Pauling cared deeply about teaching, enjoyed it, and wanted to make it come alive for students. He believed a chemical education
should start with a sense of wonder. "I know of no chemist who was attracted to this field because of theoretical chemistry,"
he wrote his superiors at Caltech. "Instead, it is an interest in chemicals and their reactions which first attracted the
chemist." In his own lectures he used chemical props and tricks like a magician, showing students how chemistry worked rather
than telling them. He proposed giving students drawings of molecules "as we now picture them" to give them a concrete feel
for what they were studying. Such molecular drawings, now common in most chemistry textbooks, had not been used before.
And he was a great lecturer, a "bouncy young extrovert," as one student described Pauling in the mid-1930s, "wholly informal
in dress and appearance. He bounded into the room, already crowded with students eager to see the Great Man, spread himself
over the seminar table next to the blackboard and, running his hand through an unruly shock of hair, gestured to the students
to come closer. . . The talk started with Pauling leaping off the table and rapidly writing a list of five topics on which
he could speak singly or all together. He described each in a few pithy sentences, including racy impressions of the workers
More important than his lecturing style was Pauling’s vision of a new chemistry built on a new foundation of quantum mechanics.
Pauling had learned chemistry as a relatively loose aggregate of procedures and observations; now, he thought, it could be
taught as a unified science with a firm and consistent underlying theory. His own ideas about the chemical bond could be used
to explain a wide variety of phenomena, from thermodynamics to crystal structures, from organic to inorganic chemistry, providing
a new level of order and sense. He began organizing his classes around these basic themes.
The result would be one of the most influential books in the history of science.