Paris: Victor Masson, 1862. 1st Edition. PASTEUR’S SEMINAL REFUTATION OF SPONTANEOUS GENERATION, INCLUSIVE OF “SWAN NECK” FLASK ENGRAVINGS. The doctrine of spontaneous generation -- a belief that living organisms arose spontaneously from non-living matter -- was used to explain the appearance of microorganisms in decaying organic substances beginning with Aristotle and was taken as scientific fact for two millennia.
Written in 1861 and published in 1862, Pasteur famously felled the doctrine by demonstrating in this paper that microorganisms did not arise spontaneously but came from pre-existing microorganisms. In understanding the import of sterilized equipment, etc., Pasteur demonstrated the possibility of culturing and studying a single microorganism in the absence of others” (Norman). Taken in total, his work lay the foundation for the germ theory of disease and thus had profound implications for microbiology and medicine.
This volume includes "The longest and most important of Pasteur's papers on spontaneous generation, describing the series of classic experiments with bent-necked and sealed flasks by which he proved conclusively that fermentation and putrefaction are not the products of spontaneous generation, but result from contamination by airborne micro-organisms” (ibid).
Pasteur began his studies on spontaneous generation via his interest in fermentation. "In 1860 he had completed a series of careful but simple 'Experiments relative to so-called Spontaneous Generation' ... When his conclusions were called into question by Pouchet… Pasteur [conducted] further experiments [presented here] which demonstrated beyond dispute that fermentation is caused by the actions of minute living organisms, and that if these are excluded or killed fermentation does not occur. This enabled him to explain to brewers and vintners the cause and prevention of sourness in their products. The heating process that he recommended was the earliest form of 'pasteurization'" (PMM).
Pasteur’s swan-necked culture vessels (illustrated on the engraved plate) were integral to Pasteur’s discovery. He partly filled the body of the flask with an ‘infusion’ - a nutrient rich broth -- then boiled the infusion killing any germs already present in the liquid, a process now known as pasteurization.
“Pasteur allowed the infusion to rest. Over time, he observed that the physical appearance, particularly the colour of the broth did not change. This he explained was because the germ particles in the air attempting to enter the flask had become became trapped in the s shaped bend. Therefore, they had not contaminated the liquid. Pasteur then tipped the particles into the body of the flask and observed that the microorganisms appeared in the infusion and multiplied, spoiling the infusion.
“This demonstrated that certain germ particles in the air caused the spoiling of the broth, disproving spontaneous generation – a previous leading theory of disease that claimed the air itself was to blame. From this Pasteur developed and published his germ theory of disease revealing to the world the existence of microorganisms and the role they play” (Worcester Medical Museum)
ALSO INCLUDED: Kirchhoff and Bunsen’s long spectral analysis of salts paper introduces the technique of spectroscopy as a tool for chemical analysis, work fundamental in the development of analytical chemistry and THAT marked the beginning of the application of spectroscopy to identify and analyze chemical elements. Item #1674
CONDITION: Volumes 64, 65, & 66, solidly bound together in burgundy cloth; gilt-lettered at the spine; very slight toning to the boards. Note that the toning on the plates in the image appear much worse than they do to the naked eye; the brightness of the scanner light does this. 14 plates, 1 colored. Ex. Library with NO spine markings & only a stamp on the front paste down & one on the title page. Clean & bright inside and out. Near fine condition.