Segments in this Video

Early Scientific Curiosity (08:52)


Oregon State University was the recipient of Linus Pauling and Ava Helen's body of work. Pauling was born in Portland in 1901; by age 13, he was interested in chemistry. In 1917, he attended OSU, and began conceiving of atomic interactions.

Ava Helen Miller (03:00)

Oregon State University professors offered Pauling a teaching job after financial problems threatened his education. He met his wife while questioning home economics students; they wrote each other daily while he attended the California Institute of Technology for a post-graduate degree, marrying in 1923.

Graduate and Professor (03:56)

Pauling mastered X-ray crystallography and learned quantum mechanics, facilitating the discovery of several molecular structures, which he believed key to understanding atomic behavior. By age 36, he was the chemistry department chair at California Technical Institute, known for creating and using molecule models in classes.

Marriage Dedication (04:04)

Pauling explored many sciences, and was self-confident; Ava encouraged his studies, accompanying him to Europe when he received the Guggenheim Fellowship. They had four children, with whom he had minimum contact; she believed her job was to save him from household distractions, and he valued her opinions.

Cross Disciplinary Scientist (05:06)

Pauling was an effective teacher, publishing "The Nature of the Chemical Bond," and the textbook "General Chemistry." He shifted his study focus to biological molecules after suffering kidney problems; he diagnosed sickle cell anemia as molecular affliction and published papers about the alpha helix discovery in 1951.

Attempting to Influence Policy (07:16)

During World War II, Pauling worked against Hitler's regime, earning the Presidential Medal of Merit; he and Ava joined civil liberties organizations promoting world peace. After atomic bombs were used on Japan, scientists worldwide petitioned to prevent nuclear war; labeled a Communist sympathizer, he was under federal investigation for twenty years.

Career Failures and Successes (02:46)

Finding deoxyribonucleic acid's structure became a contest between Pauling and scientists Watson and Crick. They used Rosalind Franklin's photograph to produce their correct model after he published an erroneous construction. In 1954, he won the Nobel Prize in Chemistry for work on chemical bonds.

Nuclear Protestor (06:50)

Super hydrogen bomb testing triggered Pauling's social work. He publicly addressed health risks and circulated a petition within international scientific communities to present to the United Nations in 1958. In 1963, several countries entered into a partial ban treaty, and he was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize.

Controversial Health Discoveries (07:51)

Pauling left California Technical Institute to study Orthomolecular medicine, forming theories regarding nutritional deficiencies; he found vitamin C helpful in fighting colds and cancers. The National Cancer Institute's research contested his findings; his books sparked scientific and public interest in medicinal vitamins.

Legacy of Science and Peace (02:32)

Pauling died of prostate cancer in 1994, following Ava's death in 1981 of stomach cancer. He saw their correspondence and work as a way to immortalize their bond, donating the 500,000 item collection of letters, scientific notes, and research items to Oregon State University.

Credits: Linus Pauling (00:60)

Credits: Linus Pauling

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Linus Pauling

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This program explores the life of one of the greatest scientists and humanitarians of the 20th century and the only person in history to win two unshared Nobel Prizes — for chemistry in 1954 and Peace in 1962. Pauling received his doctorate in chemistry at the California Institute of Technology where he made revolutionary discoveries in chemistry, physics, molecular biology and medicine. World War II, however, would change Pauling's life dramatically. During the height of the Cold War, he and his wife, Ava Helen, challenged the world to stop the spread of nuclear weapons. Pauling became one of the most visible scientists and peace activists in the 1950s and '60s. For his efforts he was labeled a communist, had his name dragged through the mud, and endured more than 20 years of investigations by the FBI. Linus Pauling is a fascinating profile of a brilliant man who never stopped fighting for his beliefs.

Length: 58 minutes

Item#: BVL190173

ISBN: 978-1-64623-599-5

Copyright date: ©2011

Closed Captioned

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