Monday, April 27, 2015

Revenge and Beer

You know Louis Pasteur? French dude who made drinking milk less of a bacterial adventure? Created vaccines for anthrax and rabies? 

When he was 32, he became Dean of the Faculty of Science at the University of Lille and Lille happened to be a location of wine production. (In France? What are the chances?) Pasteur developed a process for killing micro-organisms contaminating the product and the French made beaucoup profits.   

While both France and Germany enjoyed consuming alcohol, they did not enjoy an intellectual exchange and there was an especially heated rivalry between Pasteur and his German counterparts. The Franco-Prussian war did not improve the antagonism.

Pasteur attempted to revolutionize brewing and anticipated crippling the German economy.  He constructed a process to kill unwanted micro-organisms and improved yeast strains. Pasteur shared results with non-German breweries and specified that his results never be published in German. 

You've probably already guessed that Germany's beer production was not dealt a fatal blow. However, Pasteur's research in micro-organisms led to pasteurization, microbial fermentation, the study of microbiology, vaccinations and the suggestion that surgeons might want to wash their hands.

A sad note for Pasteur, three of his five children died, two from typhoid and one from a brain tumor. While he didn't end up crushing Germany, he did save lots of other kids. 

Assuming people get their kids vaccinated before their Disneyland trips and assuming the health care system figures out preventing necrotizing fasciitis might be a good idea, more kids might grow up to enjoy non-German beer. 

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