Childhood, Schools, Universities, and Degrees
My name is Louis Pasteur. I was born on December the 27th, 1882 in Dole, Eastern France. When I was a child, I moved with my family to Arbois where I attended school. My early interest was art. At the age of 16, I was thinking about becoming a full-time artist, but I did not pursue this dream. In 1839 I received a Bachelor of Arts and Bachelor of Science degrees from the Royal College at Besancon. In 1845, I received a Master of Science and in 1847 I received my Doctor of Science. Both degrees where from Ecole Normal Superieure. I was never an outstanding student and I was always marked ‘mediocre’.
Research & Family
In 1848 my work on crystals was the beginning of stereochemistry, the study of the arrangement of various elements in a substance and how this arrangement affects the substance’s chemical behavior. One year later I got married to Marie Laurent and we had five children. Two of my daughters died because of typhoid fever and another did not survive to adulthood. I was deeply affected by their deaths and this is what led me to the research of human diseases.
Discovering Germ Theory of Disease
In 1854 I had a keen interest in the chemistry of fermentation, the way sugar from juices turns into alcohol. I was made fun of by great scientists but this all stopped when I proved that microbes play a vital part in chemical changes. At that point I found the science of microbiology which in turn paved the way to the germ theory of disease.
In 1863, I was asked by Napoleon III to help the French wine makers. They were losing money, because after fermentation, the wines kept turning sour. I discovered that contaminating microbes in the wine caused this souring and they could be destroyed by heat. This is when I developed pasteurization (the process was named after me). My work on fermentation and pasteurization had enormous benefits to the food and drink industries.
The Stroke and Spontaneous Generation
In 1864, I was concerned with the notion of spontaneous generation, which maintains that life could appear from nonliving matter. My experiments proved that “clean air” contained floating microbes. In 1868, at the age of 45, I suffered a stroke that paralyzed the left side of my body. However, this did not stop me from continuing my work.
In 1876, I stopped the Anthrax curse from spreading. In my days, Anthrax affected cattle and the people who worked closely with these animals. I suggested that the spread of Anthrax could be reduced by burning the bodies of the contaminated animals rather than leaving their bodies to rot. I proved that Anthrax bacteria stayed in the soil and was further spread by earthworms and windblown dust for many years.
Immunizations, Chicken Cholera, Rabies and Death
In 1880, I did experiments on chicken cholera. This led to process of vaccination and the lifesaving immunizations of today. The process of immunization you are given a vaccine of weakened germs. You can only suffer very slightly, if at all from the disease. In the meantime your body reacts as though the germs are normal and develops ways of killing these germs. The next time the germs appear they are automatically inactivated, and you are unlikely to catch the disease. This is called immunity. In 1882 I tried to find the microbe which I thought was the cause of rabies, but I could not see it under a microscope. Soon I discovered that the rabies ‘agent’ was also in a victim’s brain and nerves and that it could be weakened by drying the nerve tissue. Three years later, after trying the vaccine on some rabid dogs, I tried it on a nine year old boy and it was successful. I died on September the 28th 1895. My funeral was held at the Palace of Versailles.