Thursday, December 27, 2012


(December 27, 1822 – September 28, 1895)

A tribute to the great man of science , regarded as Father of Microbiology, on his birth anniversary

Louis Pasteur was born on December 27 1822 in Dole in the Jura region of France and grew up in the town of Arbois. His father, Jean Pasteur, was a poorly educated tanner. Louis's aptitude was recognized by his college headmaster, who recommended that the young man apply for the École Normale Supérieure. After serving briefly as professor of physics at Dijon Lycée in 1848, Pasteur became professor of chemistry at Strasbourg University where he met Marie Laurent, daughter of the university's rector in 1849. They were married on May 29, 1849. They had five children, only two of whom survived to adulthood.

Though Pasteur began as a chemist working on the optical properties of tartaric acid and its stereochemistry (1849), his studies on fermentation led him to take interest in microorganisms. He coined the terms ‘microbiology’, as the study of the living organisms of microscopic size and ‘vaccine’. He disapproved the theory of spontaneous generation. This led to understanding of the germ theory of infection, and his method of killing harmful bacteria in liquids by holding them for a time at a given temperature, which is now known as pasteurisation.

He created and tested vaccines for diphtheria, cholera, yellow fever, plague, rabies, anthrax, and tuberculosis. He is regarded as one of the three main founders of microbiology, together with Ferdinand Cohn and Robert Koch. In 1888, in recognition of his achievements, the Pasteur Institute of Paris (Institut Pasteur) was built by public contribution during his lifetime for investigations of infectious diseases and preparation of vaccines. He died in Paris on September 28, 1895. He is buried beneath the Institut Pasteur, a rare honor in France.

Some of the Quotes by and on Pasteur :

I am on the edge of mysteries and the veil is getting thinner and thinner.Letter (December 1851); as quoted in The Great Influenza: The Epic Story of the Deadliest Plague In History (2004) by John M. Barry
Science knows no country, because knowledge belongs to humanity, and is the torch which illuminates the world. Science is the highest personification of the nation because that nation will remain the first which carries the furthest the works of thought and intelligence.As quoted in Louis Pasteur, Free Lance of Science (1960) by René Jules Dubos, Ch. 3 "Pasteur in Action"

I am utterly convinced that Science and Peace will triumph over Ignorance and War, that nations will eventually unite not to destroy but to edify, and that the future will belong to those who have done the most for the sake of suffering humanity.
As quoted in Louis Pasteur, Free Lance of Science (1960) by René Jules Dubos, Ch. 3 "Pasteur in Action"
"To will is a great thing dear sisters, for Action and Work usually follow Will, and almost always Work is accompanied by Success. These three things, Work, Will, Success, fill human existence. Will opens the door to success both brilliant and happy; Work passes these doors, and at the end of the journey Success comes to crown one's efforts."Louis Pasteur wrote this in a letter to his sisters

In the field of observation, chance favours only the prepared mind.Inaugural Address as Professor of Chemistry and Dean of Faculty of Science, Lillie, France (1854). In Hugh Chisholm, The Encyclopædia Britannica Dictionary of Arts, Sciences, Literature and General Information (1911), Vol. 20, 893.

Let me tell you the secret that has led me to my goal. My only strength lies in my tenacity.
Quoted in René Dubos, Louis Pasteur: Freelance of Science (1950). In W.I.B. Beveridge, The Art of Scientific Investigation (1953), 140.

He who proclaims the existence of the Infinite, and none can avoid it — accumulates in that affirmation more of the supernatural than is to be found in all the miracles of all the religions; for the notion of the Infinite presents that double character that forces itself upon us and yet is incomprehensible. When this notion seizes upon our understanding we can but kneel ... I see everywhere the inevitable expression of the Infinite in the world; through it the supernatural is at the bottom of every heart. The idea of God is a form of the idea of the Infinite. As long as the mystery of the infinite weighs on human thought, temples will be erected for the worship of the Infinite, whether God is called Brahma, Allah, Jehovah, or Jesus; and on the pavement of these temples, men will be seen kneeling, prostrated, annihilated by the thought of the Infinite.As quoted by Sir William Osler in his introduction to The Life of Pasteur (1907) by Rene Vallery-Radot, as translated by R .L. Devonshire (1923)