Pascal, Blaise

Pascal, Blaise
b. 19 June 1623 Clermont Ferrand, France
d. 19 August 1662 Paris, France
French mathematician, physicist and religious philosopher.
Pascal was the son of Etienne Pascal, President of the Court of Aids. His mother died when he was 3 years old and he was brought up largely by his two sisters, one of whom was a nun at Port Royal. They moved to Paris in 1631 and again to Rouen ten years later. He received no formal education. In 1654 he was involved in a carriage accident in which he saw a mystical vision of God and from then on confined himself to philosophical rather than scientific matters. In the field of mathematics he is best known for his work on conic sections and on the laws of probability. As a youth he designed a calculating machine of which, it is said, some seventy were made. His main contribution to technology was his elucidation of the laws of hydrostatics which formed the basis of all hydrostatic machines in subsequent years. Pascal, however, did not put these laws to any practical use: that was left to the English cabinet-maker and engineer Joseph Bramah more than a century later. Suffering from indifferent health, Pascal persuaded his brother-in-law Périer to repeat the experiments of Evangelista Torricelli on the pressure of the atmosphere. This involved climbing the 4,000 ft (1,220 m) of the Puy de Dôme, a mountain close to Clermont, with a heavy mercury-in-glass barometer. The experiment was reported in the 1647 pamphlet "Expériences nouvelles touchant le vide". The Hydrostatic Law was laid down by Pascal in Traité de l'équilibre des liqueurs, published a year after his death. In this he established the fact that in a fluid at rest the pressure is transmitted equally in all directions.
1647, "Expériences nouvelles touchant le vide". 1663, Traité de l'équilibre des liqueurs.
Further Reading
J.Mesnard, 1951, Pascal, His Life and Works.
I.McNeil, 1972, Hydraulic Power, London: Longmans.

Biographical history of technology. - Taylor & Francis e-Librar. . 2005.

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