The Early Life of Lewis Pauling
Lewis Pauling was born on February 28, 1901, in Portland, Oregon. His parents, Herman Henry William Pauling and Lucy Isabelle Darling, were both educated and encouraged their children to pursue their academic interests. Lewis showed a strong aptitude for mathematics and science, which led him to earn a degree in chemical engineering from Oregon State Agricultural College in 1922.
The Impact of Quantum Mechanics on Lewis Pauling’s Career
In 1926, the publication of the Schrödinger equation led Lewis Pauling to become increasingly interested in quantum mechanics. He went on to earn a Ph.D. in physical chemistry from the California Institute of Technology in 1925, under the guidance of Arnold Sommerfeld.
Pauling’s contributions to the field of quantum mechanics were many. He developed the Pauling–Slater rules which predicted the stability of atomic orbitals and contributed to the understanding of the hydrogen bond, a critical component in biochemical bonding. His work in quantum mechanics was instrumental in his development of molecular orbital theory and its application to chemistry.
The Discovery of the Alpha Helix Structure
In 1948, Pauling, along with Robert Corey and Herman Branson, made a groundbreaking discovery in the field of biochemistry. They discovered the structure of proteins through the identification of the alpha helix, a complex helical structure that is present in many proteins. Their work revolutionized the field of biochemistry and opened up a new avenue for the understanding of protein structure and function.
The Contributions of Lewis Pauling to the Understanding of Vitamin C and Health
Pauling, later in his career, devoted time to researching the effects of vitamin C on human health. He believed that high doses of vitamin C could prevent or cure colds, cancer, and many other diseases. His controversial claims led him to write a book, “Vitamin C and the Common Cold,” which became a bestseller.
Despite criticism from the scientific community regarding his claims, Pauling’s research on vitamin C had a lasting impact on human health. His contributions to vitamin C research were recognized when he was awarded the Nobel Prize in Chemistry in 1954.
The Legacy of Lewis Pauling
Lewis Pauling’s contributions to chemistry and biochemistry have had a profound influence on our understanding of these sciences. His work in quantum mechanics and molecular orbital theory have revolutionized chemical education and have impacted the development of modern chemical technologies. His discovery of the alpha helix structure has provided scientists with a foundation for understanding protein structure and function, which has led to significant advancements in the biomedical sciences.
Additionally, Pauling’s research on vitamin C has sparked a debate on the relationship between nutrition and human health, inspiring many to take a more proactive approach to their health and well-being.