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TueFeb 28

Linus Pauling Day – February 28, 2023

Linus Pauling Day is on February 28 each year. Scientist, health advocate, and peace activist. The list of achievements of this author and educator would be as long as a thesis. The Oregon-born chemical engineer is best known for his outstanding contributions to chemistry and biochemistry, particularly in illuminating the nature of chemical bonds. Considered the father of molecular biology, Pauling won two Nobel Prizes: in 1954 for Chemistry and in 1962 for leading efforts against weapons of mass destruction and the nuclear arms race. The Oregon State University commemorates his achievements every year on February 28, which is Pauling’s birthday.

History of Linus Pauling Day

Linus Pauling was born in Portland, Oregon where his love for science began. As a child, he collected laboratory equipment and carried out several chemistry experiments at home. He spent all of his after-school hours working in his school’s chemistry lab.

In 1922, Pauling completed a degree in chemical engineering from Oregon State College. Soon after, he became a Teaching Fellow at the California Institute of Technology, which would become a home away from home. The institute would also be the birthplace of several scientific breakthroughs in the course of his career. In 1925, he earned a doctorate in physical chemistry and mathematical physics.

Research on molecular structures dominated much of his early years at the California Institute of Technology. He came up with ‘Pauling’s rules’ that enabled scientists to determine and accurately predict crystal structures.

By the mid-1930s, Pauling began to take a keen interest in biological molecules like protein. His studies uncovered the molecular causes for sickle-cell anemia, and a new class of disease – the molecular disease – was born. He also came up with the ‘alpha helix’ or the structure of proteins. Many consider him the father of molecular biology for these achievements and more. He wrote hundreds of papers and scientific articles that informed the course of chemistry during this time.

In 1954, Pauling received the Nobel Prize for Chemistry. The years that followed became a turning point for Pauling. He was deeply affected by the devastation caused by the atomic bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Along with other scientists, he passionately advocated against nuclear arms in international politics. Pauling played a pivotal role in getting the U.S., Great Britain, and the Soviet Union to sign a nuclear test ban treaty on October 10, 1963. On the same day, the Nobel Committee announced that Pauling had won the Nobel Peace Prize.

Linus Pauling Day timeline

1930s
Molecular Helix Research

Pauling begins work on biomolecule structures and comes up with the triple D.N.A. Helix model.

1940s
Understanding Biological Specificity

He turns his attention to how enzymes and antibodies work.

1954 and 1962
Winner of Two Nobel Prizes

Pauling’s brilliant scientific and humanitarian work earns him the Nobel Prize for Chemistry in 1954 and subsequently the Nobel Peace Prize in 1962.

1970
The Rise of Vitamin C

Pauling publishes “Vitamin C and the Common Cold” with data on the health benefits of vitamin C. 

Linus Pauling Day FAQs

Who is Linus Pauling?

Linus Carl Pauling was a Nobel-Prize-winning American scientist. He was a chemist, biochemist, educator, chemical engineer, author, and peace activist. 

What is Linus Pauling most famous for?

Pauling is an American scientist with a list of accomplishments to his name. He is best known for his breakthrough work in chemistry, particularly in uncovering the nature of the chemical bond.

Did Linus Pauling win the Nobel Prize?

Pauling won two Nobel Prizes. He was awarded the Nobel Prize in Chemistry in 1954. In 1962, he won the Nobel Peace Prize for his sustained efforts against weapons of mass destruction.

How to Observe Linus Pauling Day

  1. Visit Oregon State University

    Pauling’s work continues to inspire scientific curiosity and innovation. Located at Oregon State University, the Linus Pauling Research Institute conducts cutting-edge research on optimal health. The institute also promotes ideas of healthy living through trusted public outreach.    

  2. Drink lots of orange juice

    Vitamin C is good for you. Pauling was one of the first scientists to say so, despite overwhelming backlash and criticism from his peers. Raise a glass to Pauling with some freshly-squeezed orange juice today. 

  3. Read up on Pauling

    Trace the life of a brilliant scientist with some reading of your own. Look for material from online libraries that detail his research through the ages. You could also watch the documentary, “Linus Pauling, Crusading Scientist.”

5 Facts About D.N.A. That Will Blow Your Mind

  1. Shared D.N.A. in nature

    Humans share 60% D.N.A. with fruit flies, 40-60% with bananas, and 85% with mice.

  2. It’s constantly mutating

    D.N.A. changes in our body occur approximately one million times a day.

  3. Our closest genetic relatives

    We share 98.7% of our D.N.A. with bonobos and 99% with chimpanzees.

  4. D.N.A. strands are long

    If placed end-to-end, the D.N.A. in the human body’s trillions of cells would reach the sun and back 600 times over.

  5. Know where you come from

    D.N.A. tests can help you discover your ancestors from thousands of years ago.

Why Linus Pauling Day is Important

  1. For the love of science

    Linus Pauling Day is an occasion to celebrate scientific progress and the people who make it happen. Without their dedication to humanity, life would be vastly different and difficult. 

  2. A reminder of what’s important

    Linus Pauling Day asks a vital question around scientific progress — at what cost? It’s rare to find narratives where scientific and humanitarian efforts overlap. Pauling’s work reminds us that the two can, and at times, must go hand-in-hand.

  3. Never back down

    Pauling remained true to his convictions as both a scientist and a peace activist. Linus Pauling Day inspires us to do the same in our own lives.

Linus Pauling Day dates

YearDateDay
2023February 28Tuesday
2024February 28Wednesday
2025February 28Friday
2026February 28Saturday
2027February 28Sunday

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