Date of Award
Master's Essay - Restricted
Master of Science (MS)
Blaise Pascal was born June 19, 1623 in Clermont in the ✓ province of Auvergne of France. His father, Etienne, was a local judge and a mathematician in his own right.(Ball,281 -8 ) In fact, the "limacon of Pascal", r =a+ b cosθ, was named for the elder Pascal.(Boyer(b),395) In 1631, the family moved to Paris to enable Etienne to pursue his scientific studies and to continue the education of his son. Since Blaise was of poor health he was educated at home. His father insisted that Blaise's education consist only of the study of languages to the exclusion of mathematics due to his concern about his son's delicate health. Pascal became curious about this forbidden subject of mathematics and inquired about the nature of geometry from his tutor. His tutor explained that geometry was the science of constructing exact figures and determining the properties of those figures. Intrigued by this, Pascal gave up his play time to study geometric figures. Within a few weeks he had discovered many of the properties of geometric figures found in the first book of Euclid's "Elements" including the fact that the sum of the angles of a triangle equals two right angles. It is hypothesized that his proof consisted of folding the angles of a triangle over so they met at the center of the inscribed circle. One day Etienne discovered his son working on geometric figures and was so impressed with his son's mathematical ability that he gave him a copy of Euclid's "Elements". Pascal, who was 12 years old, quickly mastered this material.(Ball,281-8)
Kieckhaefer, June, "Pascal and His Arithmetic Triangle" (1988). Master's Essays (1922 - ). 1339.