Paper: A Biography of Linus Pauling, a Nobel Laureate

Pauling's quest for knowledge did not stop after these initial achievements. He pursued the biological manifestations of chemical bonding. Biological molecules are far more complex in terms of chemical bonding characteristics, and this presented a challenge for Pauling. His initial attack on these frontiers was the hemoglobin molecule. His group at CalTech was the first to determine the structure of such a huge molecule and describe its characteristics, such as the mechanics of bonding to oxygen. His work on hemoglobin propelled the field of protein biochemistry, which flourished in the ensuing years. In addition, this work provided the foundation for understanding the molecular basis of sickle-cell anemia, a common disease among those of African descent. It causes red blood cells to aggregate and block blood vessels. From his understanding of the chemical structure of hemoglobin, Pauling deduced that this clumping of blood may be caused by abnormal hemoglobin molecules that have mutually complementary regions, which would attract each other via weak intermolecular forces. This attraction would cause the molecules to stick together and distort the red blood cell into a “sickled" shape. This distorted cell is defective in its binding to oxygen, which causes the clinical symptoms of the disease. Pauling's achievements in science ranged from physical chemistry to molecular medicine to genetics. His intellectual pursuits led to some of the most fundamental discoveries about the nature of inorganic and organic molecules. But he didn't limit his intellect to the laboratory; he used his celebrity status as a world-renowned chemist and his expertise in chemistry to help halt nuclear testing. His second Nobel Prize - the first was in Chemistry - marked his achievements in seeking world peace....