(June 19, 1623 – August 19, 1662)
Blaise Pascal was a child prodigy with extraordinary flair for mathematics. He gained attention while still a teenager, by propounding his famous Pascal’s Theorem which he subsequently proved. Also, his mastery of calculative algorithms enabled him devise mechanical calculators before turning 20 years. Although Wilhelm Schickard developed the first prototypes (in Germany) few years before Pascal was born, his designs were cumbersome and had very limited uses. Thus, he suspended the project. Unaware of Schickard’s designs, Pascal perfected gadgets which circumvented those problems: earning recognition as one of the inventors of what became the forerunner of modern calculators and computers. With interests in science, religion and philosophy, Pascal exchanged ideas with the great minds of his era: corresponding with Pierre de Fermat on topics like Probability Theory and Geometric Transformations. Their excellent partnership provoked sardonic remarks from an envious René Descartes. Notwithstanding, Paul Dirac would use the basis of this Projective Geometry (about 250 years after Pascal’s death) to develop the concepts of Quantum Mechanics which won him accolades. Pascal’s proficiencies in logic, mathematics, physics, and engineering continued to amaze his contemporaries. Adept works on hydrodynamics, pressure and vacuums led him to invent the hydraulic press and the syringe: both of which are still widely used. His acclaimed treatises (such as: De L’Esprit Géométrique, Essai pour les Coniques, and Traité du Triangle Arithmétique) nurtured Christiaan Huygens’ career. And when a young Gottfried Leibniz sought higher scientific knowledge, his then tutor Huygens (who venerated Pascal’s virtuosity) recommended Pascal’s publications for him.