Linus Pauling – Conversations with History

Linus Pauling – Conversations with History

(perky music) – Welcome to a Conversation with History. I’m Harry Kreisler, of the Institute of International Studies. Our guest today is Nobel
laureate Linus Pauling. Dr. Pauling received the
Nobel Prize in chemistry in 1954, and the Nobel
Peace Prize in 1963. He is visiting the
Berkeley campus this week to deliver the Hitchcock Lectures, and our topic for today’s discussion is the peace movement in
historical perspective. Dr. Pauling, welcome to Berkeley. – Well, thank you. – I wonder if you might for us recall the early days of the peace movement right after the First World
War, of the Second World War. You were a member of
Einstein’s Emergency Committee of Atomic Scientists, one
of the really first efforts. – That’s right, I got interested in world peace, really, in 1945. I had been working during
the Second World War, for a little while earlier than that, a year or two earlier, on war projects. I still was professor
chairman of the division of chemistry and chemical engineering in the California Institute of Technology, but I had about 20 contracts with the Office of Scientific
Research and Development. Oppenheimer asked me to come to Los Alamos as the head of the chemistry section of the atomic bomb project,
and I decided not to do it. I had so much going on in Pasadena, including continuing teaching chemistry and this large amount for our work. When the atomic bombs
were dropped, exploded over Hiroshima and Nagasaki in 1945, I was very soon asked
by some service club, Rotary Club in Hollywood, to talk about nuclear fission, about the
nature of these weapons. I was able to do so because
I had not been connected with the Atomic Energy Project and had no classified
information about these weapons. So I began giving talks to, popular talks to groups of that sort, which
were purely educational, descriptive in nature, with
little political content. Rather soon, they began to
involve also an expression of my own ideas, and I don’t
remember just how early it was that I was able
to quote Albert Einstein as saying that now that a
single bomb, atomic bomb can destroy a whole
city, and a single rocket can lob it over, the time has
come when we must give up war, but then I was asked to
join the board of trustees of the Einstein committee,
the Emergency Committee of Atomic Scientists, which consisted only of the board of trustees,
half a dozen scientists. Albert Einstein as chairman, and Harold Urey as vice chairman. So every few months, I went
with my wife to Princeton to a meeting of this board and later on, I took, made, began making lecture tours partially along with Leo Szilard. We would show a film which
the committee had had made, probably the first film
about atomic bombs, explaining what nuclear war
would be, just the little atomic bombs, Hiroshima
and Nagasaki type then. And Leo Szilard would give a
talk, and I would speak too about the necessity to understand what had happened in the world now that the means of
waging war had changed in such an astounding way. – And very early on, you
were advocating against the production of the hydrogen
bomb, even in the late 40s. – Well, tried, I opposed the construction of the hydrogen bomb on the, I think, rather reasonable grounds
that an ordinary atomic bomb could destroy a whole city,
and even the biggest cities, it could do much damage,
perhaps kill a million people out of the 10 million in a large city, and that there was no need to make, to accelerate the arms
race by developing weapons a thousand times more powerful. – How important was
the fact that you were, and had not really been
in government service? Do you think that made
it easier for you to draw some of these conclusions and
to speak publicly about them? – Yes, well of course, I had, in a sense, been in government service in the, I took leave one summer from
the Institute in order to go to the Central Explosives
Research Laboratory. – [Harry] This would
be during the war, or? – During the war, during the war. And I had a large number
of government contracts that I was responsible for,
but I didn’t have classified information about atomic bombs,
and I could talk about them as freely as I wanted, I thought. After my first talk, I
think, the second day after my first talk, an FBI
man turned up in my office and said, “How did you,
who gave you information “about how much plutonium
or uranium-235 there is “in an atomic bomb?” And I said, “Nobody, I figured it out.” (Harry laughing) So, I wasn’t bothered thereafter, but if I had had classified information, we can see that I might
well have been restrained from speaking in public about the need to get control over war the
way that I was speaking. – And over the next decade and a half, both you and your wife were very active in lecturing, in holding conferences and petitioning the government and making known to the public, really, the issues involved in these new weapons? – Yes, that’s right. My wife had been interested
in social, political and economic problems ever
since she was a teenage girl. She used to argue with, in Salem, Oregon, where she was going to high school, with a friend of the
family, one of the judges of the Oregon State Supreme Court, of which my uncle became
a chief justice later on. She didn’t know him until after, look, she did actually know him
before we were married. He was a friend of her family
in Oregon City, Oregon. – But she, I gather, was very supportive and, in fact, would direct
a lot of her speeches to the women’s perspective
on these issues, is that– – Yes, that’s right, and
of course, I have said and I have to say that
I’m sure that if I had not married her, I would not have
had that aspect of my career that I have had, of
working for world peace. It was her influence on me
and her continued support that caused me to continue. In fact, I have said that
during the McCarthy period, when many people, especially scientists who had been following
approximately the same course that I was following, gave up. I continued, because I had to
retain the respect of my wife. – And what drove her? Was it her academic
background, or her kind of humanistic concerns
about the fate of the world? – Well, I think largely,
her humanistic concerns. She had had some training as a chemist, and during the Second World War she worked for a couple of years as
assistant to Professor Haagen-Smit on a war project of
developing guayule rubber. She worked as a chemist, but
her, and she had an interest, general interest, in
science and was very able, very smart, but she was really concerned about human beings, the humanistic concern that she had was very great. – And in the lectures that you both gave, they were very similar to
what we’re seeing today being done by the Physicians
for Social Responsibility on a larger scale, I mean, an exposure of the public to, really,
the horrors of nuclear war in ways that they had never seen. – Yes, but when you say on a larger scale, I’m not even sure of that,
