Pauling’s Receipt of the Lenin Peace Prize

Dmitry Skobeltsyn, Linus Pauling, Marilla [?] and Ava Helen Pauling, Lenin Prize ceremonies, June 15, 1970

[Part 1 of 2]

“Now is the time for us to change from our immoral course, from our dedication to the archaic institution of war, to a policy of peace and rationality and morality. I am confident that the Soviet Union would follow our lead, that the conduct of international affairs could be made to find the just solution of international problems, that we can achieve the goal of a world of justice and morality, a world in which the wealth of the world is used for the benefit of human beings, a world of freedom and dignity, a world of which our idealistic young people will be glad to be a part.”

–Concluding remarks of the first draft of Linus Pauling’s acceptance speech, written on the occasion of his receipt of the International Lenin Prize for Strengthening Peace Among Peoples, June 1970

On June 15, 1970, at the Soviet Embassy in Washington, D.C., Linus Pauling gave an acceptance address acknowledging his receipt of the 1968-69 International Lenin Prize for Strengthening Peace Among Peoples. Created in 1949, this award was originally named the International Stalin Prize for Strengthening Peace Among Peoples in honor of then Soviet Premier Joseph Stalin. In 1956, three years after Stalin’s death, the prize was renamed by his successor as premier, Nikita Khrushchev. For most of its history, the prize was awarded annually to non-Soviet citizens who upheld the foundations of world peace. The award was discontinued following the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991.

For Pauling, receiving the Lenin Prize represented, among other things, an opportunity to leverage attention toward his peace-oriented goals. Perhaps most notably, Pauling’s private correspondence reveals that when he heard that he was to receive the prize, his initial response was that he wanted the ceremony to be held at the United Nations building in New York. In a letter to the Soviet Academy of Sciences, Pauling wrote that he felt that the UN headquarters would be appropriate, “especially at this time, when the world is torn by wars and oppressed by militarism[.] [T]he symbolic significance of the presentation of this Peace Prize in the United Nations Headquarters could be very important.”

In addition to being appropriate on its own merits, Pauling also cited precedent in support of his suggestion. The opening ceremony of the 1965 International Convocation on the Requirements of Peace, he noted, was sponsored by the Center for the Study of Democratic Institutions and held at the UN Headquarters. Mostly for these reasons, Pauling was convinced that the UN Secretary General, U Thant, would approve of his idea.

It is unclear why the ceremony was not held at the UN headquarters, and instead at the Soviet Embassy in Washington, D.C., but what is clear is that the ceremony was celebrated with much fanfare and adulation for Pauling and his accomplishments towards peace.


At the embassy, the Prize was given to Pauling by Soviet physicist and academician Dmitry V. Skobeltsyn, who addressed all in attendance with a warmhearted, “Comrade Ambassador, Dear Mr. and Mrs. Pauling, Ladies and Gentlemen, Dear Friends.” He then detailed the history of the prize, suggesting that it was established to support some of Lenin’s ideals, including his fight for “true brotherhood, equality, and freedom of peoples.” For Skobeltsyn, Pauling was the true embodiment of these ideals as well as an “ardent fighter for peace.”

Skobeltsyn continued that Pauling was receiving the award for his “personal merits in the struggle for peace and the contribution which is being made to the cause of defending peace by the wide movement of the progressive international community, and among them, by progressive circles in the United States.” He then pointed out that “Pauling is widely known in the world…as the name of an outstanding public figure who is ceaselessly struggling to ensure that the achievement of science serve the cause of peace and that the danger of [nuclear weapons’] use in a new destructive world war, which would threaten mankind with incalculable sufferings, be eliminated.”

From there, Skobeltsyn enumerated several of Pauling’s major peace-related accomplishments, including his 1957 petition to the United Nations “calling for an immediate conclusion of an international agreement banning the tests of nuclear bombs,” and his 1961 establishment (with the help of Ava Helen Pauling) of a conference against the spread of nuclear weapons. He concluded his remarks by expressing his hope that “friendly relations between Soviet and American peoples grow stronger and develop in the interest of peace.”

For his part, Pauling regarded the prize to be fitting and even serendipitous, noting that the day he had become aware of the honor in April 1970 was also the same day that the Strategic Arms Limitation Talks between the United States and Soviet Union had begun. Pauling then traced his work in attempting to end the arms race between the Soviet Union and the United States, and stressed that the beginnings of the SALT talks had marked a turning point in the trajectory of this work. For Pauling, it was a moment of optimism; the talks a source of “more hope on cutting down the armament burden than we have had for a long time.”

The reverse of the Pauling’s Lenin medal. The text reads: “For the Strengthening of Peace Among Peoples.”

The Roebling Medal

The Washington A. Roebling Medal, presented to Linus Pauling in 1967

“I remember that when my wife and I visited Dr. Albert Schweitzer in Lambarene a number of years ago, I suggested to him that his principle of reverence for life ought to be extended to include minerals, and perhaps could be named the principle of reverence for the world.”

-Linus Pauling, 1967

In November 1967, Linus Pauling traveled to New Orleans, Louisiana to attend the annual meeting of the Geological Society of America. The society was composed of six sections including the Mineralogical Society of America, which had invited Pauling to receive its most prestigious award: the Washington A. Roebling Medal.

