Biographies

Blaise Pascal, pressure and calculators

Blaise Pascal, pressure and calculators

Blaise Pascal was a French philosopher, mathematician and physicist, considered one of the privileged minds in the intellectual history of the West.

He was the first to establish the basis of what current calculators and computers would be. He also made important contributions to the theory of probability, investigated fluids and clarified concepts about pressure and vacuum.

He was born in Clermont-Ferrand on June 19, 1623, and his family settled in Paris in 1629. Under his father's tutelage, Pascal soon manifested himself as a prodigy in mathematics, and at the age of 16 he formulated one of the theorems Basics of projective geometry, known as Pascal's theorem and described in his essay on conics.

Pascal invented the first calculator, to help his father with the accounts. The machine, called Pascalina, was similar to the mechanical calculators of 1940. The design of this calculator was complicated, because at that time, the currency in France did not follow the decimal system. 50 machines were manufactured, but they did not sell very well and stopped being manufactured.

In 1647 he demonstrated that there was a vacuum and in 1648 he found that the atmospheric pressure decreased as the height increased. Pascal demonstrated through an experiment that the level of a barometer's mercury column is determined by the increase or decrease in surrounding atmospheric pressure. This discovery verified the hypothesis of the Italian physicist Evangelista Torricelli regarding the effect of atmospheric pressure on the balance of liquids.

Six years later, along with the French mathematician Pierre de FermatPascal formulated the mathematical theory of probability, which has become of great importance in actuarial, mathematical and social statistics, as well as a fundamental element in the calculations of modern theoretical physics.

Other important Pascal scientific contributions are the deduction of the so-called "Pascal principle", which states that liquids transmit pressures with the same intensity in all directions, and their research on infinitesimal quantities. Pascal believed that human progress was stimulated with the accumulation of scientific discoveries.

He was one of the most eminent mathematicians and physicists of his time. He was greatly influenced by religion, he even wrote articles on religion and in defense of the Jansenists who opposed the Jesuits.

Blaise Pascal died on August 19, 1662 in Paris, at 39, because of a brain tumor.

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