Who is Blaise Pascal?December 14, 2020
He was a French mathematician, physicist and thinker who lived between 19 June 1623 and 19 August 1662.
Blaise Pascal, a French mathematician, physicist and theologian, was the third child and only son of Etienne Pascal, who was orphaned after his mother’s death when he was just three years old. In 1632, his father and his four children left Clermont and settled in Paris.
Since his father is an antiortodox, he decides to raise him himself. Etienne Pascal, himself one of the best mathematicians of his time, decides that his son should not study mathematics before the age of 15 and cleans his house of mathematics documents. But this just ignites little Pascal’s curiosity in mathematics, when he starts to study geometry at the age of 12. He finds that the sum of the angles of the triangle at that time is equal to the sum of the two right angles, upon which his father arms surrender and gives him documents containing Euclid’s theorems to study. In other words, his interest in mathematics starts without studying mathematics in his childhood, then he starts attending lectures in “Academie Parsienne” with his father, when he is 16 he takes an active role here and becomes the number one assistant and student of professor Girard Desargues. In the meantime, he publishes a booklet on the subject, especially by working on conics. In 1639 he contributed to geometry with “Pascal’s Enigmatic Hexagon”.
In the same year, when his father was appointed as a tax collector, they left Paris and settled in the city of Rouen. Here he made the first numerical calculator to help his father, and worked three years to do this, 1642-1645.
He made different experiments on atmospheric pressure in 1646-1648, and he came to the following conclusion: Atmospheric pressure falls in direct proportion to height and there is a vacuum above the atmosphere.
Working on mathematics and physics from 1653 onwards, he wrote a booklet on “The Instability of Fluids”, in which Pascal’s law of pressure is explained.
Although he was not the first mathematician to study binomial triangle, his work on this subject shed light on different developments.
Pascal’s most famous book on philosophy, “Pensées” (“Thoughts”), reveals his more religious side and belief in God on religion, life, science, and shows this by saying; “If God does not exist, one will lose nothing by believing in him, while if he does exist, one will lose everything by not believing.” (If there is no God, one will lose nothing by believing in him, but if there is, he will lose a lot by not believing.) This book was published a few years after his death, although it was not allowed to be published in his time.
Pascal passed away at the age of 39, succumbing to cancer in 1662.
He was a child prodigy trained by his father, a tax collector in Rouen. Pascal’s early work was in the field of natural sciences and applied sciences. During this period, he made a great contribution to the studies on fluids and generalized the work of Evangelista Torricelli and clarified the concepts of pressure and vacuum. At the same time, Pascal advocated the scientific method. Despite his youth in 1642, he pioneered some work on calculators. After three years of effort and fifty prototypes, he was one of the first two inventors of the mechanical calculator. Over the next decade, the Pascal calculator built 20 more of these machines, later called Pascaline.
Pascal was an important mathematician who helped create two main research topics. At the age of 16, he wrote a remarkable treatise on projective geometry, later matched Pierre de Fermat in probability theory and had a major influence on the development of modern economics and social sciences. Like Galileo and Torricelli, he refuted the followers of Aristotle in 1646, who argued that “the universe does not accept emptiness”. The results of Pascal’s work caused various discussions before being accepted. In 1646, he and his brother Jacqueline became identified with Catholic movements. His father died in 1651. Towards the end of 1654, he made impressive work in the field of philosophy and theology using his religious experience.
The two best-known works on the conflict between a Jansen disciple and the Jesuits are Lettres provinciales and Pensées from that period. In the same year, he wrote an important scientific work on the arithmetic triangle. Between 1658 and 1659 he wrote on cycloids and its use in calculating the volume of solids. Pascal’s health deteriorated especially after the age of 18, and he passed away 2 months after his 39th birthday.
Pascal (1623-1662) is an example of genius who manifested himself at an early age. He started drawing circles and equilateral triangles at the age of 12, even though he had no knowledge of geometry, and found to himself that the sum of the angles of a triangle equals two right angles; because his father, a lawyer and very interested in mathematics,