In 1937, following the death of Arthur Amos Noyes, Linus Pauling was named chairman of the Division of Chemistry at Caltech.
He was just 36 years old. But he was, by then, one of the most dynamic and productive scientists in the world. He had been
made a full professor by Caltech some years before, had become the youngest person ever elected to the National Academy of
Science, oversaw more graduate students and postdoctoral fellows than any other Caltech chemistry faculty member, and had
won generous research grants for his work. A steady flow of important papers streamed from his laboratory.
He traveled often now, teaching one term each academic year at Berkeley, where he now had become a good friend of G. N. Lewis;
teaching a term at MIT, and giving lectures at a variety of schools and programs across the nation.
When he was asked by Cornell University to give a series of lectures, it seemed like just another opportunity to spread the
word about his brand of chemistry. But the annual George Fisher Baker lectures at Cornell were something more prestigious
than the norm. For one thing, each Baker lecture series was edited into a slim book published by Cornell University Press.