Born in 1837, Washington Roebling was a civil engineer who worked primarily on suspension bridges and who, most famously, oversaw the construction of the Brooklyn Bridge in New York City. His father John A. Roebling, also a renowned civil engineer, had initially designed the Brooklyn Bridge but died of tetanus before construction began. It was at that point that Washington Roebling assumed leadership of the project as well as the family business, John A. Roebling’s Sons Company. He continued in this capacity until his passing in 1926.

Washington Roebling. Credit: Rutgers University Library, Special Collections and Archives

In addition to his achievements as an engineer, Roebling was also an avid mineral collector who scouted out and saved more than 16,000 specimens during his lifetime. After his death the collection was donated to the Smithsonian Institution, at which point it was noted that, of the 1,500 mineral species then known, only fifteen were not represented in Roebling’s assemblage. As a natural outgrowth of his hobby, Roebling was also an active member of the Mineralogical Society of America, assuming the position of vice president late in life.

In 1937 the Mineralogical Society of America created the Roebling Medal to honor the memory of one their highest profile members. The award was meant to be the most prestigious decoration offered by the society, as granted to an individual who had made “scientific publications of outstanding original research in mineralogy.” Nominations could be put forth for any qualified individual, whether or not they were strictly a mineralogist. For several years prior to issuing the award for the first time, the society earmarked a small percentage of their members’ annual dues to fund the medal, which was cast from 14 karat gold and bore an image of its namesake.


At the 1967 ceremony in New Orleans, Pauling was introduced by Jose D. H. Donnay, a mineralogy professor at Johns Hopkins University. A charming speaker, Donnay reflected on Pauling’s humble origins, his academic and professional accolades, his extensive and varied research interests, and the achievements that had resulted in this honor. As Donnay noted in his enthusiastic remarks

Let me, at least, remind you of the fields of endeavor in which [Pauling] himself admits taking an interest: crystal structures, molecular structures, line spectra, quantum chemistry, molecular rotation in crystals, ionic radii, theory of stability of complex crystals, proteins and helices, in short the vast subject of the chemical bond; turning toward biology and medicine: the relation between disease and molecular abnormality, immunochemistry, sickle-cell anemia; in other fields, structural problems of metals and alloys, ferromagnetism. Some people have asked me, ‘Why give Pauling one more medal? Will not our modest homage look like an anti-climax?’ [To which I would answer]…there is not a single mineralogical medal in his present-day medalary…our own profession, which owes him so much, cannot tarry, cannot be ungrateful any longer: it is high time we jumped on the band wagon!

Donnay drafted his speech months before the Louisiana meeting and had asked Pauling to proofread it. The only edits that he suggested be made were mention of his newly published book, The Chemical Bond, as well as his receipt of an overseas addition to the medalary: the Correspondant por a Mineralogie award, granted by the French Academy of Science in 1948.


In his acceptance address, Pauling reflected several personal and professional outcomes of his life-long love affair with mineralogy. He recalled in particular that his interest in the study of rocks and minerals had reached an early crescendo some fifty years earlier when, as a young college student, he initiated a systematic, year-long effort to collect specimens native to the Willamette Valley of Oregon. Unfortunately for him, Pauling was not well-equipped to pursue this task as he was limited by his only mode of transportation: a bicycle.

While this initial quest proved unsuccessful, Pauling’s enthusiasm did not wane but rather took on a more academic form, including mining geology courses at Oregon Agricultural College, complete with lab work on blowpipe analysis and fire assay.        

Linus Pauling, 1947

Pauling next noted that it was a Caltech scientist, C. Lalor Burdick, who was the first to correctly determine the molecular structure of a mineral, chalcopyrite. Completed while Pauling himself was still in his first year at OAC, this discovery and others like it inspired Pauling to begin his own research on the structure of molybdenite once he had arrived at Caltech to begin graduate studies. Co-published with his mentor, Roscoe Gilkey Dickinson, the molybdenite project was just the beginning of a remarkable phase of productivity and insight. Within the next thirteen years, Pauling investigated sixty-three other minerals using x-ray diffraction techniques, publishing structures for over half of them.

Later on, Pauling encouraged a student to dig back into the past and review Burdick’s original work, an examination that yielded fruit. As he noted in his talk,

I suggested to one of my graduate students, L. O. Brockway, that he carry out a reinvestigation of chalcopyrite in order to determine the parameter with greater accuracy. He found Burdick had made an error, and had reported a wrong distribution of copper and iron atoms over the zinc positions in sphelerite. The correct structure was reported by Brockway and me in 1933.

Pauling likewise made mention of a collection of specimens that Robert Oppenheimer gave to him after a meeting in 1927. Though offered mostly as a gesture of friendship, the collection also proved useful to Pauling’s research, and he continued to study the specimens until the late 1930s, when his interest shifted towards the interactions between hemoglobin and oxygen. Though biological topics would dominate much of his work going forward, Pauling stressed that “I continue to find pleasure in looking at minerals, and thinking about their structures.”

Two years after receiving the Roebling Medal, Pauling was invited back by the society to give a speech titled “Crystallography and Chemical Bonding of Sulfides,” which was published in the Fiftieth Anniversary Symposium volume of the Mineralogical Society of America Journal. Pauling remained a society fellow for life and received a certificate recognizing his contributions to the group in 1994, not long before he passed away.

