Two centuries later, the spirit of Louis Pasteur still contagious


Lyes Pasteur will be 200 years old on December 27th. Even if he rests, since the end of 1896, in the neo-Byzantine crypt arranged in his honor under the institute which bears his name, the repercussions of his work continue to resonate.

Of course, everyone knows the one who, with more than two thousand routes to his name, is one of our most famous scientists. He is the inventor of the vaccine against rabies, the success of which led in 1887 to the creation of the Institut Pasteur in order to cope with the influx of requests for vaccinations, to train, and to continue research on infectious diseases. .

Pasteur is also a curious journey at the crossroads of disciplines. A chemist and physicist by training, he became one of the first microbiologists, intrigued by the processes of conversion of matter specific to living beings during fermentation. This interest leads him towards the study of the germs which are responsible for it, and which are not yet called microbes. In addition to the development of the industrial process of pasteurization, he provides empirical evidence refuting the hypothesis of spontaneous generation: micro-organisms do not arise from nothing, but are transmitted by a source of contamination. This conclusion also applies to the case of infectious diseases; the study of pathogenic agents and the means of preventing them therefore occupied the last part of his career.

Pivotal moment in history

Beyond that, Pasteur embodies a pivotal moment in the history of science; a time when disciplines meet, marry to give birth to others, are fertilized by the expectations of society, generate new concepts and new methods. A time when advances in science and technology are so rapid, and the repercussions of such magnitude, that lifestyles are lastingly changed. A moment of momentum during which Pasteur was obviously not alone: ​​far from the myth of isolated genius, Pasteur was a scientist surrounded by masters, colleagues, correspondents and team members, stimulated by the burning questions of the time, collaborations and rivalries. In this progressive turn of the second half of the 19e century, Pasteur also remains a man of the bourgeoisie of his time, whether for religious, political, patriotic and even ethical questions.

At the initiative of the Institut Pasteur and the Academy of Sciences, the site Pasteur2022.fr lists dozens of events in different regions, as well as articles, books, manuscripts and other curiosities to discover for this 200e anniversary.

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