CORVALLIS - The story of one of the most important discoveries in modern science - and the basis for the most-cited scientific publication of the 20th century - is given fresh life in a vast new website being launched Friday by the Oregon State University Libraries.

"Linus Pauling and the Nature of the Chemical Bond: A Documentary History" features a trove of more than 800 documents. It will make its debut on the web on Dec. 10, marking the 50th anniversary of Pauling's receipt of the Nobel Prize for chemistry in 1954.

The web site is

Pauling, who died in 1994, received his first Nobel Prize for "research into the nature of the chemical bond and its application to the elucidation of complex substances." The impact of this research has been profound.

By applying the new quantum physics to the study of structural chemistry, Pauling revolutionized the science world's understanding of how atoms join together to form molecules. This work today forms the foundation of contemporary structural chemistry and Pauling's 1939 book, "The Nature of the Chemical Bond," is the most frequently-cited scientific publication of the past century.

More than 800 digitized letters, manuscripts, photographs, audio-clips and video excerpts - most of them never before available outside of archives - form the heart of chemical bond website. They include a number of important and unique items, such as:

  • The complete manuscript of Pauling's first paper in 1931 on the nature of the chemical bond;


  • Hundreds of additional pages of manuscripts and notes written by Pauling as he expanded and fine-tuned his theories of structural chemistry throughout the 1930s;


  • Pauling's extensive correspondence with many of the major chemists of the era including G.N. Lewis, A.A. Noyes and Irving Langmuir.

The original documents are tied together with a narrative describing the details of Pauling's discoveries, and are amplified by a "day-by-day" calendar, which notes all of Pauling's personal and professional activities throughout the 1930s as well as his Nobel year of 1954.

Pauling, a 1923 OSU alumnus, is the only individual to win two unshared Nobel Prizes, for chemistry in 1954 and peace in 1962. OSU Libraries Special Collections is the repository of the Ava Helen and Linus Pauling Papers.

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Cliff Mead, 541-737-2083