because we gave hundreds of lectures about world peace. And there were other
people too, Norman Cousins giving a great number of lectures. There was great activity
25 years ago in this field. – Right, and one of the petitions that was signed by 52 Nobel Prize winners, the Mainau Document of July 15th, 1955, I noticed there was a
sentence that in the petition we think it is a delusion
if governments believe that they can avoid war for a long time through the fear of these weapons. All nations must come to the decision to renounce force as a
final resort of policy. Was that a criticism of
deterrents of the notion of deterrence that was emerging, or– – Well, it may be that it
was, I wasn’t at Mainau that year, I have gone to
Mainau where their meetings of Nobel laureates from
time, every year, in fact. I wasn’t there, I signed this statement, but I wasn’t involved in writing it. I believe and I continue to believe that the deterrent
effect of nuclear weapons is very important. Here, in 1961, the Soviet Union exploded in the atmosphere
a single three stage nuclear weapon that was a 60 megaton bomb with explosive power equal
to 60 million tons of TNT. That’s 10 times the explosive
power of all of the bombs used in the whole of the Second World War, in this one explosion,
and these bombs exist by the thousands, not so many, I don’t know that there are
any other 60 megaton bombs, because there’s no target worthy of one, but there are 20 megaton bombs, and many one megaton bombs around, roughly equal to the Second
World War in a single bomb. The feeling that I had
and many other people, that the existence of these stockpiles of terribly destructive
weapons that if used would certainly destroy
civilization as we know it and might well wipe out the human race, meant that the great powers
must not get involved in a war with one another. My own feeling, then
and now, is as expressed in the report by the Boston
Group, Philip Morrison and his associates,
and their report called The Price of Defense,
issued about four years ago, is that the nuclear
deterrent should be reduced from its present completely insane level to a somewhat less irrational level. But I think we don’t, we
shouldn’t get rid of it entirely and tempt the great powers to
go back to old fashioned wars with one another, with
conventional weapons and with 20 million people killed in the First World War, 40
million in the Second World War, perhaps 60 million or 80
million in the Third World War fought with conventional weapons. Why take that chance? Well, I believe in the nuclear deterrent, but it’s just got out
of hand, and we continue to waste money on it
instead of stabilizing it. – Were charges made against you that you were for unilateral disarmament? I mean, in a public
debate, there tends to be such a distortion of views
that are so different from the conventional wisdom,
as yours were in the 50s. – Yes, I think that there were some irresponsible statements about me, to the effect that I was working for disarming the United States, that I was taken in by Soviet propaganda and that sort of thing, and, of course, I was speaking out for awhile, contrary to the official opinion. If we had had a dictatorship
in this country, I might well have been
accused of the crime of seditious libel, which is used in dictatorships to suppress criticism. Seditious libel consists
in making statements critical of government policy, that’s sedition in a dictatorship. Well, you know, when I was
awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1963, Life magazine
published an editorial with the heading, A
Weird Insult from Norway, the Norwegian Nobel Committee
awards the Peace Prizes. Well, this, I think that
the writer of this editorial thought that it was insulting
to give the Peace Prize to someone who advocated something that was not the official policy of the United States government. – And indeed, when you
circulated a ’58 petition, which was signed by 2,000
American scientists, and I think 8,000 foreign scientists, from 49 different countries,
there was a government harassment, there was
harassment in the press of you for undertaking this effort, really, and charges of working
for the enemy, really, is that not correct? – Well, to some extent, yes. And I was given, I first announced that 2,000 American scientists
had signed the petition asking for a cessation of the testing of nuclear weapons in the atmosphere where they were liberating
radioactive fallout over the whole world that
would cause defective children to be born and to damage
living people too, living human beings, causing
cancer and other diseases. We asked that the
nations make an agreement to stop the testing of nuclear weapons. At that time, the government policy was not to make this treaty,
it had not yet been decided, but pretty soon it was
decided to make such a treaty. I think that I got a good bit of support, but some criticism also. Here I had written this petition together with Barry Commoner and Ed Condon. Ed Condon is a Berkeley
man who was, at that time, professor of physics in
Washington University, Barry Commoner, professor of biology in Washington University, St. Louis. We circulated the petition. I decided later to, well,
people from foreign countries, scientists from foreign countries, began to send in copies,
signed copies of the petition. So my wife and I circulated
it in foreign countries and ultimately, turned over
15,000 signatures of scientists to the Secretary General Dag Hammarskjold of the United Nations.
– And on another occasion when you were in the
Soviet Union you actually wrote a letter to
Khrushchev which included a draft treaty, which I
gather was very similar to the partial test ban which
was eventually adapted in ’63? – Yes, yes, I didn’t get to
talk with Premier Khrushchev then, there was an
appointment set up for me, and then it was canceled,
and it’s hard to know why things of this sort are done, but in fact, in 1961, which
is when this occurred, my wife and I asked, we were there for a scientific congress,
biochemical congress, but we said we would like to speak at a peace meeting, a public meeting. The Soviet Peace Committee put out posters announcing the meeting and we went to it, in the Hall, the Hall of
the Scientists in Moscow that holds a thousand people. We had a film along, the Peace Movement in Southern California,
showing a demonstration. Two or three thousand
people, perhaps more, marching with banners
and meeting in a park and my speaking to them,
and then my wife talked and then I talked, and I said, “The Soviet Union has just exploded “this 60 megaton bomb, and that, I think, “I estimate will cause a
million children to be born “over a course of generations,
because these gene mutations “last, are passed on, a million children “to be born with gross
physical or mental defect “that would not have
been defective otherwise, “and will cause, perhaps,
just as many people “to develop cancer and other disease, “and I think it’s immoral, unethical “for nations to do this
damage to the human race.” I think that was the last atomic bomb that they exploded, but I’m not sure. At any rate, the bomb
