Blaise Pascal was born in Clermont (now Clermont-Ferrand) in
France, on 19th June 1623. His mother, Antoinette Begon, died when he was
three; and his father, Etienne, who was a local judge with a scientific
reputation, brought him up. The Pascal senior retired and moved to Paris
in 1631 to concentrate on his own scientific research and to take care
of his son, Blaise, and his two daughters, Gilberte and Jacqueline. Etienne
had an unconventional view of education and decided to tutor his only son
himself. The elder Pascal locked up all the mathematics texts in the house
because he believed that it is too exciting for young minds to be studying
mathematics before the age of 15 and he was not going to sap his gifted
childís energy from all other pursuits. At age 12, Blaise was curious about
geometry and deduced as far as Proposition 32 of Euclidís Elements ( the
sum of angles of a triangle are two right angles ) by himself without any
mathematics training. When his father found out, Blaise was allowed to
read his fatherís mathematics books, because his father knew that he couldnít
stop his genius son anymore.
The young Pascal began to participate with his father in Mersenneís
Circle, a weekly discussion group of scientists and mathematicians. In
this plantation of intellects, he learned from Girard Desargues, who had
just published a projective geometry book but was not well received because
of the difficult vocabulary and style. Pascal was one of the few to appreciate
his work. When he was 16, he presented a projective geometry paper at the
meeting about what is now called the "mystic hexagon" which impressed everyone.
One of his sisters wrote an account of her brotherís life saying that the
paper was so well received that young Pascal was considered to be the best
mathematican since the time of Archimedes. In the next year, Blaise had
to suspend his association with the geometrians in the Mersenneís Circle
because he and his sisters had to move to Rouen where his father was appointed
as a royal tax official in Upper Normandy.
Blaise Pascal was a genius with many talents. He was known in his day
and ours as a mathematician and physicist, was also a spiritual writer.
In this paper, we will focus on his mathematics accomplishments: