"A couple of days after my talk, there was a man in my office from the FBI saying - Who told you how much plutonium there is in an atomic bomb? And I said - Nobody told me, I figured it out."
In the late 1940s, few Americans had any idea what the long-term effects of nuclear radiation might be, and their government wasn't telling them. Dr. Linus Pauling had already won renown for his application of modern physics to the problems of chemistry when he took on the unpopular task of informing the public about the dangers of nuclear weapons.
Pauling endured ostracism and ridicule for his uncompromising stand, but went on to win two Nobel Prizes: the 1954 award for Chemistry and the1962 Nobel Peace Prize for his efforts to end the open-air testing of nuclear weapons. To the end of his 93 years, Linus Pauling devoted himself to the cause of world peace, to the struggle against disease, and to educating the public about a multitude of health issues, from the hazards of smoking to the benefits of vitamin C. Pauling's work as a chemist would have been sufficient to earn him an honored place in the history of science, but his humanitarian efforts made him a beloved figure around the world.