test treaty negotiations were going on and very quickly, next year, the treaty was signed
and it went into effect in October of 1963. – The Nobel Committee, in
awarding you the Peace Prize, pointed out that the language
that President Kennedy used in his speech announcing the signing of the partial test ban was very similar to the language that you
had used in defining, they did, in fact, the
language you just used in describing your speech
in the Soviet Union. – Yes, yeah. – Was this an instance of
power listening to science? – I think so. There was a meeting, a
dinner that President Kennedy and Mrs. Kennedy held for
recipients of the Nobel Prize in the Western Hemisphere
and some of their people. And on the day before, my wife and I, and on the day of the meeting, in fact, had demonstrated outside the White House against the bomb tests. – [Harry] This would’ve been in what year? – In 1961, I think, possibly 1960. We, when we came through
the reception line, Mrs. Kennedy, after
shaking hands with me said, “Do you think it is right, Dr. Pauling, “to march back and forth with your sign “outside the White House?” So that Caroline says to me, “Mommy, “what has Daddy done wrong now?” (Harry laughs) And then she introduced
me to President Kennedy, who said, “Dr. Pauling, I
hope that you will continue “to express your opinions.” And, of course, I think that
it was about at that time that he became convinced
that the atmospheric testing of bomb, nuclear weapons, was
really the wrong thing to do and began applying political pressure to the Senate to approve
the test ban treaty, well, began deciding to
instruct his negotiators to sign the test ban treaty.
– Do you think if he had lived that the
progress on arms control would have been more significant, since he had gone through this process of negotiating this treaty,
and then, of course, he had gone through the
Cuban Missile Crisis. – The Cuban Missile, yes, well, he, I think he had a real
understanding of the significance of nuclear weapons and
a very great concern for his responsibility, and of course, I believe that he admired
Khrushchev for his restraint. They handled that missile crisis well. I think he could understand
that if the United States had weapons, the feeling by Khrushchev and the other Soviet leaders,
that if the United States had rockets armed with nuclear warheads in Turkey and other places
close to the Soviet Union, why shouldn’t the Soviet
Union put them in Cuba? But, of course, it was
the wrong thing to do. It’s good that there was some restraint over the spread of nuclear weapons. – Why has it been so
difficult to bridge this gap between the insights of scientists and the thinking and actions
of our political leaders? Because if you go through this history of the peace movement in the 50s, it’s as if we’re reliving
all of this again today. – That’s right, it looks as though we haven’t learned anything
from recent history of 25 years ago when the hydrogen bomb, the three stage bomb had been developed. The weapons became, the
individual bombs, warheads, became a thousand times more powerful than the Hiroshima-Nagasaki bombs. 10 or 20,000 times more powerful than the one ton
blockbusters with which most of the bombings were done
in the Second World War. The stockpiles had already
become irrationally great 25 years ago, the analysts all talked about a 10,000 megaton
attack on the United States and a 10,000 megaton
counterattack on the Soviet Union and were making estimates
about, perhaps 80% of the people would be dead 60 days after the attack. So that the situation now
is we still talk about 10,000 megaton attacks, it
hasn’t changed very much in that respect, the need
for detente was clear, and of course, we went through
a period of a number of years when the relationship was better, but there was still, there
were still changes being made in the development of nuclear weapons. Usually, with the United
States taking the lead, just as we had a five year lead initially on building atomic bombs. We introduced the idea of, well, the anti-ballistic
missile, this development along these lines was stopped by a treaty. That was one case where
a good treaty was made between the United States
and the Soviet Union. The idea of MIRV, multiple independently directable re-entry vehicles
with nuclear warheads so that a single big
rocket, instead of carrying a 20 megaton bomb that
would essentially destroy Moscow or any other city,
could be made more effective because there aren’t
many 20 megaton targets. Instead, it could carry,
perhaps 16 small rockets, each with its own one megaton bomb, 20 or 25 times as big as a
Hiroshima or Nagasaki bomb, big enough for most
cities, and with computers and programmed in such a way
that 16 different targets could be destroyed, and a few years later, the Soviet Union also, they
haven’t quite caught up with us on MIRVing their big rockets, but they’re well on their way. So, now we have the cruise missile, and I heard Andropov speak. I was in Moscow the 21st of
December, three weeks ago, when a month, nearly a month ago when Andropov gave his
talk in which he said that they were willing to cut
down on intermediate range missiles to the number that the West had, Britain, France, the United States, and would continue to cut down if we were willing to cut down. But he went on to become very tough then, I suppose he has to,
under the circumstances, with a tough opponent
in the United States, and he said that they
were well on their way toward completing the development of their own cruise
missile, if we went ahead with our 7,000 cruise missiles. Very dangerous business, they would soon have an equal number. – So the race has gone on.
– And they’re going to– – And it–
– Yes, he said they would keep up with us, of course, Reagan, President Reagan
says we’ll keep ahead of the Soviet Union. What is going to happen
if these two great nations are not able to get enough
sense to stop this waste of money and this increasing of the danger of a nuclear war breaking out? As these weapons become
and the delivery vehicles, the whole system, become
more and more complicated, the chance that there
will be a technological or psychological accident that initiates the catastrophic interchange
of these terribly destructive weapons becomes greater and greater, so that we get in more and more danger that a nuclear war will break out. When the world is destroyed,
it’ll be by accident, not by design, not by this direct decision of Reagan or Andropov, but by accident. – Why then have the politicians, the political leaders on both sides failed to heed the warnings
about these dangers? When one goes through this history or reads your very good book, No More War, published in 1958, you
find that the issues have been on the table since
early times in this new era. – The arguments in my book
are essentially the same. I talked about a 20,000 megaton bomb war, 20,000 megaton war, 10,000
from each side there, and that’s what we still talk about, and the other dangers and
