Science in the 1860's

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In the early 1860’s the French beverage industry was thriving. Pasteur was called upon to tackle some of the problems that were plaguing the industry. The special concern was the spoiling of wine and beer, which caused great economic loss and tarnished France’s reputation for fine vintage wines. He noticed that when aged properly, the liquid contained little yeast cells. But when the wine turned sour, he was a proliferation of bacterial cells which were producing lactic acid. Pasteur suggested that heating the wine gently at 120 degrees Fahrenheit would kill the bacteria that produced lactic acid and let the wine age properly. In 1862, Pasteur was approached and asked to help with a problem. Silkworms had been attacked by a mysterious disease, and its rapid spread threatened the French silk production. For five years he worked on the silkworm diseases and eventually found the problem. The silk industry was saved, and Pasteur’s reputation grew. Once discovering the bacteria that cause cholera, a deadly disease at the time, he discovered how to make a good vaccine.

New discoveries about photography were happening during the 1860’s. English physician and physicist Thomas Young had a theory regarding color vision. Young believed that the eye had three types of receptors that were sensitive to three primary colors of light. Maxwell showed how any color of the rainbow could be created by adding or subtracting one of these three primary colors of light: red, blue, and green. Using this knowledge, he made the first color photograph in 1861. Later he went on to study the nature of Saturn’s rings. The astronomer and physicist Christiaan Huygens who discovered them, had a theory that was not yet widely accepted. Maxwell suggested that the rings were neither solid nor liquid, and that they would break up due to mechanical forces. In 1860, he turned his attention to the tiny particles that compose gases on Earth. The question of how...
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