Anyone who knows today a modern canning factory or production of metal containers will wonder what this industry has to do with a clergyman of the century of lights, professor of philosophy and Greek. For a leafy tree to reach its fullness, first we must begin planting the seed in the earth. The germs of the metal industry goes back to the XVIII century and one of its seeds was Lazzaro Spallanzani.
He was born in Scadiano (Reggio Emilia) in Italy on January 12, 1729. He studied at the Jesuit College of Reggio, instructing himself in rhetoric and philosophy. His father sent him to Bologna with the intention of studying jurisprudence but soon abandoned it because of the naturist philosophy influenced by his cousin Laura Bassi who was a professor of physics at that university as well as a member of the Roman curia.
In 1757 he is already back in Reggio practicing as a professor of physics, mathematics and Greek at his University. In 1762 he is ordained a priest. He moved to Pavia in 1768, hired as professor of natural history and director of his museum of natural sciences, which he expanded and improved. From there he travels through Turkey, the Mediterranean and Eastern Europe on scientific expeditions, specializing little by little in biology. His studies are known in academic and scientific environments of the time, reaching fame and prestige, being appointed member of academies and scientific societies of half Europe including the University of Paris, the most advanced of the moment.
He died in Pavia on February 12, 1799. He was a tenacious and hardworking man, impetuous and energetic, self-centered and eager for fame that brought multiple knowledge to humanity. But what discoveries were these? :
– 1761: It puts in question the theory admitted by the naturalistic scientists of the moment about the “spontaneous generation” of the microorganisms. It shows with the use of the microscope that they are of an “animal” nature, they are in the air, they are born, they grow and they reproduce.
– 1767: In the same line of research, check that these microorganisms are eliminated by heat. Boiling a culture broth in a container and sealing it tightly confirms that no microbes develop. The seed of the preserves was cast. Luis Pasteur would continue this line of inquiry.
– 1768: Study the “regeneration” of organs in certain animals. The recovery of limbs lost due to amputation in salamanders, amphibians and earthworms is evident.
– 1780: Investigates the fertilization of animals, later developing artificial insemination.
A whole catalog of performances in different fields, typical of the polyvalence of the researchers of the time. His great contribution to the future metal industry was to discover the relationship between the action of “microorganisms”, heat and closed containers. An important stone hidden in the foundation had been placed in our building.