Blaise Pascal (June 19, 1623, Clermont-Ferrand – August 19, 1662, Paris) was a French mathematician, physicist, and Catholic philosopher. He was a child prodigy who was educated by his father, a tax collector in Rouen. Pascal's earliest work was in the natural and applied sciences where he made important contributions to the construction of mechanical calculators, the study of fluids, and clarified the concepts of pressure and vacuum by generalizing the work of Evangelista Torricelli. Pascal also wrote in defense of the scientific method.
Pascal was a mathematician of the first order. He helped create two major new areas of research. He wrote a significant treatise on the subject of projective geometry at the age of sixteen, and later corresponded with Pierre de Fermat on probability theory, strongly influencing the development of modern economics and social science. Following Galileo Galilei and Torricelli, in 1646 he refuted Aristotle's followers who insisted that nature abhors a vacuum. His results caused many disputes before being accepted.
Blaise Pascal in 1632
When Blaise Pascal's future as a great mathematician became known, he and his younger sister were sent from Paris to Grantville to be protected from their historical notoriety. Once there, the 11-year-old Blaise became a student in the town's middle school.
Blaise's presence in Grantville was discovered when Logan Sebastian noticed he and his sister Jacqueline arguing over an encyclopedia entry on Pascal's triangles, and told her math-teacher father that the Blaise Pascal was in town. He came to the general attention of the town, and the particular attention of Fire Chief Stephen Matheny, after using a homemade harness to raise himself up the steeple of Saint Mary's Parish -- and very nearly hanging himself when the harness slipped.
Blaise appears to have trouble grasping some types of humor as humor, or at least as not to be taken seriously. When shown an April Fool's article from Scientific American about an analog computer "found" on a South Pacific island named Apraphul, he repeatedly attempted to build the device, and was annoyed when they did not work. However, his attempts led him to develop hydraulic computing devices. As of April of 1636, he had not yet succeeded in producing a reliably working computer, and there is no indication that he is working with others who are producing fluidics-based devices.
In the OTL, Blaise Pascal had chronic health problems, especially after the age of 18. It is not known what effect, if any, the combination of changed circumstances and access to up-time medical knowledge will have on his health.
- Étienne_Pascal on French Wikipedia.
- Grantville Gazette XVIII, "Gifted with Pascal". Internal references imply that this was sometime in 1634.
- Ring of Fire III, "Falser Messiah".
- Grantville Gazette XXX, "Blaise Pascal and the Adders of Apraphul".
- The article, "An Ancient Rope-and-Pulley Computer is Unearthed in the Jungle of Apraphul", was printed in the April 1988 issue of Scientific American. Scientific American does not have it online.
- Grantville Gazette XLVI, "The Things We Do For Love".