Adventure Safaris

Pasteur Institute

By John Nuckols

Louis Pasteur is considered the founder of microbiology and a chief contributor to modern medicine. Louis was a chemist; and even though he had no medical degree, he made a major impact on saving lives through his work with microbes (tiny organisms).

Louis was born in 1822 in Dole, France and grew up in Arbois. His early teachers thought that Louis was not fit for advanced studies, and they felt he should carry on the work of his father as a tanner of leather. One teacher realized that Pasteur was bright and found he was slow yet methodical and persistent. He was also a good artist.

Eventually Louis was schooled in Paris by some of the best teachers. He soon became a professor at different schools and took on various research projects. Throughout his life one major discovery led to the next discovery in a natural progression of research.

Organic Crystals: Pasteur found that asymmetrical molecules are the product of life forces. This led to the creation of a new science--stereochemistry.

Fermentation: Louis studied how fermentation of alcohol takes place and why some wines became ruined by certain microbes.

Spontaneous Generation: Even though it was controversial, Louis took on the question of whether spontaneous generation (life from nonlife) or biogenesis (life comes from life) was true. Louis decided to repeat the experiments of Redi and Spellanzani and create his own to answer objections of critics. When he was asked if he believed in evolution, he said, “no.”

His studies showed that life only comes from life and that life comes from parents similar to themselves.

Pasteur questioned the theory of evolution, because Darwin did not base his ideas on experimental proof. Louis said, “Do not put forward anything that you cannot prove by experimentation.” Louis Pasteur used the experimental method which was:

1.) state the question
2.) think of a test for the question
3.) observe what happens
4.) make conclusions.

Pasteurization: Louis discovered that heating foods such as wine, beer or milk to 135 degrees F. destroyed the dangerous microbes without ruining the flavor.

He studied why the silkworms in France were affected by diseases and how they were transmitted. This led to the basic rules of sterilization which revolutionized medicine.

Contagious Diseases: Louis discovered three bacteria: staphylococcus, streptococcus and pneumococcus. He developed vaccines against chicken cholera, anthrax, swine erysipelas, and rabies.

His rabies treatment was tested on a man in 1885 for the first time.

Pasteur died in 1895 and is considered to be one of the greatest scientists of all time. Rene Vallery Radot, Pasteur's son-in-law said that absolute faith in God and in eternity were feelings which filled Louis Pasteur's whole life.

“The virtues of the gospel were very present to him. He came to his Christian faith simply and naturally for spiritual help in the last stages of his life.”( Quote from The Sower Series biography of Louis Pasteur by John Hudson Tiner)

For a whimsical look at what might have been (through the eyes of cartoonist Daniel Nuckols) click HERE.

[For a printer-friendly version click here.]

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