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LINUS PAULING - TYPED LETTER SIGNED 03/25/1958 - HFSID 257119

TLS: "Linus Pauling", 2p, 8½x11, separate sheets. Pasadena, California, 1958 March 25. On letterhead of the California Institute of Technology to Mr. Norman Cousins, The Saturday Review, New York, New York.

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NOBEL PRIZE WINNER LINUS PAULING POINTS OUT ERRORS IN AN EDITORIAL ON NUCLEAR FALLOUT BY "THE SATURDAY REVIEW EDITOR", NORMAN COUSINS, AND OFFERS HIS SCIENTIFIC EXPERTISE TO HELP COUSINS AVOID MAKING FUTURE "UNTRUE OR MISLEADING STATEMENTS"
 
LINUS PAULING.
TLS: "Linus Pauling", 2p, 8½x11, separate sheets. Pasadena, California, 1958 March 25. On letterhead of the California Institute of Technology to Mr. Norman Cousins, The Saturday Review, New York, New York. In full: "I am writing in part to express to you my personal appreciation for the many fine actions that you have been taking about the great world's problem that must be solved. In particular, I wish to tell you how much I have liked some of the editorials that you have written in The Saturday Review. The editorial in the 15 March issue, entitled 'Dr. Teller and the Spirit of Adventure,' seemed to me to be less effective than others that you have written, and also less effective than the book review by Dr. John M. Fowler in the 22 March issue. I shall mention only one point about your editorial. You say that 'A report for the AEC made public very recently revealed that radioactive strontium in the bones of American adults has increased thirty percent as the result of nuclear tests. The radioactive strontium in the bones of children has increased fifty percent, according to the same report.' I do not know just what you are saying here. Perhaps you mean during one or two years these increases took place. Of course, no American adults and no American children had any radioactive strontium in their bones a few decades ago, so that the increase as the result of nuclear tests is infinite. Also, later on there occurs the sentence, 'At the end of twenty-eight years, the radioactive strontium in the air still retains half its strength.' This would be a satisfactory statement if the words 'in the air' were left out. With these words, it is hard to know what the statement is supposed to mean. I think that your discussion of radium dials of wristwatches is not very good. One should not call this radiation 'the infinitesimal amount.' Also, I doubt that the statement is true that the peril of radioactive fallout is less than that represented by the radiation from the radium dial of a wristwatch. The reference to opening the face of the watch and eating the radium seems to me to be of no significance, and it serves only to confuse the issue. I should like to see your efforts as effective as possible, and I believe that they could be made still more effective if you were to receive good advice about scientific questions. I should, of course, be pleased to have you call upon me at any time. If you would like me to do so, I could give you other examples of statements in your editorial that seem to me to be more or less unsatisfactory. Perhaps I should give you one more example now. You say 'Every particle of radioactive strontium taken into the body is stored by the body...' This statement is not true. Most of the radioactive strontium taken into the body is excreted again, and only a fraction, usually a small fraction, is stored in the body. If Dr. Teller were to reply to your editorial, he could quite properly attack it on the grounds that you make untrue and exaggerated statements about fallout. I note that you repeat this untrue statement near the end of the article, saying 'Every little bit that enters the body is stored...' Let me repeat my offer to you to assist in any way that I can. I have a great deal of experience in the various scientific fields that relate to this question - the biological and medical as well as the physical and chemical. I have read and thought a great deal about these matters, and I know what the pitfalls are. In all of my writings and public statements I have taken great care to avoid exaggeration and to avoid the use of untrue or misleading statements. I know, however, how easy it is to make a statement that turns out not to be quite correct. There is a question that I should like to ask you. On 13 January 1958 I sent to you a news release that I had prepared about the petition by myself and 9234 scientists to the United Nations. This petition is mentioned in the 15 March issue. I have not seen all of the issues of The Saturday Review this year, but I do not remember having seen any earlier mention of the petition. I should be pleased if you could send me tear sheets of earlier mention of the petition in The Saturday Review. I am especially interested in this petition because it was almost entirely the result of my own effort. The job of gathering the signatures was done very largely by me, with the help of a few volunteers, and a secretary whom I employed for the purpose, on a part-time basis. Almost the entire cost of gathering the signatures was borne by me, and, in fact, the total cost was not very great." Three words in Pauling's hand. In 1958, Pauling had published No More War!, which was likely the subject of the book review mentioned in this letter. The book, which discussed the threat of nuclear war and nuclear testing, was part of Pauling's efforts to educate the public on the dangers of nuclear war. As part of his campaign to have disputes settled through international treaties and laws rather than war, Pauling and his wife, Ava Helen Pauling, obtained the signatures of scientists in 49 countries and submitted their anti-nuclear petition to the United Nations. Pauling's stance resulted in Congressional hearings and the loss of some of his funding (it was later not only restored but increased when the funding requests were submitted under the names of his associates). On October 10, 1963, President John F. Kennedy and representatives from Great Britain and the Soviet Union signed the particular test ban treaty that the Paulings had promoted. That same day, Pauling was notified for his selection for the Nobel Peace Prize (for 1962) for his efforts toward world peace. Despite the honor, Pauling felt that his peace activism was not understood or supported by CalTech and he left the University that year. LINUS PAULING (1901-1994), who was known for promoting the curative and restorative powers of Vitamin C, had earlier earned the 1954 Nobel Prize in Chemistry for his research into the nature of chemical bonding and its application to the structure of complex substances. Pauling, who is known as the "founding father of molecular biology" is the only person to receive two unshared Nobel Prizes in two different categories. NORMAN COUSINS (1915-1990) was the Editor of "The Saturday Review" from 1942-1978, increasing its readership from 15,000-650,000. Like Pauling, he was concerned about nuclear testing. Cousins, who had written the editorial, "Modern Man is Obsolete" following Truman's decision to drop the atomic bombs on Japan in August 1945, made "The Saturday Review" one of the first journals to focus on the impact of modern weapons. He warned the public about the dangers of fall-out (strontium 90, mentioned in this letter) and also co-founded and became a co-chair of the National Committee for a Sane Nuclear Policy (SANE) in 1957, the year before this letter. Cousins, who would receive a number of awards for his peace efforts, also had a connection to Pauling in regard to Vitamin C. In 1964, Cousins reportedly cured himself of an ailment through the power of positive emotions; he watched laughter-provoking films, read humorous books and decided to forego traditional medicines - receiving only large intravenous doses of Vitamin C. He detailed his experience in an article in the 1976 "New England Journal of Medicine" and in the 1979 book, Anatomy of An Illness, one of his 16 works on a variety of topics, including politics, peace and medicine. Lightly creased with folds, light horizontal fold at the loop of "P". Slightly shaded at blank margins. Staple holes at upper left corners. Pinhead-size stains at lower left margin of second page. Overall, fine condition.

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