the need for making the world a safer place, the arguments
are still just as good 25 years after this book was published. And why haven’t we got control? Well, the Soviet Union, first, the people and the government fear war,
they don’t want to have a war. They are afraid, also, of
attack by the Western powers. They are afraid of the
anti-communism that we know exists, upon the express statement that we are out to destroy communism. And they are more afraid than we are, because they know what war is. There were 50 times as many
people in the Soviet Union killed in the Second
World War as Americans killed in the Second World War. They experienced the destruction
of their own country. So, I think that they
feel that they have to try to keep up with the United States and not tempt our militarists. Now, our position has
been made pretty clear, year after year, or decade
after decade from 30 years ago, that our gross national product is twice that of the Soviet Union. We fear communism, that communism
will take over the world. Well, as Khrushchev said,
“They say communism is so good “a system that it’s
inevitable that it take over.” And we don’t agree with
that, so we fear communism and think that we must
prevent the takeover. Our, we are twice as
affluent as the Soviet Union, have twice the gross national
product of the Soviet Union. The burden of militarism,
even if it were great for us would be twice as great for them. President Reagan issued, a few months ago, a national security directive that repeats the statement that we must
apply economic pressure, military pressure, diplomatic pressure, propagandistic pressure
on the Soviet Union with the hope of eliminating
it from the world. In fact, he said to the,
in June, I think it was, he spoke to the British
Parliament in London and said that by applying this pressure, we, ultimately shall achieve the goal of leaving Marxism, Leninism on the ash heap of history. I’m quoting President Reagan. So we have a goal, that
of applying pressure by increasing military expenditures until finally they become
intolerable for the Soviet Union. I read one statement by a commentator back in Connecticut who said, “President Reagan’s plan, that by spending “our spending 1.6 trillion dollars “on militarism in the next five years, “to bankrupt the Soviet Union,
already in its first year “has come close, has
brought the United States “to the verge of bankruptcy,
not only economically, “but also morally and spiritually.” – So that what the
politicians didn’t learn from the scientists was
to go beyond this notion that victory is still possible, is that what you’re suggesting? I mean, that they believe
that by building up nuclear weapons they can,
not necessarily have to go to nuclear war, but will be in a position to keep the other party down, and then, by simultaneously
applying economic screws, possibly even break the system, so that the politicians
haven’t really gotten over these old ways of thinking that Einstein and others warned, they really
would have to move beyond. – That’s right, they haven’t recognized that this is just too
dangerous a policy to follow, And I am sure that President Reagan and his advisors do not anticipate that there will be a nuclear war. I’m sure that they don’t
believe the statement that they made last year,
that we might carry on a militant nuclear war in Europe and still not destroy the world. I’m sure they don’t believe that. That was just propaganda
to get the American people to accept the whole idea of
continuing the military buildup and the increase in the
military budget at the same time that we are having trouble
with the parts of the budget that relate to the wellbeing
of the American people. This is just propaganda, they don’t think that we can have, I have said that well, perhaps limited war in
Europe would be all right, it wouldn’t get any objection
because the Soviet Union wouldn’t be harmed,
they wouldn’t complain, we wouldn’t be harmed,
we wouldn’t complain, the European nations wouldn’t complain because they wouldn’t exist any longer. Well, of course, the fact
is that even a limited war with the radioactive fallout,
to the dust thrown up in the air that might prevent
the sun shining through for a long time, smoke
from the forest fires that might hinder the growth of plant life on the surface of the
earth, all over the earth for months or years, and
the radioactive fallout spread all over the world, the carbon-14 that has a half life of 5,070 years, and continues to damage human beings would continue if they existed for tens of thousands of years. These events, even in
a limited nuclear war involving, say, only a thousand
times or a hundred times the explosive power of
the Second World War, might well mean the end of the human race. So, we need to have a change in thinking that Einstein talked about. – And why, I still want to understand why this hasn’t come about. In other words, did
these efforts of the 50s and early 60s fail to win
the bulk of public opinion in this country, I mean,
did the issue sort of recede into the background and
more immediate issues like the Vietnam War,
for example, and so on, because when you go through this material, from the period when you
were so actively involved, so much of it resonates
with what we’re hearing now and in some ways, it’s bothersome that it’s as if we haven’t
learned the lessons that were very clear
from the very beginning. – You know, statements,
we were making statements of this sort, especially,
when the stockpiles of nuclear weapons got up to 600 megatons, a hundred times, this was very early, a hundred times the Second World War, and it seemed that it
already was irrational to have such destructive power. Then they got to 6,000,
perhaps even to 60,000. Estimates now are usually around 30,000 as the total stockpiles,
but that order of magnitude. It was really, as Philip
Morrison said, insane for the human race to have developed the powers of self destruction
to this level, and why? Well, back 25 years ago, 20 years ago, the bomb test treaty went into effect. This was in the period, looked as though there was some sanity
coming into the situation. There was a period of detente and then, of course, the decision was made to contain communism by participating in the war in Korea, and then in Vietnam. Not very successful efforts
to contain communism, and the wrong kind, I think. How much money we waste on
militarism in the world, something like 600 billion dollars a year, equal to the total
income of more than half of the people in the world. A terrible waste, think
of what good could be done if we were not to expend so much money. There are great problems
to be solved in the world, to be attacked, the
problem of overpopulation, the problem just of feeding people is going to be more and more serious when encroachment on the environment, possible catastrophe from
damage to the ozone layer and so on, and we aren’t
cooperating in solving them. The United States and the Soviet Union, even if they were to be cooperating in solving these problems,
