Louis Pasteur: And the Hidden World of Microbes

Louis Pasteur: And the Hidden World of Microbes

Louis Pasteur: And the Hidden World of Microbes

Louis Pasteur: And the Hidden World of Microbes

Synopsis

Chronicling Louis Pasteur's rise from humble beginnings to international fame, Louis Pasteur and the Hidden World of Microbes investigates the complex life of a man who revolutionized our understanding of disease. Alongside Pasteur's pioneering work with microorganisms, his innovative use of heat to kill harmful organisms in food--a process now known as "pasteurization"--and his development of the rabies vaccine, Louise Robbins places Pasteur in the context of his risky scientific methods and his rigid family and political beliefs. Robbins's reveals a man of genius with sometimes troubling convictions. Louis Pasteur and the Hidden World of Microbes is a fascinating look at one of the most important scientific minds of the last two centuries.

Excerpt

On the morning of December 2, 1885, a big, fierce dog rampaged through Newark, New Jersey, attacking everything in its path. A crowd gave chase, and someone shot it dead on the stoop of a house where it had been frantically clawing and gnawing at the door. In all, it had bitten 17 dogs and 6 children. The dog had behaved like an animal with rabies, and everyone feared that the fatal disease would spread. The city went into a panic. Bullets whizzed through the streets and hardware stores sold out of muzzles after the mayor issued an order that all unmuzzled dogs were to be shot.

If the dog had given rabies to the children it had bitten, within several weeks they would begin to develop the characteristic symptoms of the disease: fever, vomiting, convulsions, and great thirst combined with the inability to swallow (rabies was often known as [hydrophobia,] or fear of water). Paralysis and death would follow inevitably. To destroy the [poison] that doctors feared had been transmitted in the dog's saliva, they performed the standard treatment, cauterization: They poured a biting solution of strong acid into the wounds (the children were spared being seared with a redhot iron, the alternative method if no acid was handy).

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