Louis Pasteur was an example of a truly gifted person who made many wildly diverse discoveries in many different areas of science. He was a world-renowned French chemist and biologist whose work paved the way for branches of science and medicine such as stereochemistry, microbiology, virology, immunology, and molecular biology. He also proved the germ theory of disease, invented the process of pasteurization, fermentation, and developed vaccines for many diseases, including rabies.
Pasteur was born on December 27, 1822 in Dole, France, and grew up in the small town of Arbois. As a young boy, Pasteur showed no particular interest in science. His talents were mainly drawing and painting. At age thirteen, he could draw remarkable pictures of his sisters, mother, and the river that ran by his home. During his youth, he developed an ambition to become a teacher. While still in his teens, he went to Paris to study in a famous school called Lyce St. Louis. During his studies to become a teacher, he was fascinated by a chemistry professor, Monsieur Jean-Baptist Dumas. He wrote home excitedly about these lectures, and decided that he wanted to learn to teach chemistry and physics, just like his favorite professor.
In 1847 he earned a doctorate at the Ecole Normale in Paris, with a focus on both physics and chemistry. Becoming an assistant to one of his teachers, he began research that led to a significant discovery. He found that a beam of polarized light was rotated to either the right or the left as it passed through a pure solution of naturally produced organic nutrients, whereas when polarized light was passed through a solution of artificially synthesized organic nutrients, no rotation took place. If bacteria or other microorganisms were placed in the latter solution, then after a while it would also rotate light to the right or left. From this, he concluded that organic molecules exist in one of two forms, "left-handed'; or "right-handed'; forms.
After spending several years researching and teaching at Dijon and Strasbourg, Pasteur moved in 1854 to the University of Lille, where he became the professor of chemistry and dean of the faculty of sciences. There, a main focus of research was on the manufacture of alcoholic beverages. Pasteur immediately began researching the process of fermentation. He was able to demonst...
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...s one of the most important centers in the world for the study of infectious diseases and other subjects related to microorganisms, including molecular genetics. By the time of his death in Saint-Cloud on September 28, 1895, Pasteur had long since become a national hero and has been honored in many ways. Over the years, he was awarded many awards, including the Cross of the Legion of Honor, the Grand Prix medal, the Grand Cordon of the Legion of Honor, and many other awards.
The life of Louis Pasteur is a perfect example of triumph over tragedy, and perseverance. After Pasteur married Marie Laurent in 1849, they had five children. Sadly, three of his children died before they reached 13 years of age. During his lifetime, Pasteur also suffered from two strokes, and one of them paralyzed his entire left side. None of these things, however, kept him from working, and none of his adversities kept him from wanting to help others. He was not only an example of an excellent scientist, but also an excellent example of a person who would not give up, no matter what happened. He once said, "Let me tell you the secret that has led me to the goal. My only strength resides in my tenacity."
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