Max von Pettenkofer, German chemist

Max von Pettenkofer, German chemist

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Credit: BILDAGENTUR-ONLINE/TSCHANZ/SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY

Caption: Engraving of Max Joseph von Pettenkofer (1818-1901), German chemist and physician. In 1882 von Pettenkofer published an early book on hygiene which argued for better sanitation to combat illness. He opposed Pasteur's germ theory of disease, believing instead that infection was spread by miasma (toxic vapours). His belief in miasma was so strong that when Robert Koch claimed to have found the bacteria responsible for cholera, von Pettenkofer drank a contaminated glass of water. He did not succumb to the disease and claimed victory. Von Pettenkofer also studied metabolism, building a calorimeter large enough to hold a human.

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