Blaise Pascal (1623-1662) is famous for his studies on fluids and gases. Living up to the pressure (no pun intended) of his dad, who was a renowned mathematician and his older sister, a literary prodigy, Pascal proved to be adept in mathematics. At the age of 17, Pascal wrote an essay on conic sections after reading a work by Girard Desargues on projective geometry. However, Pascal's most significant contribution was his invention of the digital calculator. His father performed regular tax calculations with his job as an intendent for the French government, and Pascal built the calculator to make his father's job easier.

After devoting his life to religion for a brief period of time following the death of his father, Pascal began to perform studies on air pressure. One discovery that Pascal made, referred to as Pascal's principle, states that "pressure exerted anywhere in a confined fluid is transmitted equally in all directions throughout the fluid." This discovery led Pascal to invent the syringe and the hydraulic press.

Throughout his life, Pascal struggled with his spirituality. At points in his life, he wanted to dedicate his life to religion, and at other times, he wanted to dedicate himself to scientific studies. While he performed his studies on air pressure, Pascal overworked himself, and his doctor demanded that he terminate his work in science. This was a point when he turned back to religion. At one point, Pascal had an awakening and he devoted the rest of his life to religion, with the exception of a phase when he wanted to study cycloid curves.

In this regard, Pascal was also highly influential in the religious aspect of the Enlightenment. He completely disapproved of the previous attempts of his predecessors to prove the existence of God. Instead, Pascal stated, "If God does not exist, one will lose nothing by believing in him, while if he does exist, one will lose everything by not believing," in his famous unpublished work Pensees. This philosophy became known as Pascal's wager. Additionally, Pascal looked down upon attempts by countries such as Spain and England to convert its people to a national religion. He asserted that religion is not something that you can be forced to believe in, but religion is something that you have to self-discover and experience to truly believe in.


Where would science be if not for the invention of the calculator? Pascal's invention was clearly advantageous to development of science hitherto. Pascal also contributed significantly to the science of fluid dynamics. Also, Pascal's struggle to discover his faith, which was clearly demonstrated in the wager named for him, challenged the beliefs of Christians in previous history. It is interesting that his works indicate that he used geometric reasoning to try to resolve the problems that he discovered in his faith.