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Pascal, Blaise



Mathematician, physicist, theologian, and man-of-letters, born in Clermont-Ferrand, C France. He invented a calculating machine (1647), and later the barometer, the hydraulic press, and the syringe. Until 1654 he spent his time between mathematics and the social round in Paris, but a mystical experience that year led him to join his sister, who was a member of the Jansenist convent at Port-Royal, where he defended Jansenism against the Jesuits in Lettres provinciales (1656--7). Fragments jotted down for a case book of Christian truth were discovered after his death and published as the Pensées (1669, Thoughts).

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