Last week, on November 10th, it was World Science Day for Peace and Development. This event was established in 2001 and aims to promote the role of science in society and how it relates to peace and development.
And what would be a better example than that of Linus Pauling, an incredible chemist who won a Nobel Prize in Chemistry and a Nobel Peace Prize?
Born in 1901, he applied the recent development of quantum mechanics in the early 20th century into explaining chemistry and chemical bonds. He won the 1954 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.” Pretty much, he worked out a number of aspects of how atoms bond together (he published over 350 papers throughout his career) and how their bonding affects molecular structure. In fact, we still use his scale of Pauling units for electronegativities of different atoms, definitely showing that his legacy has stretched on throughout the science years later! You can read his Nobel lecture here, a fascinating read if you’re into chemistry.
8 years later he won a second Nobel prize, the 1962 Nobel Peace Prize. In fact, he remains the only person to have ever been awarded two undivided Nobel prizes that were not shared with other laureates. This prize was for his work in protesting nuclear weapon development and drafting of the “Hiroshima Appeal” and work to enact the nuclear test ban on the USA, Great Britain and Soviet Union. He worked with other scientists in this, but his role was pivotal and resulted in the award of the 1962 Peace Prize.
It is wonderful to remember such scientists on World Science Day (even if this is a little late) as well as helping to promote science in society. If you’re still interested, you can read more about Linus Pauling’s life and work in this articles: