Frases de Louis Pasteur

Louis Pasteur Foto
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Louis Pasteur

Fecha de nacimiento: 27. Diciembre 1822
Fecha de muerte: 28. Septiembre 1895

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Louis Pasteur fue un químico y bacteriólogo francés cuyos descubrimientos tuvieron enorme importancia en diversos campos de las ciencias naturales, sobre todo en la química y microbiología. A él se debe la técnica conocida como pasteurización. A través de experimentos refutó definitivamente la teoría de la generación espontánea y desarrolló la teoría germinal de las enfermedades infecciosas. Por sus trabajos es considerado el pionero de la microbiología moderna, iniciando la llamada «Edad de Oro de la Microbiología».

Aunque la teoría microbiana fue muy controvertida en sus inicios, hoy en día es fundamental en la medicina moderna y la microbiología clínica, condujo a innovaciones tan importantes como el desarrollo de vacunas, los antibióticos, la esterilización y la higiene como métodos efectivos de cura y prevención contra la propagación de las enfermedades infecciosas. Esta idea representa el inicio de la medicina científica, al demostrar que la enfermedad es el efecto visible de una causa que puede ser buscada y eliminada mediante un tratamiento específico. En el caso de las enfermedades infecciosas, se debe buscar el germen causante de cada enfermedad para hallar un modo de combatirlo.

Su primera contribución importante a la ciencia fue en química orgánica, con el descubrimiento del dimorfismo del ácido tartárico, al observar al microscopio que el ácido racémico presentaba dos tipos de cristal, con simetría especular, contradiciendo los descubrimientos del entonces químico de primera categoría Mitscherlin. Este descubrimiento lo realizó cuando contaba con poco más de 20 años de edad. Fue por tanto el descubridor de las formas dextrógiras y levógiras que desviaban el plano de polarización de la luz con el mismo ángulo pero en sentido contrario.

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Frases Louis Pasteur

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„How do you know that in ten thousand years, one will not consider it more likely that matter has emerged from life?“

—  Louis Pasteur
Context: I have been looking for spontaneous generation for twenty years without discovering it. No, I do not judge it impossible. But what allows you to make it the origin of life? You place matter before life and you decide that matter has existed for all eternity. How do you know that the incessant progress of science will not compel scientists to consider that life has existed during eternity, and not matter? You pass from matter to life because your intelligence of today cannot conceive things otherwise. How do you know that in ten thousand years, one will not consider it more likely that matter has emerged from life? You move from matter to life because your current intelligence, so limited compared to what will be the future intelligence of the naturalist, tells you that things cannot be understood otherwise. If you want to be among the scientific minds, what only counts is that you will have to get rid of a priori reasoning and ideas, and you will have to do necessary deductions not giving more confidence than we should to deductions from wild speculation. Partially quoted in René Dubos, Louis Pasteur: Free Lance of Science, Da Capo Press, Inc., 1950. p 396. Original in French: «La génération spontanée, je la cherche sans la découvrir depuis vingt ans. Non, je ne la juge pas impossible. Mais quoi donc vous autorise à vouloir qu'elle ait été l'origine de la vie? Vous placez la matière avant la vie et vous faites la matière existante de toute éternité. Qui vous dit que, le progrès incessant de la science n'obligera pas les savants, qui vivront dans un siècle, dans mille ans, dans dix mille ans... à affirmer que la vie a été de toute éternité et non la matière.? Vous passez de la matière à la vie parce que votre intelligence actuelle, si bornée par rapport à ce que sera l'intelligence des naturalistes futurs, vous dit qu'elle ne peut comprendre autrement les choses. Qui m'assure que dans dix mille ans on ne considérera pas que c'est de la vie qu'on croira impossible de ne pas passer à la matière? Si vous voulez être au nombre des esprits scientifiques, s, qui seuls comptent, il faut vous débarrasser des idées et des raisonnements a priori et vous en tenir aux déductions nécessaires des faits établis et ne pas accorder plus de confiance qu'il ne faut aux déductions de pures hypothèses." (Pasteur et la philosophie,Patrice Pinet, Editions L'Harmattan, p. 63.

