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Home > Dictionary of Science Quotations > Scientist Names Index P > Linus Pauling Quotes > Life

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Linus Pauling
(28 Feb 1901 - 19 Aug 1994)

American chemist, physicist and author who applied quantum mechanics to the study of molecular structures, particularly in connection with chemical bonding. Pauling was the only person ever to win two unshared Nobel prizes (Chemistry in 1954, and Peace in 1962).


Linus Pauling Quotes on Life (9 quotes)

>> Click for 49 Science Quotes by Linus Pauling

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I have been especially fortunate for about 50 years in having two memory banks available—whenever I can't remember something I ask my wife, and thus I am able to draw on this auxiliary memory bank. Moreover, there is a second way In which I get ideas ... I listen carefully to what my wife says, and in this way I often get a good idea. I recommend to ... young people ... that you make a permanent acquisition of an auxiliary memory bank that you can become familiar with and draw upon throughout your lives.
— Linus Pauling
T. Goertzel and B. Goertzel, Linus Pauling (1995), 240.
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It is possible with … carbon … to form very large molecules that are stable. This results from the stability of the carbon-to-carbon bond. You must have complexity in order to achieve the versatility characteristic of living organisms. You can achieve this complexity with carbon forming the molecular backbone.
— Linus Pauling
From interview with Neil A. Campbell, in 'Crossing the Boundaries of Science', BioScience (Dec 1986), 36, No. 11, 739.
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Life ... is a relationship between molecules.
— Linus Pauling
Quoted In T. Hager, Force of Nature: The Life of Linus Pauling (1997), 542.
Science quotes on:  |  Life (1870)  |  Molecule (185)  |  Relationship (114)

Life is too complicated to permit a complete understanding through the study of whole organisms. Only by simplifying a biological problem—breaking it down into a multitude of individual problems—can you get the answers.
— Linus Pauling
From interview with Neil A. Campbell, in 'Crossing the Boundaries of Science', BioScience (Dec 1986), 36, No. 11, 738.
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One can ask: “If I crystallize a virus to obtain a crystal consisting of the molecules that make up the virus, are those molecules lifeless or not?” … The properties of living organisms are those of aggregates of molecules. It’s very difficult to draw a line between molecules that are lifeless and molecules that are not lifeless.
— Linus Pauling
From interview with Neil A. Campbell, in 'Crossing the Boundaries of Science', BioScience (Dec 1986), 36, No. 11, 738.
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The nucleic acids, as constituents of living organisms, are comparable In importance to proteins. There is evidence that they are Involved In the processes of cell division and growth, that they participate In the transmission of hereditary characters, and that they are important constituents of viruses. An understanding of the molecular structure of the nucleic acids should be of value In the effort to understand the fundamental phenomena of life.
[Co-author with American chemist, B. Corey (1897-1971)]
— Linus Pauling
'A Proposed Structure for the Nucleic Acids', Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (1953), 39, 84.
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The scientist, if he is to be more than a plodding gatherer of bits of information, needs to exercise an active imagination. The scientists of the past whom we now recognize as great are those who were gifted with transcendental imaginative powers, and the part played by the imaginative faculty of his daily life is as least as important for the scientist as it is for the worker in any other field—much more important than for most. A good scientist thinks logically and accurately when conditions call for logical and accurate thinking—but so does any other good worker when he has a sufficient number of well-founded facts to serve as the basis for the accurate, logical induction of generalizations and the subsequent deduction of consequences.
— Linus Pauling
‘Imagination in Science’, Tomorrow (Dec 1943), 38-9. Quoted In Barbara Marinacci (ed.), Linus Pauling In His Own Words: Selected Writings, Speeches, and Interviews (1995), 82.
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There came in February the issue of Life saying on the cover “Dr. Teller Refutes 9000 Scientists”… I wrote to Life and said first that Teller hadn’t refuted 9000 scientists and second I felt that they should publish the article that I had written… They sent the article back and said that they didn’t want it and then I offered it to Look. The editor of Look called me and said they couldn’t get into a controversy with Life. Then I offered it to the Saturday Evening Post and the Ladies Home Journal and Readers Digest and none of them were interested in it. And then I thought, “What shall I do? I’ll have to write a book and see if I can’t get it published.”’
— Linus Pauling
As quoted in Ted Goertzel, et al., Linus Pauling: A Life in Science and Politics (1965, 1995), 46.
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We may say that life has borrowed from inanimate processes the same mechanism used in producing these striking structures that are crystals.
— Linus Pauling
‘The Nature of Forces between Large Molecules of Biological Interest’, Nature (1948), 161, 708.
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See also:
  • 28 Feb - short biography, births, deaths and events on date of Pauling's birth.
  • Linus Pauling in His Own Words: Selections From his Writings, Speeches and Interviews, by Barbara Marinacci. - book suggestion.
  • Booklist for Linus Pauling.

Carl Sagan Thumbnail In science it often happens that scientists say, 'You know that's a really good argument; my position is mistaken,' and then they would actually change their minds and you never hear that old view from them again. They really do it. It doesn't happen as often as it should, because scientists are human and change is sometimes painful. But it happens every day. I cannot recall the last time something like that happened in politics or religion. (1987) -- Carl Sagan
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