Science Studies

Classification of the Animal Kingdom by Richard E. Blackwelder

By Richard E. Blackwelder

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A full understanding of molecular structure, he thought, could explain a great deal—perhaps everything—about chemical behavior. What was needed was a new way of understanding molecular structure from the bottom up, from the basic laws of nature. What determined structure? What dictated why atoms arranged themselves in certain ways but not others? What made the bonds between some atoms very strong and others weak? Underlying laws certainly determined these properties—rules of the sort that Pauling had read about in the papers of Gilbert Newton Lewis and Irving Langmuir— but Lewis and Langmuir had not gone far enough.

Its publication in 1931 again brought Pauling international attention and showed the world that he was not only an extraordinary crystallographer but an accomplished chemical theorist. " Caltech, realizing what a prize Pauling was, promoted him to full professor at age 30 and increased his salary. The confidence others had in him was matched by Pauling's self-confidence. He now believed he could rebuild chemistry on a new foundation, using the wave equation text continues or page 54 52 The Bond THE SEMIEMPIRICIST A fter finishing his first paper on the nature of the chemical bond, in 1931, Linus Pauling stopped basing his ideas on mathematical proofs.

He now threw himself totally into extending Heitler and London's concept This sketch from Pauling's research notes shows a proposed structure for a silicate crystal—the type of complex molecular structure impossible to solve before Pauling developed a new approach. 49 Linus Pauling of the chemical bond to all of chemistry. Pauling hammered away at the problem, but for more than two years the answers eluded him. His mind, too restless to stay on any one problem for too long, wandered to other questions.

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