Which Scientist First Disproved Spontaneous Generation

  • In this which scientist first disproved spontaneous generation post we have briefly explained about of disproved spontaneous generation and Pasteur’s experiments.

Which Scientist First Disproved Spontaneous Generation

  • The debate over spontaneous generation raged on well into the nineteenth century, with scientists on both sides. The Paris Academy of Sciences offered a prize for problem resolution to settle the debate.
  • The challenge was accepted by Louis Pasteur, a well-known French chemist who had been researching microbial fermentation and the causes of wine spoilage.
  • In 1858, Pasteur filtered air through a gun-cotton filter and discovered it to be full of microorganisms upon microscopic examination, implying that exposing a broth to air did not introduce a “life force” to the broth but rather airborne microorganisms.

Pasteur's experiments

  • Later, Pasteur created a series of flasks with long, twisted necks (dubbed “swan-neck” flasks) in which he boiled broth to sterilise it.
  • His design allowed air from the outside to exchange with the air inside the flasks while preventing the introduction of any airborne microorganisms that might get caught in the twists and bends of the flasks’ necks.
  • If a life force other than the airborne microorganisms was responsible for microbial growth within the sterilised flasks, it would have access to the broth but the microorganisms would not.
  • He predicted correctly that sterilised broth in his swan-neck flasks would remain sterile as long as the swan necks were intact. However, if the necks are broken, microorganisms will be introduced into the flasks, contaminating them and allowing microbial growth within the broth.
  • Pasteur’s experiments definitively refuted the theory of spontaneous generation, earning him the prestigious Alhumbert Prize from the Paris Academy of Sciences in 1862. In a later lecture in 1864, Pasteur stated, “Omne vivum ex vivo” (“Life only comes from life”).
  • Pasteur recounted his famous swan-neck flask experiment in this lecture, stating that “life is a germ, and a germ is life.” The doctrine of spontaneous generation will never recover from the mortal blow dealt by this simple experiment.” It never has, to Pasteur’s credit.

Pasteur’s experiment consisted of two parts. In the first part, the broth in the flask was boiled to sterilize it. When this broth was cooled, it remained free of contamination. In the second part of the experiment, the flask was boiled and then the neck was broken off. The broth in this flask became contaminated.

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