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Blaise Pascal. Portrait the French mathematician, physicist and philosopher Blaise Pascal (1623- 1662). Educated by his father, Pascal was a child prodigy. At 16 he published a book on geometry in which he deduced 400 propositions, and at 19 he invented a calculating machine that could add and subtract. Together with Fermat he founded probability theory, and on his own discovered the basis of hydraulics. In 1654, Pascal experienced a profound mystical experience after narrowly escaping death in a horse-drawn carriage. As a result he abandoned mathematics and retired to a strict convent to devote the rest of his short life to meditation and writing.
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