Linus Carl Pauling was born in Portland, Oregon, on 28th February, 1901, the son of a druggist, Herman Henry William Pauling, who, though born in Missouri, was of German descent, and his wife, Lucy Isabelle Darling, born in Oregon of English-Scottish ancestry.
Linus attended the public elementary and high schools in the town of Condon and the city of Portland, Oregon, and entered the Oregon State College in 1917, receiving the degree of B.Sc. in chemical engineering in 1922. During the years 1919-1920 he served as a full-time teacher of quantitative analysis in the State College, after which he was appointed a Teaching Fellow in Chemistry in the California Institute of Technology and was a graduate student there from 1922 to 1925, working under Professor Roscoe G. Dickinson and Richard C. Tolman. In 1925 he was awarded the Ph.D. (summa cum laude) in chemistry, with minors in physics and mathematics.
A remarkable man who insistently addressed certain crucial human problems while pursuing an amazing array of scientific interests, Dr. Pauling was almost as well known to the American public as he was to the world`s scientific community. He is the only person ever to receive two unshared Nobel Prizes - for Chemistry (1954) and for Peace (1962)
In addition to the general recognition as one of the two greatest scientists of the 20th century, he was usually acknowledged by his colleagues as the most influential chemist since Lavoisier, the 18th-century founder of the modern science of chemistry. His introductory textbook General Chemistry, revised three times since its first printing in 1947 and translated into 13 languages, has been used by generations of undergraduates. After Pauling entered the field of chemistry as a professional in the mid-1920s, his work, grounded in physics, has affected the work of every chemist. He is also often considered the founding father of molecular biology, which has transformed the biological sciences and medicine and provided the base for biotechnology.
A multifaceted genius with a zest for communication, Linus Pauling for years was probably the most visible, vocal, and accessible American scientist. A black beret worn over a shock of curly white hair became his trademark, along with a pair of lively blue eyes that conveyed his intense interest in challenging topics. He was a master at explaining difficult, even abstruse, medical and scientific information in terms understandable to intelligent lay persons. He wrote numerous articles and books for the general public - on science, peace, and health.
Linus Pauling produced a multitude of scholarly scientific papers on an astounding variety of subjects in numerous research fields. Of the over 1,000 articles and books he published as sole or joint author, about two-thirds are on scientific subjects. His landmark book The Nature of the Chemical Bond is frequently cited as the most influential scientific book of the 20th century.
Linus Pauling was never reluctant to inspire or enter into controversy by expressing unorthodox scientific ideas, taking a strong moral position, or rousing the public to some worthy cause. He often provoked the scientific, medical, and political communities with his imaginative scientific hypotheses and strong social activism. He took professional and personal risks that most of his colleagues avoided. Steadfast and stubborn, yet rarely losing his cheerful equilibrium, he continued on his chosen and sometimes solitary path as a visionary of science and a prophet of humanity.
Over the seven decades of his scientific career, Pauling`s research interests were amazingly wide-ranging and eclectic. He made important discoveries in many different fields of chemistry - physical, structural, analytical, inorganic, and organic chemistry, as well as biochemistry. He used theoretical physics, notably quantum theory and quantum mechanics, in his investigations of atomic and molecular structure and chemical bonding. He ventured into metallurgy and mineralogy through the study of atomic structures and bonding of metals and minerals and, with his colleagues, published the structures of hundreds of inorganic substances, including topaz and mica. In both theoretical and applied medicine he made important discoveries in genetic diseases, hematology, immunology, brain function and psychiatry, molecular evolution, nutritional therapy, diagnostic technology, statistical epidemiology, and biomedicine.
Much of Pauling`s lifework combined the dedication and knowledge of the scientist with a deep commitment to humanitarianism that espoused his own operating ethical principle of the "minimization of suffering."