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Famous Mathematician: Blaise Pascal

Pascal's Work And Inventions

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Blaise Pascal
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The Pascaline
The idea of using machines to solve mathematical problems can be traced at least as far as the early 17th century. Mathematicians who designed and implemented calculators that were capable of addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division included Wilhelm Schickhard, Blaise Pascal, and Gottfried Leibnitz. In 1642, at the age of eighteen Blaise Pascal invented his numerical wheel calculator called the Pascaline to help his father a French tax collector count taxes. The Pascaline had eight movable dials that added up to eight figured long sums and used base ten. When the first dial (one's column) moved ten notches - the second dial moved one notch to represent the ten's column reading of 10 - and when the ten dial moved ten notches the third dial (hundred's column) moved one notch to represent one hundred and so on.

Thoughts (1670)
Written during the last years of Pascal's life, this collection of short essays and sayings were the working notes for a work of Christian apologetics which aimed to use psychology and history rather than metaphysical argument. They provide the fullest account of Pascal's religious thought - man's weakness and hopelessness without God, his hatred of boredom and enslavement to meaningless distraction, man's glory with God and the authority of the Bible, prophecy, and faith.

Provincial Letters (1657)
A series of letters Pascal wrote under a false name that viciously mock the controversy over 'immediate power' in salvation and the Jesuit practice of casuistry. The letters expose the absurdities of casuistry that allow priests to kill and the cunning word games the Jesuit played to condemn belief against their opponents. The letters became wildly popular due to their satire of church authority. The letters are considered a model for French prose due to their wit and liveliness.

Pascal Triangle
Even though Blaise Pascal was not the first person to work on the Pascal triangle - the Chinese and Islamic mathematicians used it more than 500 years before, his Treatise on the Arithmetical Triangle in 1653 was famous for being the first extensive study of it.

1

1

1

1

1

1

1

1

1

1

1

2

3

4

5

6

7

8

9

 

1

3

6

10

15

21

28

36

 

 

1

4

10

20

35

56

84

 

 

 

1

5

15

35

70

126

 

 

 

 

1

6

21

56

126

 

 

 

 

 

1

7

28

84

 

 

 

 

 

 

1

8

36

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

1

9

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

1

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

It is clear from the above table that any number in the above table is equal to the sum of the numbers above it and on its left - with the exception of the first row and the first column where every number is one.

Roulette Machine
Blaise Pascal introduced a very primitive version of the roulette machine in the 17th century. The roulette was a by-product of Blaise Pascal's attempts to invent a uninterrupted motion machine.

Wrist Watch
The first reported person to actually wear a watch on the wrist was the French mathematician and philosopher, Blaise Pascal. With a piece of string, he attached his pocket watch to his wrist.
 

Pascal (Pa) 
Unit of atmospheric pressure named in honor of Blaise Pascal, whose experiments greatly increased knowledge of the atmosphere. A pascal is the force of one newton acting on a surface area of one square meter. It is the unit of pressure designated by the International System. l00,OOO Pa= 1000mb 1 bar

Pascal
Blaise Pascal's contribution to computing was recognized by computer scientist Nicklaus Wirth, who in 1972 named his new computer language Pascal (and insisted that it be spelled Pascal, not PASCAL).

The Pascaline
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A Roulette Machine
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The Provincial Letters
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A Section From The Pensees
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A Page Of Pascal's Notes
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