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January 24: A Founder of Microbiology

January 24, 2013

Ferdinand Cohn, a German botanist and biologist whose classification of bacteria into four groups is still in use today, was born in the ghetto of Breslau on this date in 1828. Cohn's father was a successful manufacturer who bought him an expensive microscope — a tool that his university in Breslau lacked — which enabled him to make major discoveries about bacteria, and fungi, insect epidemics and plant diseases throughout the 1850s and '60s. Cohn was the first to show that a bacillus can change from a vegetative state to a dormant, durable endospore state when its environment demands it. He also developed theories of the bacterial causes of infectious disease, and showed that protoplasm is almost identical in plant and animal cells. His three-volume treatise in 1872 launched modern microbiology and classified bacteria into genera and species.

"Cohn recognized that both pathogens and non-pathogens could be found in drinking water and spoke of the importance of analyzing drinking water. Finally, Cohn worked with Robert Koch on the development of the etiology of the anthrax bacillus." —World of Microbiology and Immunology

JEWDAYO ROCKS! Robert Moog unveiled his "Minimoog" synthesizer on this date in 1970. It was the first synthesizer to go on tour with rock bands and helped transform the sounds of rock and jazz. For a brief history of the Minimoog, see below.