                                                                                                                               

Pauling’s Receipt of the National Medal of Science

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Ava Helen and Linus Pauling at the White House with President Gerald Ford and other recipients of the National Medal of Science, September 18, 1975

On September 18, 1975, the determination of many sectors of the scientific community culminated in an early afternoon ceremony held in President Gerald Ford’s Oval Office. It was on this date that Linus Pauling at long last received the 1974 National Medal of Science, an award that was long in the coming.

Immediately after the news of his selection was announced, Pauling began to receive a steady stream of congratulatory letters from friends and colleagues. In many of these communications, Pauling’s scientific peers made reference to the long delay that had preceded Pauling’s receipt of the award. One suggested that “in my estimation you should have been the very first chemist to receive this recognition” and another opined that “this is an honor which, for you, is long past due.”

Permeating much of this dialogue was a common understanding as to the cause of the delay: namely that Pauling’s outspokenness on social and political issues had not been appreciated by high ranking officials of the U.S. government. As one correspondent put it

we know that you would have long ago received this honor if you had been silent during the Vietnam War and if you had not spoken out on every occasion in the interest of the people of the United States as a peace-loving nation.


 

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Tagged as a communist in the 1950s and scorned by many for the consistency of his anti-war point of view, Pauling was used to fighting for the recognition that he deserved, and the case of the National Medal of Science proved to be no exception.

Established in 1959, the National Medal of Science is the most prestigious honor bestowed upon scientists by the U.S. government. Pauling, who had made significant contributions to a staggering array of scientific disciplines by the late 1950s, was clearly a leading candidate for the medal from the moment of its inception. However, his vocal campaign against the perils of the nuclear age served to politicize the process by which he might have been considered for the award, the result being that others were chosen in his stead for fifteen years.

In the run-up to 1974, a growing controversy had built around Pauling’s lack of recognition by the White House. Though scientists on the President’s Committee for the National Science Award had persistently put forth Pauling’s name as a preferred choice, he was continually passed over. The controversy heightened once word began to circulate that President Richard Nixon had pointedly refused to grant Pauling the award not once, but twice.

Some two decades later, Pauling learned that Nixon had been so upset by the tenacity of the American Chemical Society and the American Crystallography Association – organizations that both refused to put forth any nominations other than Pauling – that he decided to forego conferring the award at all. And indeed, no scientists received the decoration in 1971 or 1972.

While certainly a slight against him personally and to the scientific community writ large, Nixon’s refusal to honor Pauling with the medal may have actually come as something of a relief. It is safe to say that Pauling’s relationship with Nixon was fraught with tension and mutual distaste to the point where a meeting between the two would have proven awkward. As Pauling would later point out in a reply to a congratulatory letter, “I am at least glad that it was delayed beyond the Nixon regime.”


The slights weren’t all coming from the nation’s capital. Closer to home, Pauling found himself in a tussle with a local paper, the Palo Alto Times, that had neglected to mention Pauling as being included in the membership of the class of 1974. Instead, in an edited United Press International story headlined “Stanford prof awarded national medal,” the paper focused on the achievements of Paul Flory, a recent Nobel laureate who was soon to retire from the Stanford faculty. A final paragraph listing all of the 1974 recipients did not include any reference to Pauling nor, to be fair, three other scientists who were to be likewise honored.

When he contacted the paper to complain and suggested that the publication’s omission had been “damaging” to him, Pauling was met with a rebuke: “The city editor said I was a great scientist but a lousy lawyer, and they would print the story how they wanted to.”

A similar situation played out with the San Francisco Chronicle, which ran a different story emphasizing two Bay Area scientists in the class – Flory and Ken Pitzer – but not Pauling. A subsequent follow-up with UPI confirmed to Pauling that his name had been included in the wire release issued by the news service to its regional offices.


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Many others shared a far more positive view of Pauling’s decoration. For some, President Ford’s decision to award Pauling with the National Medal of Science signified a welcome thawing of relations between scientists and the executive branch. As one newspaper editorial noted, “the withheld honors for the great scientist had come to symbolize a growing estrangement between the government and the scientific community.” In addressing this estrangement symbolically, Ford seemed to be indicating that a scientist could speak their mind without fear of penalty.

 

In remarks published in The Medical Tribune, James Neel – a fellow member of the 1974 award class – held up Pauling as a role model and suggested that the government’s recognition should serve as validation for all socially motivated scientists. In Neel’s estimation

[Pauling] personifies the best in the psyche of the scientist: he is interested in the way life functions and in keeping living things alive. His social views are thus an extension of his work and values as a scientist. His greater perception of the meaning of life is what gives significance to his ideas and resonance to his contributions.

Others, however, understood that Pauling’s road to the National Medal of Science had been rocky and offered private words of support. As biochemist Britton Chance, also a member of the class of 1974, noted

 

you may have had mixed feelings as to whether [the National Medal of Science] was worthy of your accomplishments….[but] you have had a really remarkable career, and as I hope you know, to my view you are truly the out-standing genius of our time.

By the time of his passing in 1994, Linus Pauling had received forty-seven honorary doctorates as well as essentially every award that a scientist in his fields of study could win. And though the theatrics surrounding his belated National Medal of Science award surely proved frustrating, one might posit that the commendation of peers like Britton Chance served as stronger validation for Pauling than did nearly all of the hundreds of medals, plaques and certificates that he received over the course of a hugely distinguished career.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Pauling Medal Awardees

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Lucile Jenkins (Pauling’s sister), Linus Pauling and Ava Helen Pauling at the Pauling Medal ceremony, 1967.

