The Weekly Scientist – Pasteur and the Germ Theory

BEDA 2018, The Monthly Scientist

Hello and welcome to the first of four weekly scientists. We wouldn’t understand how the human body works without these scientists and many of their discoveries have enabled us to live for longer!

Louis Pasteur

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Born: Dec 27, 1822 at Dole, Jura, Franche-Comté, France

Died: Sep 28, 1895 (at age 72) at Marnes-la-Coquette, Hauts-de-Seine, France

Noted for: helped resolve the mysteries of several deadly diseases like chicken cholera, anthrax, rabies and silkworm diseases. He also contributed to the development of the very first vaccines.

Why scientist of the week?

Vaccinations have saved thousands upon thousands of lives. Pasteur created vaccinations for some of the most horrendous diseases.

Pasteur’s first vaccine discovery was in 1879 with a contagious disease called chicken-cholera. After unexpectedly exposing chickens to the weakened form of a disease, he proved that they became immune to the actual virus. Pasteur continued to extend his “germ theory” to formulate vaccinations for various diseases including anthrax, smallpox and cholera.

In 1882, Pasteur made a decision to emphasize his efforts and research on the subject of rabies disease which was proven to attack the central nervous system. In 1885, he vaccinated Joseph Meister, a nine-year-old boy who had previously been bitten 14 times by a rabid dog. The effective results of Pasteur’s vaccine for rabies brought him instant fame. This set off a worldwide fundraising campaign to construct the Pasteur Institute in Paris, France, which was inaugurated on November 14, 1888.

Cheers Louis for saving me from the horrors of cholera, smallpox and anthrax!

ThatBiologist Everywhere!

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The Monthly Scientist: Miss August

The Monthly Scientist

Hello, this year is disappearing so fast! Today we’re celebrating a fantastic scientist, without her research we might not know as much about cancer as we do today. Of course today we are honouring…

Marie Curie

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Born: 7 November 1867 in Warsaw, Poland

Died: 4 July 1934, age 66.

Noted for: First research into the treatment of tumours with radiation and the discovery of radium and polonium.

Why scientist of the month?

Curie began life as a teacher but her scientific career started when she moved to Paris and met her future husband Pierre Curie. In July 1898, the Curies announced the discovery of a new chemical element, polonium. At the end of the year, they announced the discovery of another, radium.

Pierre died in 1906 and Marie took over his teaching post, becoming the first woman to teach at the Sorbonne. The Curie’s research was crucial in the development of x-rays in surgery. During World War One Curie helped to equip ambulances with x-ray equipment, which she herself drove to the front lines.

If all that wasn’t enough she is also the only person who has ever won Nobel Prizes in both physics and chemistry. As well as her research into the treatment of tumours with radiation was essential to what we know about cancer and how we treat it now.

Yet again, Curie is among the wonderful scientists that know how to perfectly turn a phrase so to conclude this is my favourite Marie Curie quote.

“I am among those who think that science has great beauty. A scientist in his laboratory is not only a technician: he is also a child placed before natural phenomena which impress him like a fairy tale.”

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6 in 60: Number 45 – Famous Scientists

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I’ve written a lot about scientists in my monthly scientist series, catch it here if you’ve missed it. Today I thought I’d go and throw 6 of my favourite facts about 6 of my favourite scientists, simple, let’s go!

  1. Marie Curie was the youngest of five children and was born to poor school teachers.
  2. Unlike most researchers, Jane Goodall named the animals that were part of her studies, normally numbers were assigned in order to remove the possibility of the researcher becoming attached to the subjects.
  3. Galileo enrolled to do a medical degree at the University of Pisa but never finished, instead choosing to study mathematics.
  4. In honor of his work and influential contributions, Louis Pastuer was made a Grand Croix of the Legion of Honor, a prestigious French order.
  5. Alexander Graham Bell didn’t have the middle name “Graham” until he turned 11 when his father gave it to him as a birthday present. He’d earlier asked to have a middle name like his two brothers.
  6. In his early years Edwin Hubble was a skilled athlete as well as a bright student, competing and achieving highly in track and field

Hope you’ve enjoyed this eclectic mix! Next week will be a ThatBiologist special, we’re going to be dipping into the world of Sharks in The Shark Tank with a new blog every day!

