|Birth Day:||June 19, 1623|
|Death Date:||Aug 19, 1662 (age 39)|
|Birth Place:||Clermont-Ferrand, France|
|Height:||in centimeters - N/A|
|Weight:||in kg - N/A|
As per our current Database, Blaise Pascal died on Aug 19, 1662 (age 39).
His earliest contributions were in the applied and natural sciences where he focused on fluids and the concepts of pressure and vacuum, drawing from the work that had previously been done by Evangelista Torricelli.
In 1631, five years after the death of his wife, Étienne Pascal moved with his children to Paris. The newly arrived family soon hired Louise Delfault, a maid who eventually became an instrumental member of the family. Étienne, who never remarried, decided that he alone would educate his children, for they all showed extraordinary intellectual ability, particularly his son Blaise. The young Pascal showed an amazing aptitude for mathematics and science.
In France at that time offices and positions could be—and were—bought and sold. In 1631, Étienne sold his position as second president of the Cour des Aides for 65,665 livres. The money was invested in a government bond which provided, if not a lavish, then certainly a comfortable income which allowed the Pascal family to move to, and enjoy, Paris. But in 1638 Richelieu, desperate for money to carry on the Thirty Years' War, defaulted on the government's bonds. Suddenly Étienne Pascal's worth had dropped from nearly 66,000 livres to less than 7,300.
Like so many others, Étienne was eventually forced to flee Paris because of his opposition to the fiscal policies of Cardinal Richelieu, leaving his three children in the care of his neighbour Madame Sainctot, a great beauty with an infamous past who kept one of the most glittering and intellectual salons in all France. It was only when Jacqueline performed well in a children's play with Richelieu in attendance that Étienne was pardoned. In time, Étienne was back in good graces with the cardinal and in 1639 had been appointed the king's commissioner of taxes in the city of Rouen—a city whose tax records, thanks to uprisings, were in utter chaos.
In 1642, in an effort to ease his father's endless, exhausting calculations, and recalculations, of taxes owed and paid (into which work the young Pascal had been recruited), Pascal, not yet 19, constructed a mechanical calculator capable of addition and subtraction, called Pascal's calculator or the Pascaline. Of the eight Pascalines known to have survived, four are held by the Musée des Arts et Métiers in Paris and one more by the Zwinger museum in Dresden, Germany, exhibit two of his original mechanical calculators.
By 1647, Pascal had learned of Evangelista Torricelli's experimentation with barometers. Having replicated an experiment that involved placing a tube filled with mercury upside down in a bowl of mercury, Pascal questioned what force kept some mercury in the tube and what filled the space above the mercury in the tube. At the time, most scientists including Descartes believed in a plenum, i. e. some invisible matter filled all of space, rather than a vacuum. "Nature abhors a vacuum." This was based on the Aristotelian notion that everything in motion was a substance, moved by another substance. Furthermore, light passed through the glass tube, suggesting a substance such as aether rather than vacuum filled the space.
Following more experimentation in this vein, in 1647 Pascal produced Experiences nouvelles touchant le vide ("New experiments with the vacuum"), which detailed basic rules describing to what degree various liquids could be supported by air pressure. It also provided reasons why it was indeed a vacuum above the column of liquid in a barometer tube. This work was followed by Récit de la grande expérience de l'équilibre des liqueurs ("Account of the great experiment on equilibrium in liquids") published in 1648.
The Torricellian vacuum found that air pressure is equal to the weight of 30 inches of mercury. If air has a finite weight, Earth's atmosphere must have a maximum height. Pascal reasoned that if true, air pressure on a high mountain must be less than at a lower altitude. He lived near the Puy de Dôme mountain, 4,790 feet (1,460 m) tall, but his health was poor so could not climb it. On 19 September 1648, after many months of Pascal's friendly but insistent prodding, Florin Périer, husband of Pascal's elder sister Gilberte, was finally able to carry out the fact-finding mission vital to Pascal's theory. The account, written by Périer, reads:
Pascal fell away from this initial religious engagement and experienced a few years of what some biographers have called his "worldly period" (1648–54). His father died in 1651 and left his inheritance to Pascal and his sister Jacqueline, for whom Pascal acted as conservator. Jacqueline announced that she would soon become a postulant in the Jansenist convent of Port-Royal. Pascal was deeply affected and very sad, not because of her choice, but because of his chronic poor health; he needed her just as she had needed him.
By the end of October in 1651, a truce had been reached between brother and sister. In return for a healthy annual stipend, Jacqueline signed over her part of the inheritance to her brother. Gilberte had already been given her inheritance in the form of a dowry. In early January, Jacqueline left for Port-Royal. On that day, according to Gilberte concerning her brother, "He retired very sadly to his rooms without seeing Jacqueline, who was waiting in the little parlor..." In early June 1653, after what must have seemed like endless badgering from Jacqueline, Pascal formally signed over the whole of his sister's inheritance to Port-Royal, which, to him, "had begun to smell like a cult." With two-thirds of his father's estate now gone, the 29-year-old Pascal was now consigned to genteel poverty.
In 1654, prompted by his friend the Chevalier de Méré, he corresponded with Pierre de Fermat on the subject of gambling problems, and from that collaboration was born the mathematical theory of probabilities. The specific problem was that of two players who want to finish a game early and, given the current circumstances of the game, want to divide the stakes fairly, based on the chance each has of winning the game from that point. From this discussion, the notion of expected value was introduced. Pascal later (in the Pensées) used a probabilistic argument, Pascal's wager, to justify belief in God and a virtuous life. The work done by Fermat and Pascal into the calculus of probabilities laid important groundwork for Leibniz' formulation of the calculus.
