Welcome dedicated readers and curious visitors,
You might ask how on earth wine could be related to medical research. I asked that too.
It definitely sounds like bogus news, right. Just like the unlikely news we hear every week that researchers have found that drinking coffee increases/decreases risk of prostrate cancer.
But it’s not.
And it’s not recent news either.
This milestone in chemistry was achieved by none other than one of the greatest chemists to ever walk the planet. It was the great, the venerable, the mighty, the indestructible Louis Pasteur.( OK. Scrap indestructible)
“Wait a minute. He’s the guy who invented that milk boiling thingy, right?”
I would say yes, but the milk thing was just an effect of his studies into the nature of wine. ( Surprising how much a study of wine can yield, huh and wait there’s more)
So here is the story of what happened.
A wine maker in Lille ( in France ) came to Pasteur with a problem he was facing-his wine was terrible. It would turn out good rarely but would become sour after some time.
Pasteur took on this issue. Yipee for us! We all get more (and tastier) French wine.
He observed the yeast in the wine under the microscope and found two types- good yeast and bad yeast.
He thought- ” I guess it’s this bad yeast causing our problem here.”
He found a way to kill the bad yeast by heating the wine after it’s made. Hurrah!
And you can do this to your milk too.
And in the process he proved that these “bad yeast” are germs which keep growing from each other ( and not out of nowhere).
He showed that by preventing the entry of these germs or by killing them you can eliminate stuff like wine turning bad or catching a disease.( Cool huh?)
Using this idea the idea of life somebody later discovered Omnis cellula e cellula– that all life comes from life.
And today we know all about microorganisms because of that.
And studying the crystals of tartaric acid of wine made Pasteur conclude that there were two types of crystals. One that rotated light to the right and the other that rotated light to the left. This led him to come up with a new theory – Optical isomerism. I don’t want to bore anyone by explainin what that is. But students of chemistry- when your teacher talks about optical isomerism, remember this fun story.
And If you are still curious, Pasteur used these ideas of germs to develop vaccines for Rabies, Anthrax and Cholera.
All in a Life’s Work, huh?
So next time you look at wine, remember it’s not just wine.
It’s something that helped change the course of human history.
Lots of nice stories to tell in chemistry, aren’t there?
Chemistry is fun, isn’t it?