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Thursday, October 11, 2018

Linus Pauling and imagination


Photo source: Wikimedia Commons, Nobel Foundation


Linus Pauling (1901-1994) was an American biochemist best known for his analysis of chemical bonds and the structure of biological molecules. Biochemist Francis Crick said,


"I do not think, as I said earlier, that it is right to discuss the impact of Linus Pauling on molecular biology. Rather, he was one of the founders of molecular biology. It was not that it existed in some way, and he simply made a contribution. He was one of the founders who got the whole discipline going." (The Impact of Linus Pauling on Molecular Biology, 1995)


The rest of this post is some quotes from Pauling.




"I have a great curiosity about the nature of the world as a whole, and most of my ideas are qualitative rather than quantitative." (Interview with George B. Kauffman and Laurie M. Kauffman, 1994)


Scientific progress


"The scientists of the past whom we now recognize as great are those who were gifted with transcendental imaginative powers..." (Imagination in Science, 1943)


"I keep looking for some... problem where someone has made an observation that doesn't fit into my picture of the universe. If it doesn't fit in, then I find some way of fitting in it." (Interview with George B. Kauffman and Laurie M. Kauffman, 1994)


"It is structure that we look for whenever we try to understand anything. All science is built upon this search..." (The Place of Chemistry in the Integration of the Sciences, 1950)


"If you want to have good ideas you must have many ideas. Most of them will be wrong and what you have to learn is which ones to throw away." (Quoted in The Impact of Linus Pauling on Molecular Biology by Francis Crick)




"Genetics was, I would say, the first part of biology to become a pretty good theoretical subject, based on the theory of the gene and patterns of inheritance of characteristics." (Interview with Neil A. Campbell, 1986)


"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." (Interview with Neil A. Campbell, 1986)