Linus Carl Pauling (February 28, 1901 – August 19, 1994) was an American chemist, biochemist, peace activist, author, and educator. He was one of the most influential chemists in history and ranks among the most important scientists of the 20th century. Pauling was one of the founders of the fields of quantum chemistry and molecular biology.
Pauling is the only person to be awarded two unshared Nobel Prizes, one of only four individuals to have won more than one (Marie Curie, John Bardeen and Frederick Sanger are the others) and one of only two people awarded Nobel Prizes in different fields (the Chemistry and Peace prizes), the other being Marie Curie (the Chemistry and Physics prizes).
Pauling had been practically apolitical until World War II, but the aftermath of the war and his wife’s pacifism changed his life profoundly, and he became a peace activist. During the beginning of the Manhattan Project, Robert Oppenheimer invited him to be in charge of the Chemistry division of the project, but he declined, not wanting to uproot his family. He did work on other projects that had military applications, such as explosives, rocket propellants, an oxygen meter for submarines and the patent of an armor-piercing shell; he was awarded a Presidential Medal of Merit. In 1946, he joined the Emergency Committee of Atomic Scientists, chaired by Albert Einstein. Its mission was to warn the public of the dangers associated with the development of nuclear weapons. His political activism prompted the U.S. State Department to deny him a passport in 1952, when he was invited to speak at a scientific conference in London. His passport was restored in 1954, shortly before the ceremony in Stockholm where he received his first Nobel Prize. Joining Einstein, Bertrand Russell and eight other leading scientists and intellectuals, he signed the Russell-Einstein Manifesto in 1955.
Pauling’s work on vitamin C in his later years generated much controversy. He was first introduced to the concept of high-dose vitamin C by biochemist Irwin Stone in 1966. After becoming convinced of its worth, Pauling took 3 grams of vitamin C every day to prevent colds. Excited by his own perceived results, he researched the clinical literature and published Vitamin C and the Common Cold in 1970. He began a long clinical collaboration with the British cancer surgeon Ewan Cameron in 1971 on the use of intravenous and oral vitamin C as cancer therapy for terminal patients. Cameron and Pauling wrote many technical papers and a popular book, Cancer and Vitamin C, that discussed their observations. Pauling made vitamin C popular with the public and eventually published two studies of a group of one hundred allegedly terminal patients that claimed vitamin C increased survival by as much as four times compared to untreated patients.