Louis Pasteur: A National Hero Essay

1025 words - 4 pages

Louis Pasteur, one of the greatest benefactors of humanity was the first person to see that bacteria cause diseases. He was a scientist who associated an animal disease with a microorganism. Pasteur solved the mysteries of rabies, anthrax, chicken cholera, and silkworm diseases. He is also contributed to the development of the first vaccine. He described the basis of fermentation, wine-making using pasteurization and brewing of beer. Pasteur’s work gave way to many branches of science, making him responsible for some of the most theoretical concepts and practical applications of modern day science. Before his discoveries, many had believed in the widely accepted myth of spontaneous generation. Pasteur founded microbiology and made known that spontaneous generation doesn’t exist by proving that most infectious diseases are caused by micro-organisms. This became known as the “germ theory” of diseases. His discovery of the vaccine for rabies led to the founding of the Pasteur Institute in Paris in 1888.
Louis Pasteur was born on December 27, 1822, in the town of Dole in Eastern France. His parents were peasants; his father was a tanner by trade. He spent the early days of his life in the town of Arbois, where he attended school and where he didn’t do very well, and preferring to go fishing instead. His headmaster, sensing that Pasteur had potential encouraged him to go to Paris to study. At the age of fifteen he set off to Paris, but because he was homesick, his father brought him back home. He continued to study in his hometown until he was ready to go back. He succeeded and went on to study at the Ecole Normale Superieure. In 1847 he was given his doctorate and became a teacher’s assistant. In 1849 he was made professor of physics in the University of Strasbourg. That same year he married Marie Laurent, who happened to be the daughter of the rector of the university- “a noble woman who throughout his life was his patient and devoted companion and helpmate, his assistant, his advisor, his inspiration” (Thayer and Valléry-Radot). In 1854 he moved to the University of Lille, where he was became a chemistry professor.
In 1854 Pasteur began to study fermentation, which is yeast convert sugar to alcohol in the absence of air. The growth of yeasts in association with fermentation dates back to the days of Leeuwenhoek. There were many concerns of applying science to the problems of the production of alcoholic beverages. This use of fermentation enabled Pasteur to identify that the changes brought about when beer or wince ferments, milk turns sour or meat decays, occur when special micro-organisms are present. With these discoveries, he was asked to help the local breweries where the beer had turned bad. This souring of wine and beer was a major economic problem in France. Pasteur made his discoveries by looking at some droplets of bad beer through a microscope and observed that the beer contained small rod shaped bacteria, which is usually the...

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