Alan Sheets (left); Linus Pauling (center in suit)
I had the rare privilege of working for extraordinary scientist and humanitarian, Linus Carl Pauling, Ph.D. He was a Soultype 5, like me. Working with him made it possible for me to learn and grow from the wisdom of a Soultype 5 who was living a spiritual existence.
My story begins in 1970 when I was accepted into the Ph.D. program in Biology at the University of California, San Diego, USA. At the time, Pauling was in charge of a research laboratory at Stanford University in Palo Alto, California. A couple years into my program, I learned that one of my professors was helping Pauling found the Linus Pauling Institute of Science and Medicine. I asked my professor if I could apply and interview to work there. I was accepted, and I took a leave of absence from UCSD to work with Pauling. It felt like the right thing to do because I would be with and work for such an amazing man.
Linus Pauling is the only person to have received two unshared Nobel Prizes. In 1954 he was awarded the Nobel Prize in Chemistry for his research on chemical bonds and the structure of molecules, crystals, and proteins, specifically the alpha helix. He won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1962 for educating the public about the dangers of the use and proliferation of nuclear weaponry and thermonuclear fallout. Pauling said that his wife and peace activist, Ava Helen Pauling, was the one who truly deserved this award.
[Pauling] maintained that patient, reasoned negotiation and diplomacy, using the objectivity and procedures of the scientific method, would settle disputes in a more lasting, rational, and far more humane way than war. He asked scientists to become peacemakers (1). In response, Caltech University, where Pauling had studied and worked for 42 years, forced Pauling to resign as Chairman of its Department of Chemistry and Chemical Engineering, and Director of the Gates and Crellin Laboratories. United States Senator McCarthy accused him of being a Communist because of his research ties with scientists in Russia, and he was thereafter denied a visa to travel to international conferences.
It felt wonderful to be in Pauling’s presence. He was always calm, cool, and collected. His active mind constantly worked in a very positive way. He neither dwelt on the past, nor was he consumed by it, as many people are. Pauling’s way of being was something I had not seen before. He was more gentle, bigger, and fuller, than anyone I had ever met as he brought new wisdom to the world.
I still remember one day when we had a power failure at the institute. Pauling’s office did not have any windows, so we were really worried about him. When we got to his office and opened the door we saw him calmly sitting at his desk. He said, “The power outage is a great opportunity to think about and evaluate some of my unfinished work.” These words are still with me.
Going to work for Pauling was very much the right decision for me. It helped me see the world in a different way and inspired me to be open and explore new ideas. I did not return to UCSD because I did not want to stop and bring to an end my experience of the huge gift I received when given the opportunity to work with Linus Pauling.
(1) ©2023 Oregon State University; Barbara Marinacci: “Linus Pauling–In Memoriam” Linus Pauling Institute of Science and Medicine, 1994, ©LPISM
Alan Sheets is a Cofounder of New Equations and New Equations Music.