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Blaise Pascal was a French mathematician, physicist and religious philosopher, who laid the foundation for the modern theory of probabilities.
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Mathematician Blaise Pascal was born on June 19, 1623, in Clermont-Ferrand, France. In 1642, he invented the Pascaline, an early calculator. Also in the 1640s, he validated Torricelli's theory concerning the cause of barometrical variations. In the 1650s, Pascal laid the foundation of probability theory and published the theological works Pénsees and Provinciales. Pascal died in Paris on August 19, 1662.
Inventor, mathematician, physicist and theological writer Blaise Pascal, born on June 19, 1623 in Clermont-Ferrand, France, was the third child and only son to Etienne and Antoinette Pascal. His mother, Antoinette, passed away when he was just a toddler. He was exceptionally close to his two older sisters, Gilberte and Jacqueline. His father, Etienne, was a tax collector and a talented mathematician.
Etienne moved the family to Paris in 1631. There, he decided to educate Blaise—a child prodigy—himself so he could design his own unorthodox curriculum and make sure that Blaise didn't work too hard. Ironically, Etienne entirely omitted mathematics from Blaise’s early curriculum. Etienne was concerned that Blaise would become so fascinated with geometry that he wouldn’t be unable to focus on classical subjects. The beginning of Blaise’s education in Paris was geared toward languages, especially Latin and Greek. Even so, Etienne's plan backfired: The fact that mathematics was a forbidden topic made the subject even more interesting to the inquisitive boy, who at the age of 12 began exploring geometry on his own. He even made up his own terminology, not having learned the official terms. The prodigy quickly managed to work out that the sum of a triangle's angles are equal to two right angles.
Etienne was impressed. In answer to Blaise's unswerving fascination, his father permitted him to read Euclid. Etienne also at last allowed Blaise to accompany him to meetings at the mathematics academy in Paris. It was there, at age 16, that Blaise presented a number of his early theorems, including his "mystical hexagon." Blaise could not have asked for a better audience; in attendance were some of the premier mathematical thinkers of the time, including Marin Mersenne, Pierre Gassendi and Clyde Mydorge, to name a few.
In 1640, the Pascal family drew up stakes once again. They moved to Rouen, France, where Blaise's father had been appointed to collect taxes. Within just a year of moving, Blaise published his first written work, Essay on Conic Sections. The essay constituted an important leap forward in projective geometry, which involved transferring a 3-D object onto a 2-D field.
In 1646, Etienne was seriously injured in an accident that rendered him housebound. The accident created a shift in the whole family's religious beliefs. The Pascals had never fully embraced the local Jesuits' ideas. After Etienne's accident, a visit from a group of Jansenists led the family to convert to that belief system. During the year that Etienne convalesced, two Jansenist brothers watched over Blaise.
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