would have and will have in the future, a pretty difficult time, and when they are fighting each other in the ways that they are, wasting money on militarism, senseless militarism, there’s not much chance of
solving these other problems. I’m asked from time to time, am I hopeful? And I say, I am, I
believe that we are going to get through this difficult
period that we are in, that rationality will
come into the conduct of world affairs and I have evidence. If I weren’t hopeful, why
should I be spending my time going around, making television interviews and giving talks, popular
talks and traveling around, working for world peace, if
I didn’t think we’d succeed, I might as well be enjoying myself, reading the physical
and chemical literature and trying to solve some
of the interesting problems about nuclear structure
and molecular structure and even about the vitamins
and their interaction with the human body and
trying to find some way of decreasing the amount of
suffering caused by disease. So I believe that we are
going to be successful. The fact that I believed 25 years ago that we were going to be
successful rather soon doesn’t keep me from believing now that we are going to be successful. And the fact that there hasn’t been a war between the United States
and the Soviet Union in the 25 years, leads me to believe that the nuclear deterrent
really does work, it does work, it’s insanely
high, overdeveloped, but it works, and the danger
is that it will cease to work because of some accident, and
that this would be the result of our poor sense in
continuing to make the system more and more complicated
instead of trying to simplify it and getting it under control. – In your book, No More
War, you discuss how science had become the handmaiden of war. Really helped to think about war, to define new instruments of warfare, and to define new strategies, and you propose, in that book, that science more and more
become a handmaiden of peace, really, that an international
research organization for peace studies, that would deal with many of the problems
you just discussed, should be instituted and so on. I wonder if you might reflect on that now. As you probably know, the
University of California is going through a process now, of evaluating what it should be doing in the realm of peace studies and so on, and I wondered if you
would share your thoughts with us on that issue. – Well, there are a number of
rather small peace research institutes and institutions
that have been set up. Some contribute very little,
like the Hoover Institution on War and Peace at Stanford that doesn’t pay much attention to world peace, it seems to me, or the United States
government’s disarmament and, I’ve forgotten the rest of it. – The Arms Control Disarmament Agency. – [Both] Arms Control
and Disarmament Agency. – It seems to me to contribute little directly to world peace. My idea on it, this could
be a government function, may not be a very reasonable one. It may be better to get it as far as possible away from governments. I envisage the large
place where there would be essentially, like a great university, a very great university,
where the staff members would be interested in world peace, and would devote part of
their time to striving to solve the problem of
eliminating war from the world and planning out a better world and that they would also
be productive scholars, working on problems,
perhaps basic problems in fields of science, or
problems of applied science that would help in the
question of overpopulation or damage to the environment
and all the others. Some of them, sort of, futurists
trying to plan the future. I think it would be fine if
the University of California, I think Harvard has a rather small group that might be described in this way, that would be fine if there were a large and effective group in the
University of California. Here we have a university that I have, from time to time, ever since 1945, ’48, when I was Eastman Professor at Oxford, described as the greatest
university in the world, and I still think of it in this sense. The University of
California needs to continue to lead the world, and what we need more than anything else is to
lead the world toward peace. – Do you feel that science
in this postwar period has been corrupted by its
relationship to the government and its relation to weapons programs? – No, I don’t think so. There’s misuse of science, in my opinion, all this weaponry stuff
is a misuse of science. Individual scientists have been tempted into working for the
government, working on weapons, either directly or indirectly. I’ve seen the statement that
half of American scientists are involved in one way or another. – [Harry] Yes, I saw
that the other day, yeah. – Yes, well, it would be
better if most of them were working for the
welfare of human beings in one way or another,
and there’s plenty of work to be done, we haven’t
exhausted the problems, the scientific problems. Individual scientists, I
have said that I don’t think that the scientists could get together, all of them, and decide that
they would not work on weapons, that they would not
work for the government. This would mean that we were instituting an oligarchy of scientists. I think that the country, the world, should be run by the people as a whole, not by any small group, not
by an oligarchy of scientists. – What about the problem of
science in the Soviet Union and the problem of science
and peace movements in the Soviet Union. I wonder if you would share
your thoughts with us. One can compare, for example, your career and your harassment by the government here with the situation of a
Sakharov, for example, or with the suppression, recently, of a burgeoning peace movement there. I wonder if you would share
with us your views on that? – Well, I was harassed, of
course, in a less blatant way when my passport was refused at the time that the Royal Society of London had arranged a conference of scientists, a two day symposium on the alpha helix and the pleated sheets, on
my idea, so I was to speak. – [Harry] Very directly
related to national security – I was the first speaker,
and the second speaker was my associate, Professor Corey, and then there were talks from people from many countries
over the next two days. I wasn’t there, because my
passport was withheld from me on the grounds, so far,
the statement was made that not in the best interests
of the United States, also a statement that my
anti-communist statements hadn’t been strong enough,
so I didn’t get to go, to see the X-ray photographs
taken by Rosalind Franklin, which I would have seen
if I had gone to London on that occasion, and
others I was prevented from attending, various
scientific congresses, and, of course, I was threatened
by the internal security subcommittee of the
Senate with a year in jail for contempt of Senate,
when I was being harassed by the internal security subcommittee. Well, things aren’t so bad,
I wasn’t treated so badly as Russian scientists are treated. I think of Russia, the first time I went to the United States in 1957, I thought, that this is something
