Pasteur's Germ Theory
On this date in 1878, French chemist Louis Pasteur presented a paper on his germ theory of disease to the French Academy of Medicine in Paris. His theory, that microbes, or germs, cause many diseases, is among modern medicine's most important discoveries. As he walked through hospital wards, Pasteur noticed that physicians and other hospital workers sometimes spread disease from the sick to the healthy. He is often called the father of microbiology because his studies pushed hospitals to develop more sterile practices to minimize disease. He also discovered that a weaker form of a particular germ could be used to protect people against that germ's more virulent forms. Pasteur was one of the few researchers of his era to become famous during his lifetime. Among his other achievements, he is largely credited with saving the silk and wine industries in France, and developing the pasteurization process, where germs are eradicated using a controlled heat source.
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