The Beginnings

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Louis Pasteur was born on the 27th December 1822 in a small town in the Jura mountains. His father, Jean Joseph Pasteur was a tanner and war veteran and his mother was a hard working and religious woman. 

Pasteur was hard working and the best student in his class.  Jean's greatest hope was that one day his son would be a teacher in the local school; and so, with his headmaster's encouragement Louis, at sixteen, was sent to Paris to train.  There he grew so homesick that his father brought him home and in 1839 Pasteur entered the Royal College of Besancon where he became assistant mathematics master.

Pasteur was also a talented artist, but at Besancon he became enthusiastic about science. With the conviction to acquire more knowledge, he returned to Paris.  At the 'Ecole Normale Superieure' he took two degrees in physics and chemistry, and his research in Crystallography was later to help scientists study the three dimensional structure of the molecule, giving rise to stereochemistry.

At 25, he became a doctor of science, and by 26 he was one of the most influential scientists in France.  He began by teaching in a small local high school but many chemists thought that this was a waste of his time.  In 1848 he became a professor of chemistry at the University of Strasburg.  It was there that he met Marie Laurant, the daughter of the rector, who he married in 1849 and with whom he had five children.