Pascal's Home Page

Importance of Life

Blaise Pascal
French philosopher, mathematician, and physicist
Date Baptized: June 19, 1623
Death: August 19, 1662

Place of Birth: Clermont-Ferrand, France

Known For:

Deriving Pascal's law, which states that pressure exerted upon a liquid is transmitted equally in all directions
Proving experimentally that the height of the mercury column in a barometer depends on the surrounding air pressure
Proving experimentally that the height of the mercury column in a barometer depends on the surrounding air pressure
Proving experimentally that the height of the mercury column in a barometer depends on the surrounding air pressure
Formulating the mathematical theory of probability with French mathematician Pierre de Fermat
Inventing the first mechanical adding machine

Career

1639: Published, at the age of sixteen, Essai pour les coniques (Essay on Conics), a mathematical work describing one of the basic theorems of projective geometry
1642 Invented a mechanical calculator to assist his father, a tax commissioner
1648 Arranged for a barometer to be carried up a mountain, to demonstrate that the level of mercury is dependent upon the surrounding air pressure
1654 Proved what is known as Pascal's law, which states that pressure exerted upon a liquid is transmitted equally in all directions
1654 Traded most of his mathematical pursuits for theological ones as a result of a religious epiphany
1656-1657 Defended Jansenism, a movement of religious reform in the Roman Catholic church, from Jesuit criticism in Lettres Provinciales

Did You Know?

Pascal invented the syringe and the hydraulic press.
Pascal devoted his last years to Jansenism, a religious movement that emphasized predestination, denied free will, and maintained that human nature is incapable of good. He lived in a Jansenist community and actively defended the movement.