like Oregon in 1907, my early memories as a
boy and youth in Oregon, the simplicity of the people,
the simplicity of the life. And I think the Soviet
Union just lags behind us in the way that it treats
individual human beings, too. We aren’t trying to help them to catch up, we try to hinder them in whatever way we can to catch up with us. When I was invited by the
Supreme Soviet last month to come to the Soviet
Union to help celebrate the 60th anniversary of the
founding of the Soviet Union, and I’m sure I was invited
because I had been given the international Lenin
Peace Prize 10 years after I got the Nobel Peace Prize. When I was invited to come, I got there, and I gave them a list of the
people that I wanted to see, including Sakharov, that
I wanted to talk with. I didn’t get to see Sakharov. I may have if, I had
said I would say 10 days. After six days, I got sort of bored. It was the 23rd of December and I thought of two of my children and their spouses in California, and
grandchildren in California, and I started wanting to get back. I came home four days
early, and gave up on, I didn’t see, didn’t go ahead
with the last of my program. So there’s room for a lot of improvement in the Soviet Union just as there is room for a lot of improvement
in the United States in the human rights issue. An important issue in human
rights, it seems to me, is the basic human right of having a job, contributing to the work of the world, feeling pride that you
are part of the human race and are doing your part
in keeping the human race going, doing work that needs to be done. And yet, here our system
depends on having millions, over 10 million now,
American people, out of work. This is a great violation of human rights, the rights of the individual human beings, so there’s something
wrong with our system, well, there’s a lot wrong
with the Soviet system. In my book, No More War, in 1925, I said that I foresee that with
cooperation between our nations, working to solve the
problems of the world, these systems will change, develop, incorporating into each the
better features of the other, until finally, I hope, we’ll have a world in which each human being
is able to lead a good life. There aren’t many people in the world who lead really good lives now. – One final question, if you look back at your involvement in the peace movement and your experiences in politics, are there any lessons that you learned about things that you
would’ve done differently, or things that you think you did right, that you think show an example for people presently involved in the movement? – Well, one problem that
my wife and I experienced in the peace movement, 25 years ago, in that period, or 30 years ago, is that of difficulty in cooperation. We were not active members
of peace organizations to any very great extent, she
and I worked by ourselves. We arranged, in 1961, an
international conference of 60 scientists from 15 countries in Oslo to discuss the issue of
spread of nuclear weapons. It was a conference against the spread of nuclear weapons, we
got out a good report, giving the reasons for this. And I was pleased that President Kennedy, again, seemed to me to have
cribbed from this report when he gave his speech against the spread of nuclear weapons. We included in this
statement, which was signed by all 60 scientists, a
statement that loyalty to ones’ own nation is not enough. We now need to be loyal to
the human race as a whole. I was afraid, when this
statement was written, that the three people
from the Soviet Union, and perhaps others, two or three others from behind the Iron Curtain,
wouldn’t sign this statement, but they did sign the statement that we need to have loyalty
to the world as a whole. Patriotism is not enough. Well, not only patriotism,
but anti-communism caused trouble in the peace movement. We went to a peace movement in Oxford, where my wife and I represented ourselves. We came under our own
steam, with our own support as we did with many,
most of these activities, such as our supporting the symposium against the spread of nuclear weapons. And representatives of many
organizations came there. The British had invited representatives from the World Peace Council to come. The Americans refused, and they managed to prevent the peace meeting
in Oxford from taking place. We were there, the others were
there, and it was stopped. So, because and there
were other occasions too, where it was said that we must be careful, not join together with
groups that are dominated by communists or by
communist sympathizers. Our policy was that we
would sign statements that expressed what we believed, no matter who else signed the statements. When Senator Hennings of Missouri, held a hearing in which he was checking on the passport office
of the State Department, I was called in to
testify about my passport being withheld, and the
Assistant Secretary of State in charge of passport
affairs was there to testify before the Senate committee. He was asked, “How did it
happen that Professor Pauling “received his passport to
go, in 1954, to Stockholm “to get the Nobel Prize in chemistry? “Did he appeal, was there an appeal?” And the Assistant Secretary of State said, “Well, there was a sort
of self generating appeal.” And here, I’ve just got some documents from the State Department several years after I wrote in under
Freedom of Information Act, a correspondence in which
the State Department officials are discussing
whether it would do more damage to the United States
to refuse to let me go to get my Nobel Prize or
to let me go to get it, and they decided it was better to let me go to get the Nobel Prize. Well, here, the fact that they objected to my traveling abroad
because my anti-communist statements are not strong enough indicates how important this matter of being an anti-communist is. In the peace movement too, here we want to have peace with the Soviet Union, but we don’t want to talk with anyone else who wants to have peace,
so long as we think that he is too friendly
to the Soviet Union, or we don’t want to talk
with the World Peace Council, which is thought to be dominated by the Soviet Peace Committee. We gave our public lecture in
Moscow to a thousand people under the auspices of the
Soviet Peace Committee, but this didn’t mean, well, to go on with Senator
Hennings, Senator Hennings said, “Your suggestion,” speaking
to the Assistant Secretary of State, “that the Paulings, Dr. Pauling, “was following the
Soviet line may be wrong. “Perhaps the Soviets are
following Dr. Pauling’s line.” (Harry laughs) – Dr. Pauling, on that note, and I think that the example of your leadership, it really points to the
way that we can move beyond that particularism,
that nationalism that you’re talking about
toward a universalism. Thank you very much for
sharing your example with us and for the future. Thank you very much for being with us, and thank you very much for joining us – [Announcer] On A
Conversation with History. (perky music)

