Biography of Blaise Pascal

Blaise Pascal was a famous French mathematician who invented a mechanical counting machine.

Childhood and early years

Blaise Pascal was born June 19, 1623 in Clermont-Ferrand. His father, Etienne Pascal, was a local judge and representative of the “Nobility of the Mantle.” His father was famous for his interest in science, including mathematics. Pascal’s mother, Antoinette Bejoe, died when the boy was barely three years old. Blaise had two sisters, Jacqueline and Gilbert. In 1631 the family moved to Paris. The father will never marry again, but instead will devote his whole life to the education of children, and especially Blaise, who showed great talent for the sciences. As early as eleven, the younger Pascal surprised his father with his mathematical abilities, writing a short note on the sound of vibrating bodies. A year later, the boy himself proves that the sum of the angles of a triangle is equal to two right angles. Struck by such interest in science, father takes his son to a meeting of outstanding mathematicians and scholars, held in the monastic cell of Father Mersenne. At the meeting there are such brilliant minds as Roberval, Desargue, Miraj, Gassendi and Descartes.

At the age of sixteen, Pascal wrote a small treatise, The Mystic Hexagram, based on the work of Desargues on the topic of conic sections. This little work will later lead to Pascal’s famous theorem that if a hexagon is inscribed in a circle, then the points of intersection of the three pairs of opposite sides lie on one straight line. When Desargue was presented with this work, he is in complete confidence that the work belongs to the father, and not to the son. When Mersenne convinces him of the opposite, Desargues apologizes. And at this time, in 1631, Pascal’s father, Etienne, sells his position as the second chairman of the Supreme Court of Appeal of France for 65,665 livres and invests the money in government bonds, which brings the family a solid income. Then the family moves to Paris. But in 1638 Etienne Pascal, acting against the fiscal policy of the former then in power of Cardinal Richelieu, forced to flee the city. Blaise and his sisters remain in the care of a good neighbor, Madame Sencto. After resolving all disagreements with the cardinal, in 1639 Etienne Pascal was appointed the royal collector of the taxes of Rouen.

To facilitate his father’s hard work and save him from tedious calculations and recalculations of arrears and actually paid taxes, in 1642 Pascal Jr. creates a mechanical calculating machine. This machine, called the creator of the counting machine Pascal or “Pascalina”, was able to produce simple actions of addition and subtraction. However, because of the high cost and size, financial success to the creator of “Pascalin” does not bring, but it becomes something of a sign of distinction among the cream of the society of France and Europe. But Pascal, with the firm intention of establishing a mass production of his invention, devotes the next ten years to improving the form and constructing about twenty computers. Today, two original counting machines can be seen in the “Museum of Arts and Crafts”

Contribution to mathematics and other sciences

All his life, Pascal remained an influential mathematician. Its convenient representation of binomial coefficients in the form of a table, set forth in the Treatise on the Arithmetic of a Triangle, which was published in 1653, will be called the “triangle of Pascal.”

In 1654, his friend, a gambler Chevalier de Mere, turned to the scientist with a request to help solve the problems arising in the game, and Pascal, having become interested, discusses this question with the mathematician Fermat,...

which leads to the emergence of a mathematical theory of probability. One of the possible situations described in the game was the following: two players want to finish the game ahead of schedule and, considering the conditions at the moment, they want to honestly divide the stake at stake, based on the premise that, at the moment, the chances of defeating them are equal. Based on these data, Pascal uses a random argument, called the “Pascal rate”. The work done by Pascal and Fermat will help Leibniz to deduce the formula of infinitesimal calculus. Pascal contributed to the philosophy of mathematics, writing the work “Spirit of geometry” and “

The scientist’s contribution to the development of physical science is his work on hydrodynamics and hydrostatics, based mainly on hydraulic laws. Following the theories of Galileo and Toricelli, he disputes Aristotle’s assertion that creation is of a material nature, whether visible or invisible. Pascal argues that in any matter there is a vacuum. He proves that it is the vacuum that moves the mercury in the barometer and even fills the space above the substance in the mercury column. The results of his practical experiments Pascal in 1647, sets out in his work “The latest experiments on the vacuum.” These experiments, which made furore in the whole of Europe, derive Pascal’s law and prove the use of the barometer.

Late years

In the winter of 1646, Pascal’s father slipped on the ice that held the streets of Rouen, and, falling, was severely injured. The condition was critical, and Dr. Deland and la Buteyleery were taken for his treatment. These talented doctors were followers of Jean Gilbert’s ideas – and the Jansenists. From them Pascal learns about this movement, and even takes from them literature on this issue. For this period, the first splash of his religiousness is necessary. The death of his father in 1657 and the subsequent departure of his sister Jacqueline to the Jansenist monastery of Port Royal leave a deep impression in Pascal’s soul and worsen his state of health. On the fateful day of October 1654, Pascal is a hair’s breadth from death, when on horseback Neyi the horses jumped through the parapet, almost drawing the scientist’s crew, hanging on the very edge of the abyss. Pascal and the friend riding in the carriage remain alive,

In January 1655 Pascal went to the monastery of Port Royal, and, since then, for several years, he lives between Port Royal and Paris. This immersion in faith gives rise to his first known religious work, “Provincial Notes,” in which he subjects witty criticism to theological sophistry. The book successfully combines the zeal of a believer and the wit and gloss of a secular man. This collection, consisting of 18 individual letters, Pascal publishes between 1656 and 1657 under the pseudonym of Louis de Montal. “Provincial notes” are enraged by Louis XIV, and the Jansenist school at Port Royal is closed, referring to disagreements in the interpretation of church dogma. Even Pope Alexander VII, impressed by the weighty arguments cited by the author in the book, publicly condemns Pascal’s work.


Since the age of eighteen, Pascal has suffered from a nervous system that has caused him frequent pain. Since 1647, after a paralytic fit, he can move only on crutches, his head is constantly hurting, everything is burning with fire inside, and his hands and feet are always cold. In 1659, the disease takes over him, and, within the next three years, the condition will only worsen. Another blow is the death of Jacqueline in 1661 August 18, 1662 Pascal soborovali, and the next morning, August 19, the great scientist died.

Biography of Blaise Pascal