[Part 2 of 2]

Ten years into the history of the Linus Pauling Medal, the two American Chemical Society sections that sponsored the award – the Puget Sound section and the Oregon section – decided to edit and modernize their nominating process for the 1976 presentation. Essentially, the sections sought to streamline their process and improve ease of comparison by requiring that nomination packets for each nominee be submitted in the same format, and that specific types of information be included for every individual under consideration.

The 1976 nomination round also included a ramped up discussion of including more women among the pool of nominees, though in fifty years still only one female has received the medal. Caltech’s Jacqueline K. Barton, the Pauling Medal awardee for 2007, is likewise the first female recipient of a number of other prestigious decorations in chemistry, including the National Medal of Science and the Priestley Medal. Barton is also married to a fellow Pauling Medal winner, Peter Dervan, who received the prize eight years before his wife.

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Pauling, Edward Barnes, Henry Eyring, and two unidentified individuals at the ceremony honoring Eyring as Pauling Medalist for 1969.

At a meeting held in June 1977, the two sponsoring sections discussed a further major change: adding the support of the Portland ACS section to the nominating and awarding committees. Though the benefits of including a third organizational body to absorb the logistical work and the costs of the event were evident to all involved, it was agreed that the three sections would need to wait six more years before Portland could be included, specifically because six medals had already been cast bearing the joint sponsorship of the Puget Sound and Oregon sections. Another six years would also give the three committees plenty of time to work out any kinks that might arise through the addition of another section to the nominating and awarding process.

As it happened, it actually took longer than six years to jointly award the medal across all three sections. The Portland group finally came aboard as a formal awarding body in 1987, at which point the medal was presented in the Rose City every third year, beginning in 1989.


 

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Dudley Herschbach, Seymour Rabinovitch, Rudolph Marcus, Ahmed Zewail and William H. Miller at the Pauling Medal ceremonies honoring Marcus in 1992. Herschbach, Marcus and Zewail are all Nobel Chemistry laureates.

Over the course of its fifty years, the Linus Pauling Medal has been bestowed upon an accomplished group of scientists, most of whom have received other top awards in the field of chemistry broadly as well as a variety of decorations in their areas of specialization.  Over a third of the Pauling recipients have also won the Priestley Medal, which is the highest honor given by the American Chemical Society and typically recognizes a lifetime of achievement. Likewise, over half of the Pauling Medal roster has received the National Medal of Science – the highest award that a scientist can receive from the United States government – and more than a quarter are Nobel laureates.

Unsurprisingly, the Pauling Medal list includes a great number of chemists who were close colleagues of and, in some cases, collaborators with the award’s namesake. Several of Pauling’s former graduate students and post-docs are also sprinkled throughout.

Here are the fifty recipients of the Linus Pauling Medal:

  • 1966: Linus Pauling, Staff Member, Center for the Study of Democratic Institutions
  • 1967: Manfred Eigen, Director, Max Planck –Institute for Physical Chemistry, Gottingen, Germany
  • 1968: Herbert C. Brown, Professor of Inorganic Chemistry, Purdue University
  • 1969: Henry Eyring, Dean of the Graduate School and Professor of Chemistry, University of Utah
  • 1970: Harold C. Urey, Professor at Large, University of California at San Diego
  • 1971: Gerhard Herzberg, Division of Pure Physics, National Research Council of Canada
  • 1972: E. Bright Wilson, Professor of Chemistry, Harvard University
  • 1973: E. J. Corey, Professor of Organic Chemistry, Harvard University
  • 1974: Roald Hoffman, Professor of Chemistry, Cornell University
  • 1975: Paul Bartlett, Professor of Chemistry, Texas Christian University
  • 1976: F. Albert Cotton, Professor of Chemistry, Texas A & M University
  • 1977: John A. Pople, Professor of Chemical Physics, Carnegie-Mellon University
  • 1978: Dudley Herschbach, Professor of Chemistry, Harvard University
  • 1979: Daniel E. Koshland, Jr., Professor of Chemistry, University of California at Berkeley
  • 1980: John D. Roberts, Professor of Chemistry, California Institute of Technology
  • 1981: Henry Taube, Professor of Chemistry, Stanford University
  • 1982: George C. Pimental, Professor of Chemistry, University of California at Berkeley
  • 1983: Gilbert Stork, Professor of Chemistry, Columbia University
  • 1984: John S. Waugh, Professor of Chemistry, Massachusetts Institute of Technology
  • 1985: Harold A. Scheraga, Professor of Chemistry, Cornell University
  • 1986: Harry B. Gray, Professor of Chemistry, California Institute of Technology
  • 1987: Harden M. McConnell, Professor of Chemistry, Stanford University
  • 1988: Keith Ingold, Associate Director of the Division of Chemistry, National Research Council of Canada
  • 1989: Neil Bartlett, Professor of Chemistry, University of California at Berkeley
  • 1990: James P. Collman, Professor of Chemistry, Stanford University
  • 1991: Rudolph A. Marcus, Professor of Chemistry, California Institute of Technology
  • 1992: Kenneth Wiberg, Professor of Chemistry, Yale University
  • 1993: Richard Zare, Professor of Chemistry and Physics, Stanford University
  • 1994: James Ibers, Professor of Chemistry, Northwestern University
  • 1995: Alexander Rich, Professor of Biophysics, Massachusetts Institute of Technology
  • 1996: Kyriacos C. Nicolaou, Professor of Chemical Biology, Scripps Research Institute
  • 1997: Ahmed H. Zewail, Professor of Chemistry and Physics, California Institute of Technology
  • 1998: Allen J. Bard, Professor of Chemistry, University of Texas at Austin
  • 1999: Peter B. Dervan, Professor of Chemistry, California Institute of Technology
  • 2000: Gabor A. Somorjai, Professor of Chemistry, University of California at Berkeley
  • 2001: Tobin J. Marks, Professor of Catalytic Chemistry, Northwestern University
  • 2002: John I. Brauman, Professor of Chemistry, Stanford University
  • 2003: Robert H. Grubbs, Professor of Chemistry, California Institute of Technology
  • 2004: Martin Karplus, Professor of Chemistry, Harvard University
  • 2005: George Whitesides, University Professor, Harvard University
  • 2006: Peter J. Stang, Professor of Chemistry, University of Utah
  • 2007: Jacqueline K. Barton, Professor of Chemistry, California Institute of Technology
  • 2008: Thomas C. Bruice, Research Professor in Chemistry and Biochemistry, University of California at Santa Barbara
  • 2009: Stephen J. Lippard, Professor of Chemistry, Massachusetts Institute of Technology
  • 2010: Armand Paul Alivisatos, Professor of Chemistry and Materials Science and Engineering, and Director of the Lawrence Berkeley National Lab, University of California at Berkeley
  • 2011: Larry R. Dalton, Professor of Chemistry and Electrical Engineering, University of Washington
  • 2012: Robert Cava, Professor of Chemistry, Princeton University
  • 2013: Chad Mirkin, Professor of Chemistry, Professor of Medicine, Professor of Materials Science and Engineering, Professor of Biomedical Engineering, and Professor of Chemical and Biological Engineering, and Director of the International Institute for Nanotechnology and Center for Nanofabrication and Molecular Self-Assembly, Northwestern University
  • 2014: Stephen Buchwald, Professor of Chemistry, Massachusetts Institute of Technology
  • 2015: Barry M. Trost, Professor of Humanities and Sciences, Stanford University

