Blaise Pascal was a French mathematician, physicist, and religious
philosopher. Pascal's earliest work was in the natural and applied
sciences. His important contributions to these fields include the
construction of mechanical calculators, the study of fluids, and
clarification of concepts such as pressure and vacuum by expanding the
work of Evangelista Torricelli. Pascal also lent his pen to the
defense of the scientific method. In mathematics, Pascal did
groundwork in projective geometry, writing a significant treatise on
the subject at the age of sixteen. In correspondence with Fermat
beginning in 1654, Pascal helped establish probability theory. His
ideas in this area have had major ramifications in economics and the
social sciences. Following a mystical experience in late 1654, he fell
away from mathematics and physics and devoted himself to reflection
and writing about philosophy and theology. This period was
characterized by the composition of his two most famous works, the
Lettres provinciales and the PensÃ©es.
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Today's selected anniversaries:
California Gold Rush: The New York Herald reported news to the East
Coast of the United States that a gold rush was on in California.
World War II: Allied forces raided Dieppe, France in the Dieppe Raid.
Operation Ajax: The government of Mohammed Mossadegh in Iran was
Russian space dogs Belka ("Squirrel") and Strelka ("Little Arrow")
began to orbit the Earth aboard the Korabl-Sputnik-2 spacecraft.
Mikhail Gorbachev was announced as "ill and had been relieved of his
state post as President" in a failed Soviet coup attempt.
Wikiquote of the day:
"Truth has such a face and such a mien as to be lov'd needs only to be
seen." -- John Dryden (http://en.wikiquote.org/wiki/John_Dryden