"The Social Responsibilities of Scientists and Science" Pauling, Linus (1966)

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"The Social Responsibilities of Scientists and Science"
Linus Pauling (1966)

URL: http://www.nsta.org/pubs/tst/feature0001pauling.asp or www.nsta.org (click high school, Science Teacher, and archives links, then search)

SITE SUMMARY: Written by Pauling when he was a Research Professor of Physical and Biological Sciences at the Center for Study of Democratic Institutions in California, this article is based on an address he gave at the annual convention of the National Science Teachers Association (NSTA), April 3, 1966. It first appeared in print in the May 1966 issue of the Science Teacher, was reprinted in the January 2000 issue, excerpted, and then reproduced online, by the NSTA. In this article, Pauling points out situations unique to the modern world and obligations involving those situations that scientists have because of their actions and knowledge. (Once freely accessible, this article is now accessible to students only if their educators are NSTA members.)


  1. Read paragraph one. Name two things that Pauling said about "a special responsibility" that scientists have in the modern world.
  2. Read paragraph two. What in general, and in particular (i.e., six things), changed because of scientists' discoveries, and why? Provide two examples (one each from the past and the present), from one of the first five answers you provided when identifying six things in particular. Tell what special part scientists must now play because of their discoveries, and give an example from the world you know about.
  3. Read paragraph three. What is known by scientists, and by non-scientists? Give an example other than the one Pauling mentioned.
  4. See paragraph five. What did Pauling believe everyone will have? How long will it take, if what doesn't happen? What did he believe will win, and will happen?
  5. See paragraph twelve, the first and last sentences. What, according to Pauling, must scientists learn to do, and what is the question they must ask themselves?
  6. See paragraph thirteen. According to Pauling, scientists have general responsibilities resulting from what, and in relation to what? Identify their duty (including three aspects) because of these responsibilities.
  7. Identify eleven problems with which scientists may be concerned, then choose one problem. How has human civilization fared in solving this problem, and how, in general, have scientists helped, or tried helping? Identify and describe a way that Pauling has helped. Quote him if possible. (Tip: For some help, especially with regard to human civilization, and Pauling's helping, see the Web sites for the Pauling Virtual Exhibition, Nobel Prize in Chemistry—1954—Presentation Speech, Linus Pauling and the Peace Movement—A Conversation with the Nobel Laureate, and Scientists for Global Responsibility. Their urls are cited in the Related Internet Sites section below.)


Linus Pauling Research Notebooks


Links go to digital reproductions of Pauling's handwritten notebooks one to forty-six in his cryptic handwriting, an extensive alphabetical subject index, and selected highlights. Among the highlighted items note Early Books One Through Thirteen on the Structure of Crystals which eventually led to his publication The Nature of the Chemical Bond (one of the "seminal texts of modern science"), notes on writing and editing his "influential text" College Chemistry, and an open letter to George H.W. Bush in 1991 that begins with a statement on duty with reference to scientists and rulers. In the highlights area see also notes on Pauling's work on protein structure, superconductivity, bond lengths, atomic nuclei, anesthesia, and more.

Ava Helen and Linus Pauling Papers at Oregon State University


This site has a detailed bibliographical listing that is "considered to be one of the more important scientific archives of an individual" of the twentieth century. There are also some links to articles and Web sites about Pauling. Features include links to a new "Overview 'The Science and Humanism of Linus Pauling, 1901–1994' by Stephen F. Mason," "Special Collections Reading Curriculum," "1995 Pauling Symposium Papers Online," and a "Pauling Centenary Celebration." Pull-down menus lead to a catalogue with links to citations of correspondence, publications, manuscripts and typescripts of articles, speeches, and books, research notebooks, newspaper clippings, biographical items, science, peace, and more, plus other Pauling information (e.g., a timeline of his life, and a Linus Pauling Exhibit).

Linus Pauling, Scientist and Humanitarian—Virtual Exhibition


This exhibit and its Web site (established primarily by the Pauling Family and Oregon State University), features information on The Scientist, Early and College Years, Pauling Speaks Out, a Table of Contents with Pauling's Process of Discovery, What Do We Mean By Structure? "What is a Molecule?" "What is a Chemical Bond?" "What is a Protein?" plus a Biography (with The Chemistry of Life—Introduction, Vitamin C and Orthomolecular Medicine, An Exciting Detour Into Quantum Physics, The Science of Peace), etc.

"The Nature of the Chemical Bond—IV—The Energy of Single Bonds and the Relative Electromagnetivity of Atoms" by Linus Pauling (1932)

http://dbhs.wvusd.k12.ca.us/Chem-History/Pauling-1932/Pauling-electroneg-1932.html or http://dbhs.wvusd.k12.ca.us/Chem-History/Pauling-1932 (click link)

This article was first published in the Journal of the American Chemical Society, September 1932, and is considered a landmark paper in the history of chemistry. Pauling, a winner of the 1954 Nobel Chemistry Prize, may be best known for the "landmark research on the nature of the chemical bond" as revealed in this article, and for that research's "application to understanding the structure of complex substances such as protein molecules and antibodies" (as stated at the Pauling Virtual Exhibit Web site). It is provided by the Chem Team and has a link at Carmen Giunta's Selected Classic Papers in Chemistry Web site. It is also a "Contribution from the Gates Chemical Laboratory, California Institute of Technology, no. 326."

Nobel Prize in Chemistry 1954—Presentation Speech by Professor G. Haag


Haag, a member of the Nobel Committee for Chemistry at the Royal Swedish Academy of Science, presented this speech to Pauling, an honored guest on receiving the Nobel Prize in Chemistry, and provided information on Dr. Pauling's work that led to his being awarded the prize. There are also a link to a biography of Pauling, and a link to Pauling's Nobel lecture "Modern Structural Chemistry" given on December 11, 1954, and available here in PDF format.

Excerpts from a Last Interview with Linus Pauling—Institute of Optimum Nutrition


On how Pauling thought he would be remembered, and his view of Vitamin C's value. From April 9, 1994 talks with QED BBC-TV's Tony Edwards and Patrick Holford during a Power of Prevention Conference.

"Linus Pauling" in Biographical Memoirs (Volume 71, 1997)—National Academy Press

http://www.nap.edu/books/0309057388/html/221.html#pagetop or http://www.nap.edu (search in the Search All Text box)

If trouble accessing, go to www.nap.edu, do a search for, and follow the links to, Biographical Memoirs (volume 71, 1997), then find and click their "Read Online" link.

Linus Pauling and the Peace Movement—A Conversation with the Nobel Laureate


The first of an eight-page typed transcript (all provided here) of a conversation with Pauling as winner of the Nobel Peace Prize in 1963. This conversation occurred at the Institute of International Studies in 1983.

On Being a Scientist: Responsible Conduct in Research


The National Academy Press provides this online book which was issued in 1995 by the Committee on Science, Engineering, and Public Policy. See contents page links to The Social Foundations of Science, Values in Science, The Scientists in Society, Responding to Violations of Ethical Standards, Misconduct in Science, Error and Negligence in Science, Conflicts of Interest, Experimental Techniques and the Treatment of Data, The Allocation of Credit, and Discussion of Case Studies.

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"The Social Responsibilities of Scientists and Science" Pauling, Linus (1966)

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"The Social Responsibilities of Scientists and Science" Pauling, Linus (1966)