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Coming Next Week

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The Monthly Scientist: Miss June

The Monthly Scientist

Is it really July already! The year seems to be flying by and I’m racing towards moving to London to start my masters degree! But plenty more blogs to write before that comes around.

Miss Lynn Margulis

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Born: 5 March 1938

Died: 22 November 2011

Noted for: American evolutionary theorist, particularly for the theory of symbiogenisis.

Why scientist of the month?

Symbiosis is a fantastic word don’t you think? Well we have to thank (at least in part) Margulis for such a word. Her life’s work was centred on the idea of organisms in association with each other. The relationship could be beneficial to one or more of the organisms but it could also be unfavourable. The scientific community in the 1980s were highly sceptical of this idea. Most were more agreed to the Darwin “survival of the fittest” way of looking things even though the two ideas do work in harmony.

Her main work was on the endosymbiotic theory. This theory is about the origin of eukaryotic cells (cells with a nucleus). To condense the theory somewhat it suggests that mitochondria and chloroplasts were once there own independent bacteria. Then they merged with other cells to become the eukaryotic cell we know and love today. At the time many thought that the theory was completely wacky but now its widely accepted.

She also worked on another hypothesis called the Gaia hypothesis. This proposes that Earth can be viewed as one singular self regulating organism. It goes on to say that everything on Earth relies on each and that the life forms actively regulate the Earth to maintain conditions best for them.

By now you might realise that I like to conclude these on a quote from the scientist 220px-Lynn_Margulisthemselves, honestly there were so many from this lady that I found it hard to pick one. Nevertheless to conclude here is my favourite quote from Margulis:

“Life on earth is such a good story you cannot afford to miss the beginning… Beneath our superficial differences we are all of us walking communities of bacteria. The world shimmers, a pointillist landscape made of tiny living beings.”

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The Monthly Scientist: Mr May

The Monthly Scientist

This month I’ve been binge watching blue planet, one of my favourite environment documentary’s so of course this months scientist goes to none other than:

Sir David Frederick Attenborough

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Born: 8 May 1926 (age 90) in Isleworth, London.

Noted for: Being a broadcaster and naturalist. Also for having one of the best voices of all human kind.

Why scientist of the month?

Aside from being one of my biggest inspirations to become a scientist, he also got so many people around the world taking an interest about what’s going on outside his front door. He has received so many awards that his current full title is Sir David Attenborough OM CH CVO CBE FRS FSA. He also has 32 honorary degrees from British Universities. I can only aspire to have that many letters after my name!

He first became the voice of nature documentary’s in 1952 with the three part series Animal Patterns, he then went on to present a show called Zoo Quest which featured the animals at London Zoo. Perhaps his biggest credit is the Life series, an entire collection of the stories of Life across earth. The series started with “Life On Earth” in 1979 and finished (well so far, although Attenborough has said the series has concluded) with “Life in Cold Blood” in 2008. Although his series Blue Planet in 2001 remains to be my favourite closely followed by the Hunt in 2015.

He has been a huge influence on the general public by showing them the wonders of the natural world. As well as being a huge advocate for things that can’t speak for themselves so let me finish with his closing message from State of the Planet in 2002.

“The future of life on earth depends on our ability to take action. Many individuals are doing what they can, but real success can only come if there’s a change in our societies and our economics and in our politics. I’ve been lucky in my lifetime to see some of the greatest spectacles that the natural world has to offer. Surely we have a responsibility to leave for future generations a planet that is healthy, inhabitable by all species.”

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*NOTE* Well done for reading this far if you have! Just to let you know that I’m off on holiday for the next two weeks, so I’ll be back writing on the 14th of June. Happy Biologying!