Blaise Pascal
pascal.jpg

The Early Years
Blaise Pascal was born June 19, 1623 in Clermont. His mother died when he was only three years old, so his father packed up Blaise and his three sisters and headed off to Paris. Even as a child, Pascal showed signs of great intellect. Unfortunately his father felt language was most important and thus Pascal was secluded from the world of math until he was twelve. Blaise borrowed a math book from a tutor and started reading up on some basic geometry. One day while secretly studying at play time, he proved the sum of all angles in a triangle adds to 180°. He cut the three corners off the triangle and put them together to form a straight line, or 180° angle. His father, extremely impressed, found this proof lying on the floor of Pascal’s room so he decided to let him pursue his math studies further.

Life Work
At sixteen, Pascal was attending weekly meetings with his father and other French mathematicians. In this year he presented a sheet full projective geometry theorems, included in this was Pascal’s hexagon. From 1642-1644 he invested himself in inventing the first digital calculating machine. In 1646 Pascal converted to Jansenism, a Roman Catholic religion. Blaise’s further studies in geometry, hydrodynamics, and hydrostatic and atmospheric pressure helped him to invent the hydraulic press and the syringe. He also came up with the arithmetic triangle, which anyone in a mathematical field has investigated at some point in their life.

pascal.hex2.gif
(a + b)10 = 1a10b0 + 10 a9b1 +45 a8b2 +120 a7b3 + 210 a6b4 +252 a5b5 +210 a4b6 +120 a3b7 + 45 a2b8 +10 a1b9 +1 a0b10

If you want to expand (a + b)10, for example, go to the 11th row down (first row is labelled as 0). The terms of the expansion will all be of the form axby where x+y=10 and x and y are whole numbers between 0 and 10.Another use for this is that it gives you the number of different ways you can choose some of a collection of objects. If you have 10 objects and you want to choose 3 of them, go to the 10th row (start counting at 0) and the 3rd position in, again starting to count at 0 and you see that there are 120 different ways to choose 3 items from a collection of 10.

The Latter years
He died in Paris on August 19, 1662 at the age of thirty-nine. All the stress he had put on himself by constantly studying took a great toll on his body and contributed to his death. He also suffered from insomnia and acute dyspepsia from the age of seventeen or eighteen which also lead to his demise.

Bibliography
Blaise Pascal. Compton's by Britannica. Encyclopedia Britannica. 2005. eLibrary. Proquest CSA. THAMES VALLEY DISTRICT SCH BD. 24 Feb 2008. <http://elibrary.bigchalk.com/curriculumca>.

"Blaise Pascal." 01 Jan 1995. Archive New Media. eLibrary. Proquest CSA. THAMES VALLEY DISTRICT SCH BD. 24 Feb 2008. <http://elibrary.bigchalk.com/curriculumca>.

Pascal, Blaise (1623-1662). Hutchinson Unabridged Encyclopedia. Helicon Publishing. 2005. eLibrary. Proquest CSA. THAMES VALLEY DISTRICT SCH BD. 27 Feb 2008. <http://elibrary.bigchalk.com/curriculumca>.

W. W. Rouse Ball. ‘A Short Account of the History of Mathematics’ (4th edition, 1908). Retrieved February 24, 2008 from: http://www.maths.tcd.ie/pub/HistMath/People/Pascal/RouseBall/RB_Pascal.html

Add a New Comment
Unless otherwise stated, the content of this page is licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 License