Linus Pauling Biography

(One of the Greatest Scientists of All Time & Winner of Two Nobel Prizes)

Birthday: February 28, 1901 (Pisces)

Born In: Portland, Oregon, United States

One of the greatest scientists of the 20th century and the most influential chemist in history, Linus Pauling is the only person to have been awarded two unshared Nobel Prizes. Popularly referred to as the ‘founding father of molecular chemistry’, Pauling’s findings in the field of biological sciences and medicine have provided the foundation for modern biotechnology. As a man of diverse accomplishments, he passionately spoke out against the development of nuclear weapons and the dangers associated with it, while he continued to pursue an amazing array of scientific interests. He was a great orator and gave numerous public speeches on the need for abandoning nuclear testing and was often invited as a speaker at conferences, political rallies, commencements, and media programs. This multi-faceted genius had a zest for communication and the ability to explain complex medical and scientific information in simple terms that a lay man could comprehend. He authored numerous articles and books on various topics like peace activism, health and science. Some of his well-known books include ‘Vitamin C and the Common Cold’, ‘Cancer and Vitamin C’ and ‘How to Live Longer and Feel Better’. To learn more interesting facts about his personal life, peace advocacy campaigns and other scientific achievements, scroll down and continue to read this biography.

Quick Facts

Also Known As: Linus Carl Pauling

Died At Age: 93


Spouse/Ex-: Ava Helen Pauling ​(m. 1923; d. 1981), Ava Helen Pauling ​ (m. 1923; d. 1981)

father: Herman Henry William Pauling

mother: Lucy Isabelle

children: Edward Crellin Pauling, Linda Helen, Linus Carl Pauling Jr., Peter Jeffress Pauling, Peter Pauling

Born Country: United States

Nobel Peace Prize Chemists

Died on: August 19, 1994

place of death: Big Sur, California, United States

U.S. State: Oregon

Grouping of People: Nobel Laureates in Chemistry

Cause of Death: Prostate Cancer.

Ancestry: German American

Notable Alumni: Oregon State University

City: Portland, Oregon

More Facts

education: Oregon State University, California Institute Of Technology

awards: 1931 - Irving Langmuir Award
American Chemical Society
1941 - Nichols Medal

New York Section
American Chemical Society
1946 - Willard Gibbs Award
Chicago section of the American Chemical Society
1947 - Davy Medal
Royal Society
1947 - T. W. Richards Medal
Northeastern Section of the American Chemical Society
1948 - Presidential Medal for Merit
1951 - Gilbert N. Lewis medal
California section of the American Chemical Society
1952 - Pasteur Medal
Biochemical Society of France
1954 - Nobel Prize in Chemistry
1955 - Addis Medal
National Nephrosis Foundation
1955 - John Phillips Memorial Award
American College of Physicians
1956 - Avogadro Medal
Italian Academy of Science 1957 - Paul Sabatier Medal
1957 - Pierre Fermat Medal in Mathematics (awarded for only the sixth time in three centuries)
1957 - International Grotius Medal
1961 - Humanist of the Year
American Humanist Association
1961 - Gandhi Peace Award by Promoting Enduring Peace
1962 - Nobel Peace Prize
1965 - Medal
Academy of the Rumanian People's Republic
1966 - Linus Pauling Award
1966 - Silver Medal
Institute of France
1966 - Supreme Peace Sponsor
World Fellowship of Religion
1967 - Washington A. Roebling Medal
Mineralogical Society of America
1972 - Lenin Peace Prize
1974 - National Medal of Science by President Gerald R. Ford of the United States
1978 - Lomonosov Gold Medal
Presidium of the Academy of the USSR
1979 - NAS Award in Chemical Sciences
National Academy of Sciences
1981 - John K. Lattimer Award
American Urological Association
1984 Priestley Medal
American Chemical Society
1984 - Award for Chemistry
Arthur M. Sackler Foundation
1986 - Lavoisier Medal by Fondation de la Maison de la Chimie
1987 - Award in Chemical Education
American Chemical Society
1989 - Vannevar Bush Award
National Science Board
1990 - Richard C. Tolman Medal
American Chemical Society Southern California Section

  • 1

    What are Linus Pauling's major scientific contributions?

    Linus Pauling is known for his groundbreaking work in the fields of chemistry and molecular biology. He made significant contributions to our understanding of chemical bonding, protein structure, and the nature of the chemical bond.

  • 2

    How did Linus Pauling's research impact the field of medicine?

    Linus Pauling's research on the role of vitamin C in health and disease had a significant impact on the field of medicine. He popularized the idea that high doses of vitamin C could prevent and treat various illnesses, although some of his claims have been controversial.

  • 3

    What is Linus Pauling's connection to the concept of orthomolecular medicine?

    Linus Pauling was a proponent of orthomolecular medicine, which involves using nutrients, such as vitamins and minerals, in optimal amounts to maintain health and treat disease. He believed that certain diseases could be treated with high doses of specific nutrients.

  • 4

    How did Linus Pauling's activism influence his career?

    Linus Pauling was not only a renowned scientist but also a dedicated peace activist. He was a vocal advocate for nuclear disarmament and won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1962 for his efforts to promote nuclear non-proliferation and world peace.

  • 5

    What controversies surrounded Linus Pauling's scientific views?

    Linus Pauling's views on the role of vitamin C in health and disease were controversial and not universally accepted by the scientific community. Some of his claims, such as the ability of high doses of vitamin C to prevent or cure cancer, have been criticized for lacking strong scientific evidence.

