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Blaise Pascal

Blaise Pascal Grade 11 Math Essay – Blaise Pascal by Toni Lintunen Introduction Blaise Pascal was born on June 19, 1623 in Clermont Ferrand. His nationality was french. He died in 1662. He was credited for his imaginative and subtle work in geometry and other branches of mathematics. His work influenced later generations of theologians and philosophers, helping make mathematics what it is today.

Blaise Pascal is considered part of the foundation of the very heart of mathematics. History At age 12 he mastered Euclid’s Elements. In 1645, he invented and sold the first adding machine. His study of hydrostatics led to the invention of the syringe and hydraulic press. At age 16, he formulated the basic theorems of projective geometry. These theorems became known as Pascal’s theorem. He proved that the level of mercury column in a barometer is determined by the increase or decrease in the surrounding atmospheric pressure.

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This discovery verified the hypothesis of the Italian physicist Evangelista Torricelli, concerning the effect of atmospheric pressure on the equilibrium of liquids. After publishing Essay pour les coniques (Essay on conic sections), Pascal temporarily abandoned the study of mathematics due to poor health. He lived in Paris for a while in a frivolous manner as a break. His interest in probability theory of the odds in gambling games lead him to discover the Theory of probability in conjunction with Pierre de Fermat. This theory dealt with the actuarial, mathematical, social statistics, and calculations used in today’s modern theoretical physics.

At the end of 1654, after several months of depression, Pascal had a life altering religious experience. He entered the Jansenist monastery in Port Royal. Here, he never published his own name again in his mathematical studies. He wrote a pseudonym to help in the struggle against the Jesuits for the defense of the Jansenist, Antoine Arnauld. In 1658, he broke with the Jansenists, and left the monastery. Pascal died on August 19, 1662 from cancer, at age 39. In his life, his most famous work was perhaps Pensees (thoughts).

This was a set of deeply personal meditations in a somewhat fragmented form on human suffering and faith in God. Another famous work of his was called “Pascal’s Wager.” This expressed the conviction that belief in God is rational: If God does not exist, one stands to lose nothing by believing in him anyway, whereas if he does exist, one stands to lose everything by not believing. Pascal’s Gears Pascal’s Gears were the first mechanical computing machine ever invented. It was invented in 1642. This machine consisted of a series of interlocking discs and gears, hence the name Pascal’s Gears.

Each gear had one of the digits from 0 to 9 engraved on it. A complete turn of any gear caused the gear to its left to make one-tenth of a turn, displaying the next highest number. This mechanism was used in calculators and adding machines up until the 1960’s. The concept of Pascal’s Gears is still being used today in mechanical car odometers. Pascal’s Law This was perhaps his most important piece of work he has ever done. Written in 1653, it stated that in a fluid at rest, pressure on any surface exerts a force perpendicular to the surface and independent of the direction of orientation of the surface. The law is sometimes assumed to include the principle that any additional pressure applied to a fluid will be transmitted equally to every point in the fluid.

This law is the basis of machines involving hydraulic systems. Conclusion Pascal has proven to be a very unique individual in the time that he had lived. He discovered very essential concepts of mathematics making it the way it is today. At the same time, he dwelled in philosophical and religious ideas and concepts. One common trend in both areas he studied, is the use of logic. The use of logic, being the heart of mathematics, was the basis of his philosophical and religious aspects of his life.

These parts of his life revolved around logic and order. Logic, what answered his mathematical ponderings, also answered the questions he asked about life itself.


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