools and have got questions from the physicians. Once, there was a man, a professor in a medical 01:14:00school, who got up and made a strongly antagonistic statement to me. Another then got up and called him down and criticized him for what he had said.

IF: So you have got a lot of support from physicians and surgeons as well as from the scientific community?

LP: Oh yes! I think scientists for the most part, have pretty much accepted what I have said in this field. They are, of course, laymen in the medical sense, at least some of them. Physicians, individually, I think are probably not antagonistic. But I think the medical system is such that it is almost required that a medical practitioner use the generally accepted methods of 01:15:00therapy and not deviate from them. If he deviates from them, he may well be faced with a malpractice suit. The defense is to show that he treated the patient in the same way the other physicians in your neighborhood would have treated the patient. Then, you're safe if you had done that. But if you deviate, you are in danger. This is a situation that operates to prevent the acceptance of any idea such as this one about vitamin C, a new idea for the treatment of disease, until the new idea for the treatment of disease becomes 01:16:00acceptable to the medical profession as a whole.

IF: Do you think what you just said is the reason why most people that are involved with experimentation of vitamin C are hopeless cases where the doctors have given up?

LP: I'm not sure that I understand the question. Would you say it again?

IF: Sure. Most studies on vitamin C and cancer have supposedly been done on terminally incurable cases, haven't they?

LP: Yes.

IF: Are the reasons why this is the case that doctors fear malpractice suits and that they feel that with an advanced cancer that they have tried everything else, surgery, chemotherapy, radiation treatment, etc.? In other words, there's 01:17:00nothing to lose by trying to use vitamin C treatment?

LP: Well, this is a practice that is customary in trying out a new treatment. If the patient has a poor prognosis, if it's thought that he's in the terminal state, then there is the question as to whether something new might not be tried on him. This is commonly done. But of course, there's a special reason for carrying out a study of vitamin C. First, it's a much simpler matter to investigate vitamin C than a new drug, because vitamin C isn't new. Human beings are all being exposed to it. All of them have it in their bodies already. 01:18:00There's no evidence of any serious side-effects, whereas with a drug you can always worry about short term and long term side effects that could be really serious. So, it should be easy to study vitamin C, and in fact, it is much easier to investigate vitamin C than a new drug. Vitamin C is a food, not a drug. Now, we can ask how valuable vitamin C would be if cancer patients were given it when they first developed the cancer, or when cancer is first recognized. Most cancer patients live a few years after developing cancer. I don't know what the median is, but I would surmise that it's between one and 01:19:00two years, perhaps even longer. A third of them continue to live, perhaps more than five years after developing cancer, no matter what treatment they get.

If you want to try out a trial with vitamin C, you have to plan to have a large number of subjects and then you have to follow them for years. With terminal cancer patients that have reached stage four, the median survival time may be two months after they have reached the terminal state. That means you only have to wait a couple of months, perhaps only a fifth or a tenth as great a time to get significant results with them. Moreover, they are all going to die. You don't have to use a large number to apply bio statistical methods to decide the 01:20:00results of the study. If they get vitamin C, a certain fraction of them, apparently from the observations that Dr. Cameron has made, that some of them are not in this category. They live out their usual life expectancy. But, with the controls, they are all going to die. You can plan to carry out a study over maybe a year or two to get significant results.

IF: Do you think vitamin C has a very useful place in the prevention of cancer? If we take vitamin C every day, would it help to prevent it?

LP: There have been a good number of epidemiological studies carried out that 01:21:00have given the result that there is a strong negative correlation between intake of vitamin C and the incidence of cancer. Roughly, I can state that at a given age, you have about half the chance of developing cancer if you are taking supplemental vitamin C than if you're not. This applies of course to vitamin C in the foods. If you are eating foods with a high vitamin C content you might well have only half the age specific incidence of cancer as if you were not eating foods with high vitamin C content.