Fifty Years of the Linus Pauling Medal

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[Ed Note: With the awarding of the ninth Linus Pauling Legacy Award to Dr. Jane Lubchenco scheduled for next Tuesday, we thought this an appropriate time to take a look at the first award to have been named for Linus Pauling; one that turns fifty years old in 2016. This is part 1 of 2.]

Though Linus Pauling was a much celebrated and well-respected scientist across the globe, he traced his roots to the Pacific Northwest and always felt a special connection to the region. It would seem fitting then that the first award to bear his name would come from the area.

In a letter dated December 9, 1965, Pauling first learned that two regional sections of the American Chemical Society – the Puget Sound Section and the Oregon Section – were collaborating on a new award that would bear his name. The Linus Pauling Medal would be granted each year, beginning in 1966. Quite appropriately, the two sections asked that Pauling be the first recipient of the honor.

The Pauling Medal would replace the former Puget Sound Award (given, as one might assume, by the Puget Sound Section) and would “recognize distinguished achievement in chemistry.”  Furthermore, though the interests of Pacific Northwest scientists would play a role in deciding who received the decoration, the nomination criteria made it clear that this was not specifically a regional award:

A nominee shall have made outstanding contributions to chemistry of a character that have merited national and international recognition and that are of particular interest to chemists of this geographical area.

Indeed, though two ACS sections sponsored the award, its nomination guidelines specified that recipients need not reside within the geographical regions represented by the two sponsors. And though the medal was named for him, Pauling did not think it proper for him to be involved with deliberations concerning recipients, and he accordingly refused to nominate anyone or offer a letter of endorsement for those nominated by others.

The award itself consists of a gold medal engraved with Pauling’s profile, crowned with the text “Linus Pauling Medal,” and also including the names of the (now three – the Portland ACS section joined the award in the 1980s) sponsoring ACS sections. The awardee’s name and the date that it is bestowed are engraved on the back of the medal, accompanied by the text “for outstanding achievement in chemistry.” The medal is accompanied by a scroll.

In its early years, the Pauling Medal was granted at a ceremony hosted alternately by the two sponsoring sections, with the Oregon section usually rotating its turns between venues at Oregon State University and the University of Oregon.  The ceremony itself generally consisted of a meeting featuring a keynote address by the recipient and ancillary lectures as delivered by other distinguished chemists. The event concluded with a celebratory banquet. The ongoing costs of the award, including travel and meeting expenses, were split between the two sections.


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By design, the nomination process established for the Pauling Medal had the potential to be long and complicated, involving several rounds of voting until a consensus was reached on one awardee.  And from the beginning, the goal for each year has been to generate a minimum of ten nominations to be considered by the award committee, with a preferred pool of twenty possibilities.

Compiling this pool required the cooperation of both a canvasing committee and an award selection committee.  The canvassing committee’s job was to solicit nominations, meet at the Northwest Regional meeting to review the names that had been received, organize them for evaluation by the award selection committee, and recommend any changes to procedure that might help out in the future. The call for nominations went out early in the calendar year, so as to allow for enough time to vet potential awardees and to find a ceremony date that was mutually agreeable.

