EXHIBIT: The Making of the Atomic Bond

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Science  07 Jan 2005:
Vol. 307, Issue 5706, pp. 21
DOI: 10.1126/science.307.5706.21e

When Linus Pauling (1901–1994) was an undergraduate in chemistry, he began doubting the then-current notion that bonds form when tiny hooks on one atom slip into eyes on another. Pauling would go on to revolutionize our understanding of how atoms link up by sharing electrons, winning the Nobel Prize in 1954. A new site from Oregon State University in Corvallis, Pauling's alma mater, recounts this intellectual odyssey.

Pauling startled chemists in 1928 by announcing that he could use the new field of quantum mechanics to explain the long-standing question of why a carbon atom with four bonds forms a pyramid shape. You can browse the manuscript he published 3 years later that lays out his solution, listing six rules that describe electron sharing by atoms. The site includes other key publications—by the early 1930s, Pauling was writing a significant paper about every 5 weeks—along with stacks of photos, letters, and other memorabilia.


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