Childhood & Early Life
Linus Pauling was born in Portland, Oregon to Herman Henry William Pauling, a bread salesman and Lucy Isabelle ‘Belle’ Darling. The family lived together in a humble one room apartment.
After his sister Pauline was born, the family moved to Salem, Oregon as his father took up a salesman job at the Skidmore Drug Company.
During his younger days he was a voracious reader and was also fascinated by chemistry experiments, he even set up a laboratory with the help of an older friend.
Before he attended Oregon State University in 1917, he took a number of odd jobs—worked part time at a grocery store, as an apprentice machinist and also set up a photography laboratory with his friends—in order to earn enough money to fund his college expenses.
In 1922, he graduated from the Oregon State University with a degree in chemical engineering, after which he attended the California Institute of Technology.
While he was pursuing his graduate studies, he published seven papers on the crystal structure of minerals and in 1925 he received a Ph.D. in ‘physical chemistry and mathematical physics, summa cum laude’
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In 1927, he became the assistant professor of ‘theoretical chemistry’ at the California Institute of Technology and during his five year stay at the institute he published fifty papers and invented the ‘Pauling’s rules’.
In 1930, he travelled to Europe to study the use of ‘electrons’ in ‘diffraction’ and after he returned, he built an instrument called the ‘electron diffraction instrument’ to study the ‘molecular structure’ of chemical substances.
In 1932, he published a paper on the concept of ‘hybridization of atomic orbitals’ and analysed the ‘tetravalency’ of the ‘carbon atom’.
He introduced the concept of ‘electronegativity’ and established the ‘Pauling Electronegativity Scale’, a tool to predict ‘bond between atoms and molecules’.
During the World War II, he did not work on any military projects and refused to work in the ‘Manhattan Project’, a research and development project that produced the first atomic bomb.
In 1946, he became a member of the Emergency Committee of Atomic Scientists, an organisation that warned the public of the hazards associated with the development of nuclear weapons.
In 1949, along with fellow scientists he authored a paper titled ‘Sickle Cell Anemia, a Molecular Disease’, which was published in the journal ‘Science’.
In 1955, along with fellow colleagues from the scientific community like Albert Einstein and Bertrand Russell he signed the ‘Russell-Einstein Manifesto’, an appeal to seek peaceful resolutions and put an end to nuclear weapons.
In 1958, he participated in the ‘Baby Tooth Survey’, that demonstrated the dangers of above-ground nuclear testing. The same year, along with his wife he presented the United Nations a petition signed by 11,000 scientists to end nuclear weapon testing.
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During the 1960s, he opposed America’s involvement in the Vietnam War, for this cause he made many public speeches and signed protest letters and petitions.
In 1965, he authored a research paper titled, ‘Close-Packed Spheron Model of the atomic nucleus’, which was published in some of the well-respected journals including ‘Science’.
In 1970, his book titled ‘Vitamin C and the Common Cold’ was published. The book was about the benefits of the intake of Vitamin C.
He continued to work as a peace activist and in 1974, co-founded the ‘International League of Humanists’, an organisation with the primary objective of promoting peace and human rights.
In 1986, he authored another edition on the health benefits of vitamin C titled, ‘How to live longer and Feel Better’. The book advocated the intake of high dosages of Vitamin C’.
Recommended Lists:
Major Works
Published in 1939, his book ‘The Nature of the Chemical Bond’ is one of the most influential books ever published in the field of chemistry and it has been cited as a reference in many important journals and scientific papers.
He founded the concept of ‘molecular disease’; these discoveries inspired research work on many more such disorders and is the basis of today’s ‘human genome research’.
Awards & Achievements
In 1926, he was awarded the Guggenheim Fellowship to study under German physicist Arnold Sommerfeld in Munich, Danish physicist Niels Bohr in Copenhagen and Austrian physicist Erwin Schr�dinger in Z�rich.
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In 1931, he was awarded the Langmuir Prize by the American Chemical Society for the most significant work in ‘pure science’ by a person 30 years of age or younger.
In 1954, he was awarded the Nobel Prize in Chemistry "for his research into the nature of the chemical bond and its application to the elucidation of the structure of complex substances.".
In 1962, he was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for his ‘peace activism’.
In 1970, he was awarded the International Lenin Peace Prize.
Personal Life & Legacy
On June 17, 1923 he married Ava Helen Miller and the marriage lasted until her death in 1981. The couple had three sons together.
Even though he was raised as a member of the Lutheran Church, he later became a member of the Unitarian Church and declared that he was an atheist, two years before his death.
At the age of forty, he was diagnosed with Bright's disease, a kidney disease.
At the age of 93, he died of prostate cancer at his home in Big Sur, California.
On March 6, 2008, a 41 cent stamp was released in his honour by the United States Postal Service.
Facts About Linus Pauling

In addition to being a renowned chemist, Pauling was also a passionate advocate for nuclear disarmament and won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1962 for his efforts in promoting world peace.

Pauling was known for his unconventional beliefs, including his advocacy for the use of high doses of vitamin C to prevent and treat various illnesses, which sparked controversy in the scientific community.

Despite his groundbreaking work in chemistry, Pauling also had a keen interest in other fields such as molecular biology, crystallography, and medicine, showcasing his diverse intellectual pursuits.

See the events in life of Linus Pauling in Chronological Order

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