6th International Conference of European Society of History of Science, Lisbon, Portugal, 4–6 September 2014


Call for Papers for a session


Pauling’s « Nature of chemical bond » in post WWII European chemical curricula


The American chemist Linus Pauling began investigating the forces that

held together atoms to form molecules using quantum physics in a series

of articles published between 1931 and 1933. His quantum mechanical

approach was further developed and later disseminated through his

ground-breaking textbook “The Nature of the Chemical Bond” published in

1939, soon to be followed by a second revised edition in 1940.

Considered a milestone in theoretical chemistry in the late 1940s

already, its circulation in Europe was however hindered by World War II

and the subsequent partition of the Old Continent in two blocks that

added to the natural inertia of scientific curriculum to novelty. As a

consequence, in some places it could take a generation before the

implications of this new approach was fully incorporated into the

scientific and teaching communities.


This session aspires to explore how the appropriation developed, and how

local cultures of chemistry and indigenous teaching policies and

traditions adapted the main principles of Pauling´s quantum approach to

chemical bond to their chemistry curricula at the higher education

level, including continuing education.


To that aim, a survey of the many translations (who, when, where, why

and for whom?) of the “The Nature of the Chemical Bond” may serve as a

starting point for analysis. Likewise, studies of the translations and

uses of Pauling’s textbook “General Chemistry”, the spreading of which

further served to establish the new description of chemical bonding, can

add further knowledge about the spread of Pauling’s ideas. The session

furthermore welcomes analysis of the incorporation of Pauling’s ideas

into textbooks and syllabi, as well and studies of the impact of

personal contacts. Young chemists were indeed sent abroad and became

vectors of the novelty they were eager to put into practise in their own

teaching and research.


We welcome papers presenting case-studies of the various local response

to Pauling’s “Nature of the Chemical Bond” in all European countries,

both those considered as central and peripherical.



If you would like to contribute please send your abstract (250, max. 300

words) to: *[email protected] no later than 31 December*.


Brigitte Van Tiggelen (Mémosciences and Université catholique de

Louvain, Louvain-la-neuve)

Danielle Fauque (GHDSO University Paris Sud, and Club d’histoire de la chimie, SCF, Paris)

Gisela Boeck (Institut für Chemie, Universität Rostock, Rostock)

Annette Lykknes (Programme for Teacher Education (PLU), Norwegian

University of Science and Technology (NTNU), Trondheim)