At first, the canvassing committee expressed a preference for older candidates who, like Pauling, had remained creative and continued to make important advancements in their specific field.  As the award developed and its standards became more concrete, the goal shifted to presenting the award to a chemist whose career would clearly benefit from the decoration, which usually meant concentrating on younger nominees (as was Pauling’s wish).

Once the canvassing group had done its job, the final selection was made by an award committee comprised of five members: two from each sponsoring section and a chair selected from alternating sections. In addition to the pool developed by the canvassing committee, the awarding group could add names of their own.

The criteria for selection were very flexible, with only two strict conditions placed: 1) no member of the canvassing or awarding committees could be considered and 2) a candidate could not be awarded the Pauling Medal for the same achievements that had led to their receipt of a Nobel Prize. Rather, consideration for the Pauling Medal would be based entirely on new and innovative work.


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Linus Pauling received the first Linus Pauling Medal on December 3, 1966 at a celebration held in Portland’s Memorial Coliseum. His acceptance talk was titled “Science as a Way of Life,” and made mention of the insect collections that he compiled as a boy, a few scientific mishaps that he encountered during his career and, in particular, his struggles in determining the molecular structure of sodium dicadmide. He also included the now famous story of how he determined the alpha-helical structure of proteins while folding paper as he was sitting sick in bed.

In addition to Pauling’s lecture, the first Pauling Medal event included talks by Neil Bartlett, Martin Karplus, and Joseph Kraut. Bartlett would later receive the Pauling Medal himself in 1989 and Karplus – the 2013 Nobel Chemistry laureate – was likewise honored in 2004.

Having traveled to Oregon for the event, Linus and Ava Helen took advantage of their visit to drive down to Corvallis to meet with chemistry students and to speak as part of a convocation at Oregon State University. Following their time in Portland, they headed north to Spokane, Washington, where Linus gave a talk at Gonzaga University. From there they went to Seattle where they saw one of Ava Helen’s brothers and gave yet another lecture, this time at the University of Washington.

In the years that followed, the Paulings attended the Pauling Medal ceremonies as often as they could, participating more frequently as time went on. When Pauling was able to make it, he was recognized as a guest of honor of the sponsoring sections and would typically say a few words in praise of the awardee. In years when he was unable to attend the ceremony, Pauling would usually send a letter of congratulations to the awardee.  He continued to attend the event long after Ava Helen’s death in 1981, making an appearance virtually every year until his own health started to decline in the early 1990s.

 

 

Pauling’s Nobel Nominators: Peace

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The Pauling family assembled prior to Linus Pauling’s Nobel Peace lecture, Oslo, Norway, December 10, 1963.

[Part 6 of 6]

As we conclude our series on Pauling’s Nobel awards, we examine those who nominated him for the Nobel Peace Prize, which he received in 1963. Nominator data has been supplied by the Nobel Foundation through an online database.

Interestingly enough, while Pauling was nominated at least seventy times for the Nobel Prize, only four of those were in support of his peace efforts.  Details of the three men who put his name forward are included below.

Peace

1961:

  • Helge Seip: Norwegian Member of Parliament representing the Liberal Party and later the Liberal People’s Party.  At a young age he became involved in the Young Liberals, the youth wing of the Liberal Party.  In 1948 he became a deputy member of the Liberal Party national board, advancing to regular board member in 1952, and he continued in this position until becoming national party leader in 1970.  He was elected to the Parliament of Norway in Oslo in 1953 and as a MP could submit nominations for the Nobel Peace Prize.
  • Kenneth M. Stampp: Professor of American history at the University of California, Berkeley, a professional standing which allowed him to nominate for Peace Prize.  From the very beginning of his employment at Berkeley, he immersed himself in the political life of Berkeley.  In his research, Stampp presented the views of slaves themselves alongside the conventional historical perspective of slave owners, which yielded a new and more complex picture of the institution of slavery than that which had previously been crafted by historians.  He also argued against the notion that the decade after the Civil War was disastrous for the South – a time of vengefulness visited upon it by the North, and of rampant corruption and vindictive political maneuvering.

 

1962:

  • Gunnar Garbo: Norwegian journalist, politician, ambassador, and member of Stortinget, the Norwegian Parliament.  He wrote several books and numerous articles on political issues, in particular focusing on international politics and themes such as disarmament and the United Nations.  From 1962 to 1973 he was a member of the Government’s Advisory Committee on Disarmament, the last three years of which he served as chairman.  Throughout his political career he focused on foreign policy issues rather than domestic concerns, and in this he attempted to build bridges between eastern and western nations, advocating for mutual disarmament. When he left parliament in 1973, Garbo worked for the Institute of Peace Research and continued as chairman of the government’’s disarmament committee.
    • Motivation for nomination: Pauling was nominated for his lectures and for initiating debates concerning the importance of eliminating or restricting weapons of mass destruction.

 

1963:

  • Garbo (see above)

 

Pauling’s Nobel Nominators: Chemistry, 1949-1954; Medicine,1953

1954i.43

Linus Pauling shaking hands with King Gustav at the 1954 Nobel Prize Ceremony. Stockholm, Sweden. Photo Credit: Text & Bilder

[Part 5 of 6]

Today’s post focuses on those individuals who nominated Linus Pauling for the Nobel Chemistry Prize during the span of years between 1949 and his Chemistry Nobel laureate year of 1954.  We also examine Pauling’s nomination for the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine in 1953.  The post relies on data released online by the Nobel Foundation.