In 1654, he proved Pascal's identity relating the sums of the p-th powers of the first n positive integers for p = 0, 1, 2, ..., k. That same year, Pascal had a religious experience, and mostly gave up work in mathematics.
For a while, Pascal pursued the life of a bachelor. During visits to his sister at Port-Royal in 1654, he displayed contempt for affairs of the world but was not drawn to God.
On the 23 of November, 1654, between 10:30 and 12:30 at night, Pascal had an intense religious experience and immediately wrote a brief note to himself which began: "Fire. God of Abraham, God of Isaac, God of Jacob, not of the philosophers and the scholars..." and concluded by quoting Psalm 119:16: "I will not forget thy word. Amen." He seems to have carefully sewn this document into his coat and always transferred it when he changed clothes; a servant discovered it only by chance after his death. This piece is now known as the Memorial. The story of a carriage accident as having led to the experience described in the Memorial is disputed by some scholars. His belief and religious commitment revitalized, Pascal visited the older of two convents at Port-Royal for a two-week retreat in January 1655. For the next four years, he regularly travelled between Port-Royal and Paris. It was at this point immediately after his conversion when he began writing his first major literary work on religion, the Provincial Letters.
In 1658, Pascal, while suffering from a toothache, began considering several problems concerning the cycloid. His toothache disappeared, and he took this as a heavenly sign to proceed with his research. Eight days later he had completed his essay and, to publicize the results, proposed a contest.
T. S. Eliot described him during this phase of his life as "a man of the world among ascetics, and an ascetic among men of the world." Pascal's ascetic lifestyle derived from a belief that it was natural and necessary for a person to suffer. In 1659, Pascal fell seriously ill. During his last years, he frequently tried to reject the ministrations of his doctors, saying, "Sickness is the natural state of Christians."
Beginning in 1656–57, Pascal published his memorable attack on casuistry, a popular ethical method used by Catholic thinkers in the early modern period (especially the Jesuits, and in particular Antonio Escobar). Pascal denounced casuistry as the mere use of complex reasoning to justify moral laxity and all sorts of sins. The 18-letter series was published between 1656 and 1657 under the pseudonym Louis de Montalte and incensed Louis XIV. The king ordered that the book be shredded and burnt in 1660. In 1661, in the midsts of the formulary controversy, the Jansenist school at Port-Royal was condemned and closed down; those involved with the school had to sign a 1656 papal bull condemning the teachings of Jansen as heretical. The final letter from Pascal, in 1657, had defied Alexander VII himself. Even Pope Alexander, while publicly opposing them, nonetheless was persuaded by Pascal's arguments.
Louis XIV suppressed the Jansenist movement at Port-Royal in 1661. In response, Pascal wrote one of his final works, Écrit sur la signature du formulaire ("Writ on the Signing of the Form"), exhorting the Jansenists not to give in. Later that year, his sister Jacqueline died, which convinced Pascal to cease his polemics on Jansenism. Pascal's last major achievement, returning to his mechanical genius, was inaugurating perhaps the first bus line, the carrosses à cinq sols, moving passengers within Paris in a carriage with many seats.
In 1662, Pascal's illness became more violent, and his emotional condition had severely worsened since his sister's death. Aware that his health was fading quickly, he sought a move to the hospital for incurable diseases, but his doctors declared that he was too unstable to be carried. In Paris on 18 August 1662, Pascal went into convulsions and received extreme unction. He died the next morning, his last words being "May God never abandon me," and was buried in the cemetery of Saint-Étienne-du-Mont.
The Pensées was not completed before his death. It was to have been a sustained and coherent examination and defense of the Christian faith, with the original title Apologie de la religion Chrétienne ("Defense of the Christian Religion"). The first version of the numerous scraps of paper found after his death appeared in print as a book in 1669 titled Pensées de M. Pascal sur la religion, et sur quelques autres sujets ("Thoughts of M. Pascal on religion, and on some other subjects") and soon thereafter became a classic.
The 1969 Eric Rohmer film My Night at Maud's is based on the work of Pascal. Roberto Rossellini directed a filmed biopic, Blaise Pascal, which originally aired on Italian television in 1971. Pascal was a subject of the first edition of the 1984 BBC Two documentary, Sea of Faith, presented by Don Cupitt. The chameleon in the film Tangled is named for Pascal.
A programming language is named for Pascal. In 2014, Nvidia announced its new Pascal microarchitecture, which is named for Pascal. The first graphics cards featuring Pascal were released in 2016.
The 2017 game Nier: Automata has multiple characters named after famous philosophers; one of these is a sentient pacifistic machine named Pascal, who serves as a major supporting character. Pascal creates a village for machines to live peacefully with the androids they're at war with and acts as a parental figure for other machines trying to adapt to their newly-found individuality.
Blaise's theorem was so advanced that many thought his father, a tax collector who provided the bulk of his son's education, had come up with it. Blaise grew up with two sisters named Gilberte and Jacqueline.
Currently, Blaise Pascal is 399 years, 5 months and 16 days old. Blaise Pascal will celebrate 400th birthday on a Monday 19th of June 2023. Below we countdown to Blaise Pascal upcoming birthday.
The Trinity Forum
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