Louis Pasteur Biography
Louis Pasteur, the 19th century biologist and chemist, is best known as the inventor of pasteurization. His work with germs and microorganisms opened up whole new fields of scientific inquiry, aided industries ranging from wine to silk, and made him one of the world’s most celebrated scientists.
Louis Pasteur was born on December 27, 1822 in Dole in the Jura region of France. Pasteur became a professor of chemistry at the University of Lille in 1854 , and soon began studying fermentation in wine and beer. He became convinced that the germs of microscopic organisms abound in the surface of all objects, in the air and in water. He determined that such microorganisms could be killed by heating liquid to 55 degrees Celsius or higher for short periods of time. This simple process became known as pasteurization, a process used today in milk and many other beverages. Pasteur then turned his attention to other aspects of microorganisms.
He found that the disease causing bacteria were introduced from the environment. This was disputed by scientists who believed they could spontaneously generate. In 1864, the French Academy of Sciences accepted Pasteur’s results. Pasteur’s various investigations convinced him of the rightness of the germ theory of disease, which holds that germs attack the body from outside. Many felt that such tiny organisms as germs could not possibly kill larger ones such as humans. He virtually created the science of immunology; showing that certain diseases (like rabies) could be prevented by what he called vaccination: injecting animals with weakened forms of the disease. Pasteur also explained the causes of many diseases – including anthrax, cholera, TB and smallpox – and their prevention by vaccination.
So great were Pasteur’s successes that an international fund was raised to create the Louis Pasteur Institute in 1888. Pasteur worked with the institute until his death, and it continues today as a center of microbiology and immunology. He died on 28th September 1895. He was a national hero and was given a state funeral.