Chemistry

1949:

  • Jacques Hadamard: French mathematician and member of the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences who made major contributions in number theory, complex function theory, differential geometry and partial differential equations.  Having lost his two older sons in World War I and another during World War II, he became active in international peace movements.
  • George Kistiakowsky: Ukrainian-American physical chemistry professor and chairholder at an invited university, Harvard.  In October 1943, he was brought into the Manhattan Project as a consultant.  He was soon placed in charge of X Division, which was responsible for the development of the explosive lenses necessary for an implosion-type nuclear weapon. He later served as President Dwight D. Eisenhower’s Science Advisor.  He severed his connections with the government in protest against the war in Vietnam, and became active in an anti-war organization, the Council for a Livable World, becoming its chairman in 1977.  At Harvard, his research interests were in thermodynamics, spectroscopy, and chemical kinetics.
    • The nomination was made jointly with E.B Wilson and R.B. Woodward.
  • Edgar Bright Wilson, Jr.: American chemist who received his doctorate under the Pauling’s supervision.  Wilson made major contributions to the field of molecular spectroscopy and developed the theory of how rotational spectra are influenced by centrifugal distortion during rotation.  He pioneered the use of group theory for the analysis and simplification of normal mode analysis, particularly for high symmetry molecules, such as benzene.  Following the Second World War, Wilson conducted important work on the application of microwave spectroscopy to the determination of molecular structure.
  • Robert Burns Woodward (see 1948 Zechmeister nomination in previous post)
  • Charles Coryell: American chemist and co-discoverer of the element promethium.  Coryell earned a Ph.D. at California Institute of Technology in 1935 as the student of Arthur A. Noyes.  During the late 1930s, he engaged in research on the structure of hemoglobin in association with Linus Pauling and together they published several journal articles.  When he nominated Pauling he was a chairholder at MIT, which was invited to submit nominations.

 

1950:

  • Maurice Auméras: French chemist who, in 1950, was a chairholder at an invited university in Paris.
  • Wilhelm Gerhard Burgers: Chemist who studied the structure of matter and its physical properties. He was a chairholder at an invited university in the Netherlands at Delft.
  • Jean Doeuvre: French organic chemist who was a chairholder at an invited university in Lyon, France.
  • Paul-Antoine Giguère: Canadian chemist and chairholder at the invited Université Laval, located in Quebec.  He worked at Caltech with Pauling in the 1930s.
  • Stig Claesson: Professor of chemistry at a Nordic university listed in the special regulations of 1900, the University of Uppsala, Sweden.
    • Nominated with Robert Sanderson Mulliken: American physicist and chemist who was primarily responsible for the early development of molecular orbital theory, or the elaboration of the molecular orbital method of computing the structure of molecules. In 1934 he derived a new scale for measuring the electronegativity of elements. Mulliken’s scale does not entirely correlate with that developed by Linus Pauling, but is generally in close correspondence.  He was a professor at the University of Chicago and received the Nobel Prize for chemistry in 1966.

 

1951:

  • Hans Erwin Deuel: Swiss agricultural chemist at Technische Hochschule in Zurich who studied colloidal chemistry, focusing on plant gums and pectins in particular.
  • Jacques Hadamard (see above)
  • Bernardo Houssay: Argentine physiologist and member of the Royal Academy of Sciences who worked in the field of physiology, researching the nervous, digestive, respiratory and circulatory systems.  In the 1930s, Houssay demonstrated the diabetogenic effect on anterior hypophysis extracts and the decrease in diabetes severity with anterior hypophysectomy. These discoveries stimulated the study of hormonal feedback control mechanisms which are central to multiple aspects of modern endocrinology.  In 1947 he received one half of a Nobel Prize for Physiology or Medicine for his discovery of the role played by pituitary hormones in regulating the amount of glucose in animals.  The other half of the prize went to Carl Ferdinand Cori and Gerty Cori, who won for their discoveries regarding the role of glucose in carbohydrate metabolism.  Houssay was the first Argentine and Latin American Nobel laureate in the sciences.
  • Charles P. Smyth (see 1946 nomination in previous post)

 

1952:

  • Einar Hille: American mathematician who taught at Yale University.  He was a member of both the United States National Academy of Sciences and the Swedish Royal Academy of Science.
  • Arne Tiselius (see 1948 Riegel nomination in previous post)

 

1953:

  • Edward Doisy: American biochemist and professor at St. Louis University.  Doisy received the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine in 1943 with Henrik Dam for their discovery of vitamin K (K from “Koagulations” which is German for “vitamin”) and its chemical structure.  Doisy and Dam’s work stimulated research in endocrinology and opened up a new subfield of organic chemistry focusing on steroid compounds.
  • Paul-Antoine Giguère (see above)
  • Jacques Hadamard (see above)
  • Felix Haurowitz: Czech-American biochemist and doctor who taught chemistry at Indiana University.  He made key discoveries regarding hemoglobin and immunochemistry, including research in critical respiratory protein and spectroscopy of horse hemoglobin.
  • Julian M. Sturtevant: Biochemist at Yale University and a pioneer in collecting thermodynamic and kinetic data for important biochemical reactions.  He obtained a value for the enthalpy change in DNA structural transitions, which is central to the physical theories surrounding DNA structure and function.  Sturtevant also developed refined calorimetric instruments that allowed for accurate heat measurements to be made of protein structural changes, which is vital to understanding protein chemistry.  Using these instruments he conducted detailed studies measuring energy transfers during cellular metabolism and the mechanism of action of the various serine enzymes.
  • Albert Szent-Györgyi (see 1941 nomination in previous post)
  • Reine Leimu: A chemist based in Turku, Finland.
  • Karl Freudenberg: German chemist who did early seminal work on the absolute configurations of carbohydrates, terpenes, and steroids, and on the structure of cellulose and other polysaccharides. He also researched the nature, structure, and biosynthesis of lignin.  The Research Institute for the Chemistry of Wood and Polysaccharides was developed at the University of Heidelberg for him.

