Fredonia Shakespeare Club discusses Louis Pasteur

The Fredonia Shakespeare Club met recently for its 16th regular meeting of the 2013-2014 year, hosted by Mrs. Arthur Walker at her home. Club President Mrs. Robert Woodbury presided at the meeting .

In accordance with the general theme for the year “Creativity & the Spark of Genius”, Mrs. Arthur Walker presented her paper on “Louis Pasteur: Germ Theory, Vaccination, Microbiology and Pasteurization” which she summarized as follows:

The theme for this year “Creativity and the Spark of Genius” certainly applies to Louis Pasteur. Science, research and every new breakthrough in cures and treatments for a variety of diseases from cancer to diabetes to muscular dystrophy are fascinating.

Louis Pasteur was a French chemist and microbiologist who lived from 1822 through 1895. In 1856 the father of one of his students who owned a distillery asked for his help. Something was going wrong with the process and the fermentation was going sour. Pasteur went to the distillery. He found that the fermentation process for which yeast was the agent began to produce tartaric acid, usually obtained from sour milk.

Pasteur was asked to find the cause of sour beer. He experimented and found the presence of yeast in the cultures but also bacteria. Pasteur determined that yeast was responsible for the fermentation process and that bacteria present caused the souring of alcohol. The solution: boil the liquid a few minutes and then add a pure culture of yeast to start the fermentation process.

This was the first time Pasteur stepped outside the classroom to solve a problem.

In the 1800s low quality raw milk was produced. There was no refrigeration at this time. Unhealthy milk killed millions of people. Tuberculosis was commonly carried by milk. Pasteur experimented and discovered heating the milk at 72 degrees c (161.5 ) degrees F for 15 seconds destroyed harmful bacteria and pathogenic microorganisms. The TB pathogen was killed. In 1882 the incidents of TB from milk fell dramatically.

His process of heating the milk to destroy microorganisms was called pasteurization.

Pasteur was extremely intuitive. He thought that if germs were the cause of fermentation, they could just as well be the cause of contagious diseases. Pasteur went on to develop vaccines for anthrax and rabies. He revolutionized the work in infectious diseases. The artificially weakened disease was called a vaccine. He produced the first vaccine for rabies by growing a virus in rabbits and then weakened it by drying the affective nerve tissue. After studying the characteristics of germs and viruses that caused diseases, he found that laboratory manipulations of the infectious agents can be used to immunize people and animals.

Louis Pasteur was one of the greatest benefactors of humanity. He solved the mysteries of rabies, anthrax, chicken cholera, pasteurization and the silkworm disease. He contributed to the development of the first vaccines. His work gave birth to many branches of science and medicine such as: stereochemistry, microbiology, bacteriology, virology, immunology and molecular biology.

He is known for his brilliance of the experimental method. He said “Imagination should give wings to our thoughts.”

The work of Pasteur has protected millions of people from disease through vaccination and pasteurization.

He once said the “the future will belong to those who have done the most for the sake of suffering humanity.”

What drives an individual? Perhaps the death of 3 of his 5 children from typhoid fever may have driven him to save people from disease. The impact of his life work has saved millions of lives.

At the conclusion of the presentation, Mrs. Walker called the group to Tea. She was assisted at the Tea Table by Mrs. Julian McQuiston.