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Linus Pauling another great critic of nuclear weapons, winner of Nobel Peace Prize 1962

the life of Linus Pauling
Pauling was one of the founders of molecular biology in the true sense of the term. For these achievements he was awarded the 1954 Nobel Prize in chemistry.

But Pauling was famous not only in the world of science. In the second half of his life he devoted his time and energy mainly to questions of health and the necessity to eliminate the possibility of war in the nuclear age. His active opposition to nuclear testing brought him political persecution in his own country, but he was finally influential in bringing about the 1963 international treaty banning atmospheric tests. With the award of the 1962 Nobel Peace Prize, Pauling became the first person to win two unshared Nobel Prizes (Marie Curie won one and shared another with her husband).

In March 1954, following the Bikini Atoll explosion of a “dirty” thermonuclear superbomb, Pauling was in the news again when he began to call attention to the worldwide danger of radioactive fallout in the atmosphere. In the summer his renewed application for a passport was again turned down, but in November, when his Nobel Prize was announced, the State Department found itself in a public relations dilemma.

The fuss created by Pauling’s absence in London in 1952 would be nothing compared with the international outcry that could be imagined if Pauling were refused permission to travel to attend the Nobel Prize ceremony. So Pauling went to Stockholm, where he was a tremendous success, and followed this by visits to Israel, India, Thailand, and Japan. Everywhere—outside his own country—he was welcomed with enthusiasm, not only for his scientific accomplishments but even more for his political stance.

In the United States, too, the public was becoming increasingly concerned about radioactive fallout, not only from American tests but also from ever more powerful Soviet nuclear explosions. Increasing levels of strontium 90 and carbon 14 made newspaper headlines. Pauling claimed that the increased level of radioactive isotopes in the atmosphere was a danger not only to the living but also to future generations.

The spokesmen on the Atomic Energy Commission countered that, although radiation might be harmful, it was not harmful in the doses produced by the tests and that Pauling vastly exaggerated the dangers. In fact, all the estimates were tentative at best, but since the Atomic Energy Commission was responsible both for developing nuclear weapons and for monitoring the associated health hazards, its estimates were probably no more objective that those who demanded a stop to the tests. Andrei Sakharov (1990) estimated that every one-megaton test cost about 10,000 human lives…..

In 1960 the Senate Internal Security Subcommittee (SISS) headed by Senator Thomas Dodd issued a subpoena to Pauling to answer questions about Communist infiltration of the campaign against nuclear testing. At Pauling’s request the hearings were open and they soon turned into a public relations fiasco for Dodd and the SISS. This was partly because the members of the SISS had not done their homework and partly because it gave Pauling the excuse to lecture them about elementary civic rights and duties: “The circulation of petitions is an important part of our democratic process. If it is abolished or inhibited, it would be a step towards a police state.”

By this time public opinion was mostly on Pauling’s side, but the whole affair must have been experienced by him as an emotional strain—and a tremendous waste of his time and energy…..The treaty went into effect on October 10 and the following day Pauling was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for 1962….. ”…/bi…/memoir-pdfs/pauling-linus.pdf1962


October 23, 2017 - Posted by | 2 WORLD, history, weapons and war

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