From The Art and Popular Culture Encyclopedia
Blaise Pascal (June 19 1623 – August 19 1662) was a French mathematician, physicist, and religious philosopher. He was a child prodigy who was educated by his father. 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 powerfully in defense of the scientific method.
He was a mathematician of the first order. Pascal 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 corresponded with Pierre de Fermat from 1654 and later on probability theory, strongly influencing the development of modern economics and social science.
Following a mystical experience in late 1654, he abandoned his scientific work and devoted himself to philosophy and theology. His two most famous works date from this period: the Lettres provinciales and the Pensées.
Pascal suffered from ill-health throughout his life and died two months after his 39th birthday.