73 Replies to “Linus Pauling – Conversations with History”

  1. Remarkable!
    He convinced the Soviet and the World to stop nuclear testing in the earth's atmosphere!
    If we are still here; It is because of men like him.

  2. this sir is so impressive…i respect him so much…a man with his culture being, at the same time, so polite and warm – i'd say lovely isn't he ? its unusual to see such a personality..the world misses men like him…

  3. When Gorbatchev offered Reagan mutual total nuclear disarmament, during their meeting in Reykjavik, Reagan backed off and refused. This demonstrates that Reagan was wrong, Pauling right, and that Reagan's policy never had anything to do with peace. Reagan did more evil than all other US presidents combined, except for Bush.

  4. Pauling is still considered one of the three greatest scientists of the 20th century. The others being Richard Feynman and Albert Einstein. What dio you think they all have in common with the other three's? Leonardo, Michelangelo, Raphael? Want more? 3 greatest computer heads today Gates, Jobs, Wozniak. Most greatest leaders of the world 3 greatest musicians who ever lived Bach, Mozart, Beethoven. All these people are left handed from before birth. Medical chemical fact. So much misinfo on this

  5. One of the best interviews of one of the greatest minds and humanitarian princes of peace the world has ever known. Many comments have become the reality of today. . .

  6. Linus Pauling did not bother the Big Money boyz until he advanced the unfied theory of heart disease which stated that disease is not caused by the scary cholesterol bogeyman but by a weakened state of collagen in the arteries brought on by a simple lack of Vit C, Lysine and Proline. Too simple and too inexpensive for the Disease Industry to accept…

  7. @quantumdude was good, can u tell e a lil more about what made dis guy so amazing>good or bad? was he a good scientist o an evil one?

  8. @enolaniaga We all have our faults. Even scientists. He built many of the fundamental concepty of physical chemistry. I guess he's one of the most important scientists of the last 100 years. So fuck you.

  9. He held his cancer at bay for 20 years with Vit C. Only after 90yrs old did he resort to RADIATION, which is what killed him. But you won't find that in MSM reports.

  10. Wow, what a bizarre way to look at it. Here's a more rational, evidence-based way: Pauling outgrew his scientific humility after two Nobels and a career of staggering, unparalleled success in science. When he became seriously ill, he chose to trust his own intuitions and ability over the consensus of experts who knew a lot more about cancer than he did (let's not forget the prelude of his stubborn, wrong ideas about DNA). Today the conspiratorial and ignorant embrace him their own hero. Sad.

  11. Interestingly, all the people I have known that have used conventional methods (i.e. radiation and chemotherapy) have died. 27 people in 9 years. I now know 9 people who have used alternative methods and are living – CANCER FREE. And I am meeting more people all the time who are going the alternative route. I used to be a part of the medical establishment, but not anymore.

  12. …and urinate out most of it because that's just how metabolism works, no matter how much of a conspiracy theorist and magical thinker one might be.

  13. No, it's just that alt-med, megavitamin folks make a lot of money off of people's ignorance and they'd prefer you not make the rational observation that Pauling was full of shit about vitamin C.

  14. Well, I think you clearly can extrapolate from the 36 people you know to overturning decades of cancer research done by scientists who are all a hell of a lot smarter than you are. I'm perfectly fine with you taking vitamins or doing nothing or praying or sticking spaghetti up your nose when it's YOUR cancer treatment under consideration. What I sincerely hope for is that you aren't in charge of making medical decisions for anyone else.

  15. Thanks, I will (if I am one of the lucky roughly half who will develop cancer in my life) and my elementary grasp of probability and basic understanding of science assures me that my odds of survival are significantly better with the chemo and radiation than the fucking moron who thinks vitamin C IS A SECRETE PANACEA THAT CURES EVERYTHING BUT THE GUVMINT DON'T WANT YOU TO [email protected]*&U!(*&@!(*&$!

  16. yes, it did worked. But we don't need it anymore as we don't have two superpowers on the verge of having a colossal world war. However this interview is old, that is, pre soviet union break up.

  17. Pauling never said it didn't worked, what he said was this policy bankrupted America as well.
    you're a fucking jackass, listed to the full talk with a little more attention next time.

  18. Looking for a peaceful solution to all of the worlds problems scientificially?
    Check 0ut on Google Truth C0NTEST and click the link The Present

  19. I marched with Dr. Pauling against Vietnam, sat in his lectures in Biochemistry at UCLA and consulted with him concerning my dad's cancer. What is happening in our world when we don't listen to the intelligence of mankind that this man was so exemplary of?
    We are definitely in trouble.

  20. Linus Pauling's great grandson is a friend of mine who lives in Geneva Paris and Northern California fighting for peace in a world without weapons. His family foundations are trying to end violence as well as the use of weapons to create a peaceful world. Linus Pauling's great grandson Linus Pauling Jr. continues the work of his esteemed great grandfather who wanted a world of peace.

  21. Did he actually say:

    Everyone should know that most cancer research is largely a fraud, and that the major cancer research organizations are derelict in their duties to the people who support them

    and where is that source ?

  22. Anyone care to comment on the question the moderator asked "Why has it been so difficult to bridge this gap between the insights of scientists and the thinking and actions of our politicians?"

