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Louis Pasteur Biography

Louis Pasteur Biographical Essay

Louis Pasteur was born on December 27, 1822, in Dôle, a small town in France. He grew in a humble family and his father was a tanner. He graduated in 1840 from the College of Arts at Besancon and entered the prestigious Ecole Namale Supervieure, Paris, to work for his doctorate degree. He chose for his studies the then obscure science of crystallography, which was to have a great influence on his career. Pasteur entered the scientific world as a professor of physics at the Lycee of Tournon and started his research on the optical properties of crystals of tartaric acid salts. He found the two forms of this acid which could rotate the plane of polarization of light, one to the right and the other to the left. This was his first important discovery in crystallography, the phenomenon of optical isomers. Paradoxically it incited him to abandon the field. But it won the acclaim of the French Academy and Britain's Royal Society. Thus Pasteur became famous at the age of 26.

Pasteur soon began researching the complexities of bacteriology. The prevalent theory of life at the time was spontaneous generation which states that certain forms of life such as flies, worms, and mice can develop from non-living matter such as mud and decaying fish. Pasteur disproved this theory with a simple experiment. He showed that microorganisms would grow in sterilized broth only if the broth was first exposed to air containing spores, or reproductive cells. His findings led to the development of the cell theory of the origin of living matter which states that all life originates from preexisting living material. In 1849, Pasteur became professor of chemistry at the University of Strasbourg, where he began studying fermentation, a type of chemical breakdown of substances by microbes. He served the rest of his career as Dean of Sciences at the University of Lille. Soon after his arrival at Lille, Pasteur was asked to solve the problems of the local industries, vinegar and silk manufacture. A producer of vinegar from beet juice wanted to know why the product was sometimes spoilt. On examining the juice microscopically, Pasteur observed that the contaminant, amyl alcohol, was optically active. This gave clear evidence that it was produced by a living organism. Pasteur then proposed a biological interpretation of the process of fermentation. He demonstrated that when no contamination by living...

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Category:   Scientists

Length:   5 pages (1,202 words)

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