Blaise Pascal
Blaise Pascal was a French
French people
The French are a nation that share a common French culture and speak the French language as a mother tongue. Historically, the French population are descended from peoples of Celtic, Latin and Germanic origin, and are today a mixture of several ethnic groups...

A mathematician is a person whose primary area of study is the field of mathematics. Mathematicians are concerned with quantity, structure, space, and change....

, physicist
A physicist is a scientist who studies or practices physics. Physicists study a wide range of physical phenomena in many branches of physics spanning all length scales: from sub-atomic particles of which all ordinary matter is made to the behavior of the material Universe as a whole...

, inventor, writer
A writer is a person who produces literature, such as novels, short stories, plays, screenplays, poetry, or other literary art. Skilled writers are able to use language to portray ideas and images....

 and Catholic
The word catholic comes from the Greek phrase , meaning "on the whole," "according to the whole" or "in general", and is a combination of the Greek words meaning "about" and meaning "whole"...

 philosopher. He was a child prodigy
Child prodigy
A child prodigy is someone who, at an early age, masters one or more skills far beyond his or her level of maturity. One criterion for classifying prodigies is: a prodigy is a child, typically younger than 18 years old, who is performing at the level of a highly trained adult in a very demanding...

 who was educated by his father, a tax collector in Rouen
Rouen , in northern France on the River Seine, is the capital of the Haute-Normandie region and the historic capital city of Normandy. Once one of the largest and most prosperous cities of medieval Europe , it was the seat of the Exchequer of Normandy in the Middle Ages...

. Pascal's earliest work was in the natural and applied science
Science is a systematic enterprise that builds and organizes knowledge in the form of testable explanations and predictions about the universe...

s where he made important contributions to the study of fluid
In physics, a fluid is a substance that continually deforms under an applied shear stress. Fluids are a subset of the phases of matter and include liquids, gases, plasmas and, to some extent, plastic solids....

s, and clarified the concepts of pressure
Pressure is the force per unit area applied in a direction perpendicular to the surface of an object. Gauge pressure is the pressure relative to the local atmospheric or ambient pressure.- Definition :...

 and vacuum
In everyday usage, vacuum is a volume of space that is essentially empty of matter, such that its gaseous pressure is much less than atmospheric pressure. The word comes from the Latin term for "empty". A perfect vacuum would be one with no particles in it at all, which is impossible to achieve in...

 by generalizing the work of Evangelista Torricelli
Evangelista Torricelli
Evangelista Torricelli was an Italian physicist and mathematician, best known for his invention of the barometer.-Biography:Evangelista Torricelli was born in Faenza, part of the Papal States...

. Pascal also wrote in defense of the scientific method
Scientific method
Scientific method refers to a body of techniques for investigating phenomena, acquiring new knowledge, or correcting and integrating previous knowledge. To be termed scientific, a method of inquiry must be based on gathering empirical and measurable evidence subject to specific principles of...


In 1642, while still a teenager, he started some pioneering work on calculating machines, and after three years of effort and 50 prototypes he invented the mechanical calculator
Mechanical calculator
A mechanical calculator is a device used to perform the basic operations of arithmetic. Mechanical calculators are comparable in size to small desktop computers and have been rendered obsolete by the advent of the electronic calculator....


L'homme n'est ni ange ni bête, et le malheur veut que qui veut faire l'ange fait la bête.

Laf. 678

It is not permitted to the most equitable of men to be a judge in his own cause.

Pensées (1670) Chapter 4, I

For as old age is that period of life most remote from infancy, who does not see that old age in this universal man ought not to be sought in the times nearest his birth, but in those most remote from it?

Preface to the Treatise on Vacuum

Habit is a second nature and it destroys the first.

Pensées (1670) No. 376