The Cycle of Life:
An History of Experimental Ecology

Sterling Memorial
Kline Sciences
Medical Historical
Exhibit Map

Louis Pasteur, Etudes sur la Biere, 1858

Dumas inspired Louis Pasteur (1822-1895) with his vision of nature. Trained initially in chemistry, Pasteur eventually strove to understand the role of oxidation in fermentation, combustion, and putrefaction and how these processes fueled the “cycle of life.” Pasteur based his investigations on the “law of the universe that all that has lived disappears.” For him, the “cycle of life” was an “absolutely necessary exchange of mineral and gaseous substances” from living beings back to the soil and atmosphere. Only death, and death’s effect, decay could cause living organisms to release the simple and mobile principles that made up their bodies. Depicted in the book is a Geissler chamber connected to bottles of a nutritive solution and mounted on a microscope.



Erasmus Darwin, Zoonomia, 1793
Charles Darwin, On the Formation of Vegetable Matter by Worms, 1881
Alexander von Humboldt, Cosmos, 1858
Dumas and Boussingault, Balance of Organic Matter, 1844
Ferdinand Cohn, Bacteria, The Smallest Living Beings, 1872
Louis Pasteur, Etudes sur la Biere, 1862
Selman Waksman, Sergei Winogradsky, 1953
Selman Waksman, Humus, 1939
Vladimir Vernadsky, Principles of Biogeochemistry, 1960
James Lovelock, An Homage to Gaia, 1985
Lloyd Ackert
Whitney Humanities Center
Yale University
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P.O. Box 208298
New Haven, CT 06520-8298
Office: (203).432.3112

The Sterling Memorial Exhibit is located in the Overflow Case to the left of the circulation desk. The Sterling Memorial Library is located at

120 High Street
Yale University
New Haven, CT 06520
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