What Did Blaise Pascal Accomplish?

Blaise Pascal's chief accomplishments included the invention of a mechanical calculator, the development of Pascal's triangle and the refutation of the belief in the impossibility of vacuums. Pascal was also a devout Christian whose two theological works are widely considered among the most important in Western literature.

Biography.com states that Pascal was the son of a tax collector. To make his father's work easier, he invented a mechanical calculator known as the Pascaline. Pascal's invention had eight numerical dials that represented numerical digits such as ones, tens and hundreds. It could add, subtract and multiply. Although the Pascaline had glitches and fell off the market a year after its introduction, it remained an influential predecessor to the modern calculator.

Pascal was a skilled mathematician. According to Wikipedia, one of his most important contributions to mathematics was the introduction of Pascal's triangle, a triangular display of the binomial coefficients. In the realm of physical science, Pascal used mercury in an experiment that demonstrated the existence of vacuums. This sparked controversy in the scientific community, which had long held with Aristotle's assumption that vacuums did not exist.

Pascal became a Christian believer after a personal religious experience in 1654. His first theological work, "The Provincial Letters," was a controversial assault on prevailing religious tenets that Pascal felt justified moral laxity. His second religious treatise, "Pensées," was a sweeping defense of Christianity against popular secularist trends. Scholars rate it as one of the greatest works in French prose.