Pasteur's Swan Flask

Louis Pasteur’s Swan Flask Experiments

Illustration of Pasteur's swan neck flask experimentSome time ago, I wrote about how Evolutionists still believe in spontaneous generation, just giving it a new name: Abiogenesis. That post mentioned Pasteur a bit and included a picture of one of his experiments using “swan flasks”. Ever since then, I’ve had a trickle of people searching for info about Pasteur’s flasks.

Eventually, I got so curious I did some searching of my own. Here’s what I found:

Louis Pasteur photo

Pasteur’s photo portrait by Nadar

Darwin’s Origin of Species book retelling the ancient idea of biological evolution was first printed in 1859. From the beginning, many people recognized what believing in life creating itself would do to Christianity and human equality, including Louis Pasteur.

Just a few years before, Pasteur had begun studying how microbes (tiny living creatures like bacteria and yeast) were the cause of food spoilage. He was in a perfect place to understand what Darwin was claiming and the scientific truth about life. He was soon busy showing how impossible the #1 necessary step of Evolution was: getting life to start in the first place.

Since the time of the ancient Greeks, people had believed everything from flies to mice to eels just popped into being every day. Slowly, scientists had shown all of them actually had parents.

But then we developed microscopes and started seeing all kind of miniature living things that Pasteur first called microbes. Where did they come from?

Others had tried to show whether microbes just came to life whenever things were right. Some reported that droplets of ocean water reenacted what they believed had been happening since the dawn of time: life springing into being all by itself. But no one really knew how these invisible things worked and they made mistakes like letting air in or not heating things enough to kill everything.

We all understand what Pasteur was the first to figure out: you don’t have to touch something dirty to get germs on you. Bacteria and viruses float around in the air ready to settle into a pleasant environment like your lungs and nose.

Pasteur proved this when he managed to catch some microbes from the air in cotton. He cultured the cotton and it grew the same kinds of microbes as usual. Now it was time to see if stopping those airborne germs stopped life from starting in a flask.

Swan Flask used by Pasteur

Here’s how Pasteur did it:

  • First he made flasks with bent, “swan”, necks. This was to trap all the organisms in the air before they could get through
  • He filled the bottom of the flask with some broth microbes liked to grow in
  • Then he boiled it to kill anything already there
  • While it was still hot, he melted the glass at the tip of the neck to keep microbes from getting in

Nothing grew in the broth

  • Even when the sealed end was broken off, the swan neck did its job (in fact, it’s still doing it’s job today almost 150 years later!)

Some people believed in a “vital ingredient” in air, so Pasteur broke off the tip of the glass neck to let air flow through. But the swan neck shape would catch anything heavier than gas. No microbes could float through.

Finally, Pasteur tipped the flask to expose the broth to the trapped microbes

  • sure enough, it started to culture just like usual

Artwork of Meteorite falling: WikiCommonsAs you know, Pasteur’s experiments were undeniable; what he discovered was true. To this day, evolutionists don’t like to talk about spontaneous generation; most books skip right over it to the “first cells”. The most recent experiment “proving” you could get life to start from non-life is over 60 years old. Some scientists have even turned to asteroids to give them enough time for the impossible to happen.

But, nature serves its Master whether people are willing to worship Him or not.

Let God be true, but every man a liar; as it is written, That you might be justified in your sayings, and might overcome when you are judged. Romans 3:4

Want to see Pasteur’s original flasks keeping germs out? Have a look at the bottom of this page by the Pasteur Institute

You can do Louis Pasteur’s experiment for yourself with the right supplies. This article on how to do it at Biology Junction is worth the read even if you don’t have a lab.

There’s also an interesting 7 minute video about the Swan Flask Experiment at the Education Portal.

Did you notice how much these pages sound like creationists? The people who believed in spontaneous generation are rightly seen as ignorant of reality.

I found a lot of information for this post in the Answers Research Journal article by Alan L. Gillen and Frank J. Sherwin III: Louis Pasteur’s Views on Creation, Evolution, and the Genesis of Germs

Want to see Pasteur’s thoughts on evolution and the origin of life for yourself? Check out this speech he gave in 1864.

Casita volcano mudslide, WikiCommons

Episode 4: Dry Land Erosion, Kitchen Experiments

Casita volcano mudslide, WikiCommons

Why did God double up on the work He did on Day 3 of Creation Week? Want to hear some of our favorite kitchen science experiments? Check out this week’s episode of the Creation Science 4 Kids show!

Episode 4 Direct Link

Find out how to listen any time anywhere HERE


Everything God does is for a good reason and we are wise to pay attention to even the tiniest details in Scripture. The world today is full of the effects of dry land being exposed to weather without full plant cover, but this wasn’t how God set things up in the beginning.

As I pointed out in another article, God can use even really bad things to make beauty, but before sin, the world would have be able to support far more life and be a much safer place to live.

You can have a look at the pictures I showed my cohosts by plugging “mudslide erosion” into GoodSearch.


Badland near Barcelonnette, Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur, France


Most web searches take you to the ones in South Dakota, which are cool.

There are more in Taiwan (all I could find outside of Wikipedia was a good picture)

Argentina, Valley of the Moon (be sure to have a look at the rock spheres there!)

New Zealand, “Putangirua Pinnacles” (I couldn’t find a good page for them, just plug in the search terms to see lots of pictures, especially if you’re a Tolkien fan)


Bryce Canyon is world famous for their pillars of softer rock capped by harder stones. We know they formed by water washing away the surrounding rock.

Drumheller Area. Again, I couldn’t find a good page, so plug in Drumheller Hoodoos)

Kitchen Experiments

It doesn’t take much to turn “messing around” in the kitchen into a science experiment. We borrowed some books from the library, picked ones that we had the materials for, and did them.

The trick is to turn on your brain first. Try to picture what you think will happen and why. Then watch for how reality matches up. It can be surprising! Even if you expect something like what happens, the power of natural laws to cause effects can be amazing.

Backyard Microscope

Backyard Microscope, where intelligence meets design

You can have a look at this new and rapidly expanding website HERE

They have a YouTube channel set up and you can friend them on facebook, too.

Grownups, you’ll want to find out more about the creator of this website and all he’s had to deal with by searching “Mark Armitage” on Search I first heard him on the Real Science Radio show. He’s got quite a story and I’m thrilled he’s doing something so positive for the next generation of scientists!

Rejoicing in the habitable part of his earth; and my delights were with the sons of men. Now therefore hearken unto me, O ye children: for blessed are they that keep my ways. Proverbs 8:31-32