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Pauling served on the executive committee of Pasadena's chapter of Union Now. a group that proposed joining all the world's democracies into a world government to fight Hi tier.

war, and we, as idealists, are by nature pacifists and opposed to war. But we are being forced into war anyway. ... It is the cancerous growth of Nazism—of dictatorship in general—that must be eradicated from the otherwise orderly organism of the world."

Pauling's anti-Nazi sentiments were shared by many high-ranking officials. Even before declaring war, the U.S. government began preparing by mobilizing scientists to help solve a number of technical problems plaguing the military. Pauling was eager to do anything he could. In October 1940, he joined 30 other chemists in a Washington, D.C., meeting with army and navy officers and heard a wish list of military needs, including requests for new medicines and better explosives. The navy had a particular problem: Their submarine force was plagued by an inability to measure oxygen levels accurately, a deficiency that led to either too much oxygen, risking an explosion, or too little, leading to drowsy submariners.

On the way back to Pasadena on the train, Pauling brainstormed a way to make an accurate oxygen meter. The trick was to take advantage of the fact that oxygen, alone of all the common gases, was attracted to a magnet. When he got home, Pauling had an assistant put together a device that suspended within a sample of the air to be tested a tiny, delicately balanced hollow tube filled with a normal concentration of oxygen. The entire setup was then put between the ends of a horseshoe magnet. Any change in the magnetic behavior of the air sample being tested would affect how the hollow tube turned in the magnetic field, a change that could be read out on a dial. The system he devised worked, and the Pauling Oxygen Analyzer was soon in production at Caltech.

Then Pauling's war efforts were sidelined by illness. On a trip to New York in March 1941 to receive an award, he noticed that his energy was flagging and his joints seemed to be swelling. His shoes and shirt collars were tight,

I Linus Pauling

In 1940, Pauling developed this oxygen meter that would allow submarines to accurately measure oxygen levels.

In 1940, Pauling developed this oxygen meter that would allow submarines to accurately measure oxygen levels.

his eyes swollen shut in the morning. Alarmed, he saw a doctor.

The diagnosis was Bright's disease, a serious progressive ailment that prevents the kidneys from properly filtering the blood. The outlook was not good, his doctors told him. Bright's disease almost always damaged the kidneys so severely that the patient died. Shaken, Pauling and Ava Helen returned to Pasadena, where Pauling decided that he was going to fight for his life. He put himself under the care of a brilliant, individualistic kidney specialist he had heard about named Thomas Addis. Addis had his own theory about Bright's disease, and had developed a dietary method of treatment that most of his medical colleagues thought nonsense. But Pauling had nothing to lose. Soon he was religiously following Addis's salt-free, low-protein dietary regimen, heavy with bananas and gelatin, supplemented with vitamins and minerals. Ava Helen made certain he never deviated, becoming her husband's nurse and dietitian, carefully weighing each portion of food, gauging the nutrient values, noting everything in a spiral notebook.

Amazingly, Addis's program seemed to work. After some weeks in bed, Pauling began working half-days. After four months his swelling was gone; after six months his mental and physical energy was returning to normal. "For many years after that," one of Pauling's friends recalled, "it seemed to me that he was getting younger every year instead of older." Pauling stayed on a low-protein diet for 15 years, attributing his survival and good health to Addis.

All his renewed energy went into the war effort. After the United States declared war in December 1941, Caltech's researchers turned from the structure of the universe to the design of munitions and defense materials. Pauling's laboratories became hives of research into explosives, rocket propellants, and artificial blood plasma for wounded soldiers. He traveled often, visiting munitions plants and providing scientific advice to government agencies. He codesigned and patented an armor-piercing shell. He even had a chance to join the most important project of the war, when J. Robert Oppenheimer invited Pauling to join the top-secret group at Los Alamos, New Mexico, that was working to develop the atomic bomb. Pauling, loath either to leave his family or relocate, declined the offer, "Not because I felt that it was wrong to work on the development of nuclear weapons," Pauling said, "rather that I had other jobs that I was doing."

The war years were not easy ones for the Pauling family. From the yard of their home in the hills above Pasadena, they could hear the booming explosions from Caltech's powder research labs. There were air-raid scares and food and fuel rationing. Ava Helen grew vegetables for the family in a home "Victory Garden," helped in a Caltech laboratory that was developing artificial rubber, and trained as an air-raid warden.

Pauling's wife also took a strong stand against the forced internment of West Coast Japanese Americans, who, in a government effort to prevent espionage and unrest during the war, were herded into what Ava Helen and others felt were American concentration camps. To protest this injustice, she began volunteering in the Los Angeles office of the American Civil Liberties Union, which was fighting the internment.

All this meant that the Pauling children saw less and less of their parents. Linus, Jr., after a troubled time settling down in high school, enlisted in the air corps and left home toward the end of the war. The other children felt varying degrees of loneliness and isolation.

The war was not easy on anyone. But sacrifices had to be made if Pauling's "orderly organism of the world" was to be made whole again.

Linus Pauling Protest

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