„At those supreme moments, there is something in the depths of our souls which tells us that the world may be more than a mere combination of phenomena proper to a mechanical equilibrium brought out of the chaos of the elements simply through the gradual action of the forces of matter.“

—  Louis Pasteur
Context: I confess frankly, however, that I am not competent on the question of our philosophical schools. Of M. Comte I have only read a few absurd passages; of M. Littré I only know the beautiful pages you were inspired to write by his rare knowledge and some of his domestic virtues. My philosophy is of the heart and not of the mind, and I give myself up, for instance, to those feelings about eternity which come naturally at the bedside of a cherished child drawing its last breath. At those supreme moments, there is something in the depths of our souls which tells us that the world may be more than a mere combination of phenomena proper to a mechanical equilibrium brought out of the chaos of the elements simply through the gradual action of the forces of matter. p. 163

„Science knows no country, because knowledge belongs to humanity, and is the torch which illuminates the world.“

—  Louis Pasteur
Context: Science knows no country, because knowledge belongs to humanity, and is the torch which illuminates the world. Science is the highest personification of the nation because that nation will remain the first which carries the furthest the works of thought and intelligence. As quoted in Louis Pasteur, Free Lance of Science (1960) by René Jules Dubos, Ch. 3 "Pasteur in Action" As quoted in Louis Pasteur, Free Lance of Science (1960) by René Jules Dubos, Ch. 3 "Pasteur in Action"

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„How do you know that the incessant progress of science will not compel scientists to consider that life has existed during eternity, and not matter?“

—  Louis Pasteur
Context: I have been looking for spontaneous generation for twenty years without discovering it. No, I do not judge it impossible. But what allows you to make it the origin of life? You place matter before life and you decide that matter has existed for all eternity. How do you know that the incessant progress of science will not compel scientists to consider that life has existed during eternity, and not matter? You pass from matter to life because your intelligence of today cannot conceive things otherwise. How do you know that in ten thousand years, one will not consider it more likely that matter has emerged from life? You move from matter to life because your current intelligence, so limited compared to what will be the future intelligence of the naturalist, tells you that things cannot be understood otherwise. If you want to be among the scientific minds, what only counts is that you will have to get rid of a priori reasoning and ideas, and you will have to do necessary deductions not giving more confidence than we should to deductions from wild speculation. Partially quoted in René Dubos, Louis Pasteur: Free Lance of Science, Da Capo Press, Inc., 1950. p 396. Original in French: «La génération spontanée, je la cherche sans la découvrir depuis vingt ans. Non, je ne la juge pas impossible. Mais quoi donc vous autorise à vouloir qu'elle ait été l'origine de la vie? Vous placez la matière avant la vie et vous faites la matière existante de toute éternité. Qui vous dit que, le progrès incessant de la science n'obligera pas les savants, qui vivront dans un siècle, dans mille ans, dans dix mille ans... à affirmer que la vie a été de toute éternité et non la matière.? Vous passez de la matière à la vie parce que votre intelligence actuelle, si bornée par rapport à ce que sera l'intelligence des naturalistes futurs, vous dit qu'elle ne peut comprendre autrement les choses. Qui m'assure que dans dix mille ans on ne considérera pas que c'est de la vie qu'on croira impossible de ne pas passer à la matière? Si vous voulez être au nombre des esprits scientifiques, s, qui seuls comptent, il faut vous débarrasser des idées et des raisonnements a priori et vous en tenir aux déductions nécessaires des faits établis et ne pas accorder plus de confiance qu'il ne faut aux déductions de pures hypothèses." (Pasteur et la philosophie,Patrice Pinet, Editions L'Harmattan, p. 63.

„How is it that you do not see the essential difference between my opponents and myself? Not only have I contradicted, proof in hand, every one of their assertions, while they have never dared to seriously contradict one of mine, but, for them, every cause of error benefits their opinion.“

—  Louis Pasteur
Context: You say that, in the present state of science, it is wiser to have no opinion: well, I have an opinion, not a sentimental one, but a rational one, having acquired a right to it by twenty years of assiduous labour, and it would be wise in every impartial mind to share it. My opinion — nay more, my conviction — is that, in the present state of science, as you rightly say, spontaneous generation is a chimera; and it would be impossible for you to contradict me, for my experiments all stand forth to prove that spontaneous generation is a chimera. What is then your judgment on my experiments? Have I not a hundred times placed organic matter in contact with pure air in the best conditions for it to produce life spontaneously? Have I not practised on these organic materia which are most favourable, according to all accounts, to the genesis of spontaneity, such as blood, urine, and grape juice? How is it that you do not see the essential difference between my opponents and myself? Not only have I contradicted, proof in hand, every one of their assertions, while they have never dared to seriously contradict one of mine, but, for them, every cause of error benefits their opinion. For me, affirming as I do that there are no spontaneous fermentations, I am bound to eliminate every cause of error, every perturbing influence, I can maintain my results only by means of most irreproachable experiments; their opinions, on the contrary, profit by every insufficient experiment and that is where they find their support. Original in French from Œuvres de Pasteur, Volume 7 (1939), Masson et cie, p. 539: Mon opinion, mieux encore, ma conviction, c'est que, dans l'état actuel de la science, comme vous dites avec raison, la génération spontanée est une chimère, et il vous serait impossible de me contredire, car mes expériences sont toutes debout, et toutes prouvent que la génération spontanée est une chimère

