Today we have computers to run mathematical equations as complex as the wave functions Pauling was trying to solve in 1928.
In precomputer days it was almost impossible. Like every theoretician working to apply wave mechanics to complex systems,
Pauling was forced to find shortcuts, to make assumptions and approximations, to simplify the mathematics.
He was not the only one facing the problem. The same mathematical complexity was stalling London and others interested in
the field. The difference with Pauling was that he was confident enough that the mathematics would fall into place to publish
his preliminary thought, thus ensuring scientific priority. He then set his graduate student, Sturdivant, an able mathematician
in his own right, to work on the tetrahedral-wave-function problem. When Sturdivant got nowhere after weeks of work, Pauling,
now on to other problems set the carbon problem aside.
Click images to enlarge
Portrait of J. Holmes Sturdivant, 1948.
"Memorial Message -- James Holmes Sturdivant." February 19, 1975.
"[P.W.] Bridgman . . . would say that a question that does not have operational significance, that does not lead to an experiment
of some sort, or an observation, it's significant. I never have been bothered by the detailed or penetrating discussions about
interpretation of quantum mechanics."
March 27, 1964