1954i.42

Ava Helen and Linus Pauling dancing at the 1954 Nobel Ball. Photo Credit: Pressens Bild, Stockholm.

1954:

  • Edward Doisy (see above)
  • Jacques Hadamard (see above)
  • Albert Szent-Györgyi (see above)
  • Irène Joliot-Curie: Working in Paris either alone or in collaboration with her husband, Frédéric Joliot-Curie, at the Institut du Radium, Joliot-Curie conducted important work on natural and artificial radioactivity, transmutation of elements, and nuclear physics.  She shared the 1935 Nobel Prize in Chemistry with her husband, a recognition of their work synthesizing new radioactive elements.  She was also Commissioner for Atomic Energy in France and oversaw construction of first French cyclotron.  Throughout her career she took an interest in the social and intellectual advancement of women.
  • Frédéric Joliot-Curie: Physicist working at the Institut du Radium in Paris.  Collaborating with his wife, Irène, Joliot-Curie discovered that radioactive elements decompose spontaneously, usually with a long period, by emitting positive or negative particles.
  • Rolf Helmer Roschier: Finnish chemist and professor of wood chemistry at the Helsinki University of Technology.  He studied terpenes, the manufacturing of wood pulp, and paper and wood saccharification.
  • Terje Enkvist: Finnish chemist at the University of Helsinki.  He worked in the field of wood chemistry.
  • Niilo Johannes Toivonen: Finnish chemist and professor at the University of Helsinki.  He also worked with pharmaceutical companies and on the editorial board for a Finnish encyclopedia.
  • Jean-Francois Wyart: Based in Paris when he nominated Pauling for the Nobel Prize, he worked in crystal structures and spectrochemistry.
  • Arne Tiselius (see 1948 Riegel nomination in previous post)
  • Theodor Svedberg: A Swedish chemist at Uppsala University, he won the Nobel Prize in Chemistry in 1926 “for his work on disperse systems.”  Svedberg’s research focused primarily on colloids and macromolecular compounds.  His work with colloids supported the theories of Brownian motion put forward by Albert Einstein and the Polish geophysicist Marian Smoluchowski, and therein contributed additional proof to the existence of molecules.  To support his experimentation, Svedberg developed the technique of analytical ultracentrifugation, and demonstrated its utility in distinguishing pure proteins from one another.  Svedberg also studied the physical properties of colloids, such as their diffusion, light absorption, and sedimentation, from which it could be concluded that the gas laws could be applied to disperse systems.
  • Freudenberg (see above)
    • Nominated with Hans Lebrecht Meerwein: German organic chemist who discovered cationic rearrangement reactions, carbenes, and an important alkylating reagent.  He is known primarily for his work on the reduction of aldehydes and ketones with aluminum alcoholates.   Through his research he clarified the mechanism of many organic reactions.
  • Harlow Shapley:  American astronomer and professor at Harvard.  He used RR Lyrae stars to correctly estimate the size of the Milky Way Galaxy and the sun’s position within it, and found that galaxies tend to occur in clusters, which he called metagalaxies.  In 1953 he proposed his “liquid water belt” theory, now known as the concept of a habitable zone.  He believed that national or international affairs should be given higher priority than research and writing.
    • Nominated with Robert Burns Woodward (see 1948 Zechmeister nomination in previous post)
    • Shapley’s first choice was Pauling and his second choice was Woodward.

 

Physiology or Medicine

1953:

  • John Tileston Edsall: Early protein scientist and professor of biochemistry at Harvard who contributed significantly to the understanding of the hydrophobic interaction. He was active in preserving the history of protein science, and devoted to the study of proteins and their constituent amino acids.  His early work contributed to establishing proteins as unique, large structured molecules that deserved the same intense study as had become commonplace for the chemistry of small molecules.
    • Nominated with Frederick Sanger: British biochemist who won the Nobel Prize in Chemistry in 1958 “for his work on the structure of proteins, especially that of insulin.”  He also received one quarter of a Nobel Prize in Chemistry in 1980, split with Paul Berg – who received one half of the Prize “for his fundamental studies of the biochemistry of nucleic acids, with particular regard to recombinant-DNA” – and with Walter Gilbert who received one quarter of the Prize with Sanger “for their contributions concerning the determination of base sequences in nucleic acids.”
    • Nominated with Robert Brainard Corey:  American biochemist, mostly known for his role in the discovery of the α-helix and the β-sheet with Linus Pauling.  Their discoveries were remarkably correct, and their bond lengths remained the most accurate for the next forty years.  The α-helix and β-sheet are two structures that are now known to form the backbones of many proteins.  While it was Pauling who had the intuition and imagination that produced these concepts, it was Corey who was primarily responsible for proving them correct by carrying out the necessary diffraction experiments.  Together, Pauling and Corey authored more than 30 papers.