Blaise Pascal Biography 1623-1662 - was born in Clermont-Ferrand, France

- father was a noble of the robe and judge

- was educated by his father in science and mathematics

- child prodigy in mathematics Work in Mathematics as a Child Prodigy - at the age of 16, Pascal produced a treatise on conic sections, "Essai pour les coniques" or "Essay on Conics", which was sent to Père Mersenne in Paris, who showed it to Rene Descartes

- Descartes dismissed it, saying "I do not find it strange that he has offered demonstrations about conics more appropriate than those of the ancients," adding, "but other matters related to this subject can be proposed that would scarcely occur to a sixteen-year-old child." Pascal's Triangle - in 1653, in "Treatise on the Arithmetical Triangle", he created Pascal's triangle, which was a simple way to represent binomial coefficients Pascal's Barrel - Pascal inserted a 33 foot tube into a barrel and poured water into the tube. The resultant pressure from the water caused the barrel to burst

- proved hydrostatic pressure was based on height difference rather than weight of the fluid, now Pascal's Law Pascal's Inventions Based on his Barrel Experiment - hydraulic press, which would be used by Joseph Bramah to develop a modern flush toilet

- syringe, used for vaccinations and other injections Probability Theory - after being asked by a friend with gambling problems, Pascal worked with Pierre de Fermat to create the theory of probability

- set up established rules for finding out the chances of certain things occurring in a situation Conversion to Jansenism - converted in 1646 when his father broke his hip, nearly died and was saved by Jansenist doctors

- in 1651, five years later, his father died, and his sister took two thirds of his inheritance and fled to the convent in Port-Royal

- had an intense religious vision and fervently supported Jansenism

- wrote "The Provincial Letters", and criticized casuistry, a use of complex excuses as a method to justify amorality and sin

- was considered a heretical work, with Louis XIV ordering the book burned and Jansenism condemned, while the pope issued a bull that Jansenism was heretical The Pensées - was published after his death

- is a defense of the Christian religion through coherent examination

- considered a French literary masterpiece

- the famous Pascal's Wager argument was published in the book arguing for belief in God The logic of Pascal's Wager Pascal's Calculator - first mechanical calculator ever made

- originally made for the purpose of calculating taxes

- was very expensive and could only be afforded by wealthy scholarly nobles and kings Legacy - Pascal is the name of a metric unit of measure, a programming language, and used in Pascal's law, Pascal's triangle, and Pascal's wager

- probability theory is used for explanations and predictions in modern economic theory

- probability theory would be used by Newton and Leibniz in development of infinitesimal calculus

- sarcastic and humorous literary style would influence Voltaire and Jean Jacques-Rousseau

- would start an interest in mechanical calculation that would lead to the modern computer The Vacuum and Invisible Matter - Aristotle believed that everything was matter, visible or invisible

- Evangelista Torricelli had invented the barometer a few years before

- the explanation of the empty space by the mercury was explained by most scientists as being invisible matter

- In "New Experiments with the Vacuum", Pascal proved through superior reasoning that the empty space was indeed a vacuum, having no matter occupying it

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# Blaise Pascal

Uber math