Linus Pauling: A Man and His Science

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9781557784407: Linus Pauling: A Man and His Science

Linus Pauling could be considered the American cowboy of science. His approach to the discipline evinces the same pioneering spirit that drove the early settlers to explore and conquer ever-widening frontiers.

Pauling has always been willing to take risks in proposing controversial new scientific theories: his ground-breaking work on sickle-cell anemia, the theory of anesthesia, chemical bonding, and his near-victory in the DNA race show the tremendous range of his professional talents and curiosity.

Pauling’s approach to life and his role as a public figure reflect the same brand of risk-taking and controversy. Active as a peace crusader and humanitarian, he has never hesitated to question the political or scientific establishments.

He engendered hostility among the scientists of the Manhattan project (developers of the atomic bomb), expressed opposition to 1943 wartime interment of Japanese-Americans, openly defended J. Robert Oppenheimer during the "Red Scare" period, and worked toward a nuclear test-ban treaty in the 1950s.

Anthony Serafini uses letters, documents, and interviews with Pauling’s contemporaries to take the reader through the many facets of Pauling’s life, including his student days, triumphs in chemistry, a 1962 Nobel Peace Prize, and more.

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About the Author:

Anthony Serafini is a professor of philosophy at Centenary College. In addition to a PhD in Philosophy, he has a degree in Biology. He has also run a business for several years, has worked as a newspaper editor, and has taught journalism at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst. His published essays and articles have appeared in professional journals as well as magazines such as Omni and Science.

From Publishers Weekly:

Pauling's hotly contested crusade for the supposed therapeutic value of vitamin C has overshadowed his pioneering contributions to science. His researches into sickle-cell anemia and the biochemical roots of mental illness, his investigations of DNA and the architecture of polypeptide chains, his applications of quantum mechanics to the nature of the chemical bond are the stuff of this solid, workmanlike biography. Serafini, who has written for Omni and other magazines, seems uncomfortable with Pauling's leftist politics, as he covers the charismatic scientist's anti-McCarthyist stances, his campaign for nuclear disarmament and commitment to other causes. Was Pauling involved in a losing race to unravel the structure of DNA? The tantalizing evidence here suggests he was, though most historians and scientists deny this. We also get glimpses of Pauling's acrimonious scientific rivalries, his occasional arrogance and tendency to self-promotion. As for vitamin C, Serafini's thorough appraisal finds that while the evidence is inconclusive, the controversy is "still very much alive." Photos.
Copyright 1989 Reed Business Information, Inc.

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