Linus Pauling stamp debuts at university
Casey Campbell

Renowned scientist Linus Pauling was "vilified for many, many years by the United States government" for speaking against war and nuclear weapons, said his biographer, Thomas Hager.

"He suffered a lot from the heavy thumb of the government, from their attempts to suppress his opinions," said his son, Linus Pauling Jr.

During critical times in research, the chemist's passport was revoked, his right to travel denied.

How ironic, then, Hager said, that America would now send Pauling's likeness around the globe through the mail.

On Thursday afternoon, the U.S. Postal Service released a 41-cent stamp honoring the two-time Nobel laureate, and held a celebratory event at Oregon State University, Pauling's alma mater. Linus Pauling Jr. and Hager were both present to talk about the scientist.

The event drew about 300 to OSU's Memorial Ballroom, said Shelly Houghtaling, associate director of university events. Many attendees lined up to buy stamps.

Among them were about 15 students from Linus Pauling Middle School in Corvallis, all belonging to a youth mediation group inspired by the scientist-activist.

"This is awesome. I think it's really cool they're finally going to honor Linus Pauling," said seventh-grader Yesenia Herrera.

Seventh-grader Kayla Bucolo bought a souvenir envelope with stamp and a postmark specially designed for the event for $8.

"I'll probably just hang it up and keep it," she said.

Others, such as OSU biochemistry senior Jenna Smith, 22, planned to use the Pauling stamps they purchased. On Thursday, Smith was addressing envelopes to send to her mom and dad, two grandmothers, and her boyfriend's parents.

Smith said she learns about Pauling through her major, and professors always brag about his connection to the university. And the scientist's stamp is better than flowers or something insipid, she said.

Pauling, who graduated in 1922 from what was then Oregon Agricultural College, is the only man to win two unshared Nobel Prizes. He won in chemistry in 1954 for his work on the chemical bond. Pauling received the 1962 Nobel Peace Prize for years of activism against nuclear testing.

Pauling is one of four people honored on the newly issued American Scientists stamps, which come in sheets of 20. The others are biochemist Gerti Cory, astronomer Edwin Hubble and physicist John Bardeen.

A special postmark celebrating Pauling will be available at the Corvallis Post Office for about two months, but it must be requested, said Postmaster John Herrington.

During the event, Steve Lawson, administrative officer for the Linus Pauling Institute, recalled how Science Magazine had ranked Pauling along with Galileo, Newton and Einstein among the greatest scientists ever.

"Einstein called him a genius," he told the crowd.

But Pauling also was charismatic and courageous, Lawson said.

Linus Pauling Jr., 83, plans to travel from Honolulu to Corvallis again when OSU completes the $62.5 million Linus Pauling Science Center.

The center will house the scientists of the Linus Pauling Institute, which recently received $6 million to continue research into promoting health with vitamins and minerals, as well as other researchers, classrooms and labs. OSU also is the home of the Ava and Linus Pauling Papers, which include 500,000 items stored in the Valley Library.

"The way Linus Pauling has taken off at OSU is extremely rewarding," the scientist-activist's son said.

Kyle Odegard covers Oregon State University. He can be contacted at kyle.odegard@lee.net or 758-9523.

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