Foundations of Physics

, Volume 22, Issue 6, pp 829–838 | Cite as

The value of rough quantum mechanical calculations

  • Linus Pauling
Part II. Invited Papers Dedicated To Henry Margenau


During a few years beginning in 1927 rough quantum mechanical calculations of the energy of the ground states with simple wave functions based upon certain models were made for H 2 + , H2, and He 2 + . These calculations provided much insight into the nature of the chemical bond, a concept formulated empirically in the 19th century, and of the chemists' classical valence-bond theory, also formulated in the 19th century. Moreover, ideas suggested by the rough calculations permitted the valence-bond theory to be greatly refined and made more powerful. Extensive knowledge about the properties of atomic nuclei was obtained only after quantum mechanics had been discovered. Nuclear physicists have for the most part striven to carry out very accurate quantum mechanical calculations of nuclear properties, with results that are often in excellent agreement with experiment. I suggest that rough calculations based on simple models might give additional insight and suggest new experiments.


Wave Function 19th Century Simple Model Quantum Mechanic Chemical Bond 
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  1. 1.
    L. Pauling,Z. Phys. 48, 344 (1926).Google Scholar
  2. 2.
    References are given in L. Pauling and E. B. Wilson, Jr.,Introduction to Quantum Mechanics (McGraw-Hill, New York, 1935), and L. Pauling,The Nature of the Chemical Bond (Cornell University Press, Ithaca, New York, 1960), 3rd edn.Google Scholar
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    W. D. Harkins,J. Am. Chem. Soc. 42, 1956 (1920).Google Scholar
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    L. Pauling,Science 150, 297 (1965).Google Scholar
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    R. K. Nesbet,Phys. Rev. 100, 228 (1955).Google Scholar
  6. 6.
    L. Pauling,Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. USA 88, 820 (1991).Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Plenum Publishing Corporation 1992

Authors and Affiliations

  • Linus Pauling
    • 1
  1. 1.Linus Pauling Institute of Science and MedicinePalo Alto

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