    Personally, I think this is a terribly important question. You can only have so much internal conflict before you tear yourself apart. We can only allow the smartest people in the world to design our technology for so long, before putting that technology in the hands of the stupidest people results in our destruction.

    My answer in the disparity is that politicians are elected by people whose education on scientific insight is not increasing in tandem with its importance to political decisions. Politicians get power largely be placating ignorant and emotional reactions, scientists get degrees and make discoveries by mechanisms entirely different from popular consent.

  23. Linus was accused of being a heretic. Kind of like these folks:
    Arrhenius (ion chemistry)
    Alfven, Hans (galaxy-scale plasma dynamics)
    Baird, John L. (television camera)
    Bakker, Robert (fast, warm-blooded dinosaurs)
    Bardeen & Brattain (transistor)
    Bretz J Harlen (ice age geology)
    Chandrasekhar, Subrahmanyan (black holes in 1930)
    Chladni, Ernst (meteorites in 1800)
    Crick & Watson (DNA)
    Doppler (optical Doppler effect)
    Folk, Robert L. (existence and importance of nanobacteria)
    Galvani (bioelectricity)
    Harvey, William (circulation of blood, 1628)
    Krebs (ATP energy, Krebs cycle)
    Galileo (supported the Copernican viewpoint)
    Gauss, Karl F. (nonEuclidean geometery)
    Binning/Roher/Gimzewski (scanning-tunneling microscope)
    Goddard, Robert (rocket-powered space ships)
    Goethe (Land color theory)
    Gold, Thomas (deep non-biological petroleum deposits)
    Gold, Thomas (deep mine bacteria)
    Lister, J (sterilizing)
    Lovelock, James (Gaia theory)
    Maiman, T (Laser)
    "Concepts which have proved useful for ordering things easily assume so great an authority over us, that we forget their terrestrial origin and accept them as unalterable facts. They then become labeled as 'conceptual necessities,' etc. The road of scientific progress is frequently blocked for long periods by such errors." – Einstein
    Margulis, Lynn (endosymbiotic organelles)
    Mayer, Julius R. (The Law of Conservation of Energy)
    Marshall, B (ulcers caused by bacteria, helicobacter pylori)
    McClintlock, Barbara (mobile genetic elements, "jumping genes", transposons)
    Newlands, J. (pre-Mendeleev periodic table)
    Nott, J. C. (mosquitos xmit Yellow Fever)
    Nottebohm, F. (neurogenesis: brains can grow neurons)
    Ohm, George S. (Ohm's Law)
    Ovshinsky, Stanford R. (amorphous semiconductor devices)
    Parker, Eugene (existence of a 'solar wind')
    Pasteur, Louis (germ theory of disease)
    Prusiner, Stanley (existence of prions, 1982)
    Rous, Peyton (viruses cause cancer)
    Semmelweis, I. (surgeons wash hands, puerperal fever )
    Shechtman, Dan (quasicrystals)
    Steen-McIntyre, Virginia (southwest US indians villiage , 300,000BC)
    Tesla, Nikola (Earth electrical resonance, "Schumann" resonance)
    Tesla, Nikola (brushless AC motor)
    J H van't Hoff (molecules are 3D)
    Warren, Warren S (flaw in MRI theory)
    Wegener, Alfred (continental drift)
    Wright, Wilbur & Orville (flying machines)
    Zwicky, Fritz (existence of dark matter, 1933)
    Zweig, George (quark theory)
    "Men show their character in nothing more clearly than by what they think laughable." -J. W. Goethe

    Some ridiculed ideas which had no single supporter:
    Ball lightning (lacking a theory, it was long dismissed as retinal afterimages)
    Catastrophism (ridicule of rapid Earth changes, asteroid mass extinctions)
    Child abuse (before 1950, doctors were mystified by "spontaneous" childhood bruising)
    Cooperation or altruism between animals (versus Evolution's required competition)
    Instantaneous meteor noises (evidence rejected because sound should be delayed by distance)
    Mind-body connection (psychoneuroimmunology, doctors ridiculed any emotional basis for disease)
    Perceptrons (later vindicated as Neural Networks)
    Permanent magnet levitation ("Levitron" shouldn't have worked)
    "The mind likes a strange idea as little as the body likes a strange protein and resists it with similar energy. It would not perhaps be too fanciful to say that a new idea is the most quickly acting antigen known to science. If we watch ourselves honestly we shall often find that we have begun to argue against a new idea even before it has been completely stated." – Wilfred Trotter, 1941

    "The study of history is a powerful antidote to contemporary arrogance. It is humbling to discover how many of our glib assumptions, which seem to us novel and plausible, have been tested before, not once but many times and in innumerable guises; and discovered to be, at great human cost, wholly false." -Paul Johnson

  24. At around the 8 minute mark he really touched me with his words about his wife "….. i had to retain the respect of my wife…"

  25. Mr. Linus Pauling was my great grandfather. He belonged to my fathers side, and im not kidding. I have his genetics, im smart. And i've always been interested in studying nuclear weapons.

  26. Even great men and intelligent men can be wrong. His claims on vitamins are unfounded and actually debunked in studies….

  27. Linus: I take about 15,000mg of vitamin C per day

    Medical Community: you can't do that, that's incredibly dangerous

    Linus (20 years later at 90 years old): now I take about 20,000mg of vitamin C per day

    Medical Community: uh… that's dangerous?

  28. I met him in 1978, my first year at Montana State U, when he came to give a lecture about ascorbic acid; he was very gracious.

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