„My philosophy is of the heart and not of the mind,“

—  Louis Pasteur
Context: I confess frankly, however, that I am not competent on the question of our philosophical schools. Of M. Comte I have only read a few absurd passages; of M. Littré I only know the beautiful pages you were inspired to write by his rare knowledge and some of his domestic virtues. My philosophy is of the heart and not of the mind, and I give myself up, for instance, to those feelings about eternity which come naturally at the bedside of a cherished child drawing its last breath. At those supreme moments, there is something in the depths of our souls which tells us that the world may be more than a mere combination of phenomena proper to a mechanical equilibrium brought out of the chaos of the elements simply through the gradual action of the forces of matter. p. 163

„I could point to that liquid and say to you, I have taken my drop of water from the immensity of creation, and I have taken it full of the elements appropriated to the development of inferior beings. And I wait, I watch, I question it, begging it to recommence for me the beautiful spectacle of the first creation. But it is dumb, dumb since these experiments were begun several years ago; it is dumb because I have kept it from the only thing man cannot produce, from the germs which float in the air, from Life, for Life is a germ and a germ is Life. Never will the doctrine of spontaneous generation recover from the mortal blow of this simple experiment.“

—  Louis Pasteur
Context: Here is an infusion of organic matter, as limpid as distilled water, and extremely alterable. It has been prepared to-day. To-morrow it will contain animalculae, little infusories, or flakes of mouldiness. I place a portion of that infusion into a flask with a long neck, like this one. Suppose I boil the liquid and leave it to cool. After a few days, mouldiness or animalculae will develop in the liquid. By boiling, I destroyed any germs contained in the liquid or against the glass; but that infusion being again in contact with air, it becomes altered, as all infusions do. Now suppose I repeat this experiment, but that, before boiling the liquid, I draw (by means of an enameller's lamp) the neck of the flask into a point, leaving however, its extremity open. This being done, I boil the liquid in the flask, and leave it to cool. Now the liquid of this second flask will remain pure not only two days, a month, a year, but three or four years — for the experiment I am telling you about is already four years old, and the liquid remains as limpid as distilled water. What difference is there, then, between those two vases? They contain the same liquid, they both contain air, both are open! Why does one decay and the other remain pure? The only difference between them is this : in the first case, the dusts suspended in air and their germs can fall into the neck of the flask and arrive into contact with the liquid, where they find appropriate food and develop; thence microscopic beings. In the second flask, on the contrary, it is impossible, or at least extremely difficult, unless air is violently shaken, that dusts suspended in air should enter the vase; they fall on its curved neck. When air goes in and out of the vase through diffusions or variations of temperature, the latter never being sudden, the air comes in slowly enough to drop the dusts and germs that it carries at the opening of the neck or in the first curves. This experiment is full of instruction; for this must be noted, that everything in air save its dusts can easily enter the vase and come into contact with the liquid. Imagine what you choose in the air — electricity, magnetism, ozone, unknown forces even, all can reach the infusion. Only one thing cannot enter easily, and that is dust, suspended in air. And the proof of this is that if I shake the vase violently two or three times, in a few days it contains animalculae or mouldiness. Why? because air has come in violently enough to carry dust with it. And, therefore, gentlemen, I could point to that liquid and say to you, I have taken my drop of water from the immensity of creation, and I have taken it full of the elements appropriated to the development of inferior beings. And I wait, I watch, I question it, begging it to recommence for me the beautiful spectacle of the first creation. But it is dumb, dumb since these experiments were begun several years ago; it is dumb because I have kept it from the only thing man cannot produce, from the germs which float in the air, from Life, for Life is a germ and a germ is Life. Never will the doctrine of spontaneous generation recover from the mortal blow of this simple experiment. Translation from The Life of Pasteur, pp. 141-142 https://archive.org/stream/cu31924012227595#page/n153/mode/2up Original in French: Et par conséquent, messieurs pourrais-je dire, en vous montrant ce liquide : J’ai pris dans l’immensité de la création ma goutte d’eau, et je l’ai prise toute pleine de la gelée féconde, c’est-à-dire, pour parler le langage de la science, toute pleine des éléments appropriés au développement des êtres inférieurs, Et j’attends, et j’observe, et je l’interroge, et je lui demande de vouloir bien recommencer pour moi la primitive création ; ce serait un si beau spectacle ! Mais elle est muette ! Elle est muette depuis plusieurs années que ces expériences sont commencées. Ah ! c’est que j’ai éloigné d’elle, et que j’éloigne encore en ce moment, la seule chose qu’il n’ait pas été donné à l’homme de produire, j’ai éloigné d’elle les germes qui flottent dans l’ait" j’ai éloigné d’elle la vie, car la vie c’est le germe et le germe c’est la vie. Jamais la doctrine de la génération spontanée ne se relèvera du coup mortel que Cette simple expérience lui porte.

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