Pascal 1623 - 1662 (39)

The heart has its reasons of which reason knows nothing.



Blaise Pascal (1623-1662) was a French mathematician, physicist and philosopher, one of the most important scientists of his time. He was born on June 19, 1623 in Clermont, the third of four children and the only son of a wealthy judge and tax collector, passionate about mathematics. His mother died when he was three years old, at the birth of his sister.

In 1632 the father took his children and settled in Paris, having the incomprehensible idea that his son should not come into contact with mathematics until he was 15 years old. From the age of 12, Blaise found a way to study Euclid's geometry, discovering by himself that the sum of the angles of a triangle is equal to two right angles. Impressed by his performance, his father changed his mind and started taking Blaise to meetings with a famous mathematical monk, whose house had become a meeting place for scientists of the time. At such a meeting in June 1639, at the age of just 16, Pascal had the opportunity to present his first work, a series of projection theories of geometry (about conic sections - Pascal's theorem), including Pascal's mystical hexagon.

In December 1639 the family settled in Rouen, where the father had been appointed tax collector for Upper Normandy. Shortly after settling in Rouen, Pascal wrote his first work, The Essay on Cones, published in February 1640.

Wanting to help his father collect taxes, from 1642 to 1645 Pascal worked to build a calculator called "Pascalina". The device looked like a mechanical calculator from the 1940s. Pascal tried to promote the sale of his calculator, 50 prototypes were made, but he did not make big sales and eventually, the prdduction of th emachine stopped. (People continued to practice with the abacus, as the machine was very expensive for the time).

From May 1653 he worked systematically in mathematics and physics, resulting in the book "Processing on fluid balance", in which he explains in detail the law of pressure (Pascal's law or Pascal's principle). In 1654 he published his work One of his best-known mathematical studies, on what we call the "Pascal Triangle" or simply the "arithmetic triangle", which laid the foundations for Combinatorics and Probability Calculus.

Despite the serious health problems he had since he was 20 years old with severe headaches, he continued to work intensively on solving mathematical problems until October 1654. At that time he was in serious danger of losing his life in an accident with his carriage. The accident as well as the death of his father in September 1651 played a role in bringing him closer to the Christian religion. In 1654 he announced that he had the experience of a mystical vision and retired to a convent, 30 km west of Paris, where he devoted himself to theological and philosophical studies.

From 1654 he worked on a project in support of Christianity, in which he tried to transfer the laws of Logic to the Christian religion, but failed to complete it, probably due to his deteriorating health, or because there were impasses in his argument that were impossible to overcome, according to Bertrand Russell Pascal died in Paris on August 19, 1662, at the age of just 39. His death came from a malignant tumor in his stomach that had reached his head.