Louis Pasteur - Creativity and Science
Louis Pasteur (1822-95)
French scientist (pictured right), who:
- saved millions of lives through his discoveries about vaccination and
pasteurization (which stopped milk and wine going sour by heating them to kill most of
- explained the science of fermentation, which makes wine and beer!
Why was he so creative?
1. Purpose and religion
Pasteur (pictured right in 1895) believed in:
- God's love and infinite wisdom (in comparison with his own ignorance).
- the Christian virtues of hard work, love and sincerity.
- science before money (giving most of his patent royalties to the French
Pasteur was totally enthusiastic about his work.
He described the discovery of an important scientific fact as:
“one of the keenest joys of which the human soul is capable”.
3. Determination and experimentation
- willing to continually experiment to find the truth
Pasteur is pictured right in his laboratory in Albert Edelfelt's 1885 painting.
His years of experiments confirmed that disease was spread by germs or viruses that revolutionized healthcare
- better sanitation and hygiene.
He developed the first vaccine for rabies through the injection of a weakened form of the
He thought that problems were not insurmountable, but could be overcome by observing the facts.
“Never make any assertion which cannot be simply and decisively proved”, he said.
4. Continual learning
- loved the pursuit of knowledge.
- believed that scrupulous examination of all known facts in
experiments was essential to test all possible hypotheses (see point 3).
“In the field of experimentation, chance favours only the prepared mind”, he
He also learned from other scientists, particularly:
- Edward Jenner’s (pictured right) discovery of a smallpox vaccination.
- Robert Koch’s (pictured right below) pioneering work on germs creating disease.
Pasteur strongly supported the sharing of knowledge with them.
“Knowledge belongs to humanity” he also said, and “science has no
5. Imagination and intuition
He thought imagination and intuition were vital to creative thinking, but they must always be checked and
approved by facts learned from experiments.
So he tested his intuition that germs must cause diseases after discovering that they
6. Risk taker
Pasteur first used his rabies vaccine on a nine-year-old boy, even though he could have faced prosecution
as an unlicensed physician.
But he took the risk and saved the boy’s life.
7. Critical scrutiny
Pasteur questioned anything before it was either rejected or proved by fact.
Key quotes on
Science has no country, because knowledge belongs to humanity.
Never make any assertion which cannot be simply and decisively proved.
Key quotes on
In the field of experimentation, chance favours only the prepared mind.
My strength lies solely in my tenacity.
It is surmounting difficulties that makes heroes.
Key quote on wisdom
A bottle of wine contains more philosophy than all the books in the world.