IF: Does vitamin C have any side effects on long term use of, let's say, gram quantities?

LP: No.

IF: That's one of the more pleasant aspects about it, I suppose?

LP: Yes, that's right.

IF: Do you think that vitamin C might help slow down the aging process? Do you think that it could be involved?

LP: Well, I don't know to what extent it slows down the aging process. I don't understand the aging process well enough to make a statement. The epidemiological evidence indicates that the specific mortality rate is decreased 01:23:0050 percent by taking extra vitamin C. That means that people would live eight years longer. I think probably that the effect of the food intake of vitamin C is even greater than that, I've estimated a 16-year increase in longevity associated with an increased intake of vitamin C. What relation this has to the aging process isn't clear to me.

IF: Are you concerned with food additives as a possible cause of cancer?

LP: Oh yes, and other chemicals that pollute the environment.

IF: There is an Institute of Science and Medicine in Menlo Park that bears your name. What lines of research or other activities go on at this institute?

LP: Well, it changes from time to time. At the present time one of the 01:24:00important activities is the development of a new variant of mass spectrometry that can be used to study body fluids, such as blood and urine, to determine the amounts of substances in them. Another is the study of the chemistry and biochemistry of vitamin C on related compounds, the metabolic products of vitamin C and other vitamins. We have studies on animals, mice, and guinea pigs, of vitamin C in relation to cancer and some related studies.

We also have some theoretical work going on of structure of molecules and 01:25:00structure of atomic nuclei. That's essentially all; it's a small institute. Then, of course, we have Dr. Cameron as a member of our staff. He is supervising several studies, several researches on cancer in the hospital in Scotland.

IF: Were there other research activities at the Institute that you wanted to elaborate on?

LP: No.

IF: When was this institute established?

LP: Six years ago.

IF: Did most of your research on vitamin C take place at this institute?

LP: No. Well, my research, depends on what one means by research. Looking 01:26:00into the literature, I suppose is part of it. I wrote my book, Vitamin C and the Common Cold, ten years ago. My paper "Orthomolecular Psychiatry," which deals with vitamin C as well as other substances, I wrote 12 years ago. So, my interest in vitamin C goes back much longer.

IF: Oregon State has presented you with such tokens of esteem as an honorary doctorate and an award that is now named for you, the Pauling Award, to recognize not only your scientific achievements but also your concern for the well-being of your fellow men. In what ways did you try to raise the consciousness of the students and faculty of Oregon State about these ideas?


LP: I've come back to Corvallis a few times and usually have given a talk about what I was interested in, or what people wanted me to talk about. The Pauling Award, I don't think is an Oregon State University activity. It is given by the Oregon and Northwest Sections, which is mainly Washington, British Columbia and Oregon, of the American Chemical Society.

IF: You're giving a talk tonight called "Science and Peace." How do you think Science should be implemented to promote peace?


LP: Well, science is involved in nearly everything that goes on in the world now. One problem in making the right decisions is that politicians don't have much knowledge of science and the people as a whole also don't have much knowledge of science. It is important that both the scientists and the politicians and their fellow citizens understand what the nature of the problem is, especially the impact of science on the problem.

IF: Are you amazed at the way Oregon State has expanded since you were a student here?


LP: No, I don't think so. Changes similar to this have occurred in a great many institutions, especially state universities and colleges.

IF: Dr. Kerr once predicted that this place wouldn't have any more than 1500 students.

LP: That must have been pretty early, because there were many more than that when I was here, I think 1700 when I arrived in 1917.

IF: He likened it (Oregon State) to one of the small New England colleges. What plans do you have for the future?

LP: I don't know that I plan. I just go on from day to day.


IF: Well, Dr. Pauling, I would like to thank you very much for letting us record 01:31:00your views and experiences. You've provided some very illuminating answers to my questions. I'm sure it will be of great interest to future historians and researchers. It has been a real pleasure talking with you.

LP: Thank you.