Blaise Pascal, Isaac Newton, and Albert Einstein

You found Pascal! [Joke about physics]

Albert Einstein, Sir Isaac Newton, and Blaise Pascal are hanging out one afternoon. Einstein is bored, so he suggests, “Let’s play hide and seek! I’ll be it!”.

The others agree so Einstein begins counting. “One… two… three…”

Pascal runs off right away and finds a place to hide. But, Newton merely takes out a piece of chalk and draws a mid-sized square. He finishes and steps into the square just as Einstein shouts, “Ready or not… Here I come!”

Einstein looks up and immediately spots Newton standing right in front of him. He says: “I found you, Newton!”

Newton replies, “No, you found one Newton per square meter, you found Pascal!”

Explaining the “You found Pascal!” joke

The pascal (symbol: Pa) is the unit of pressure in the International System of Units (SI). It is named after Blaise Pascal in recognition of his contributions to the fields of physics and fluid mechanics. The pascal is defined as one newton per square meter (1 N/m²) and is equivalent to one kilogram per meter per second squared (1 kg/(m·s²)).

Here are some key points about the pascal as a unit of pressure:

  1. Pressure Measurement: The pascal is primarily used to measure pressure, which is defined as the force applied perpendicular to a unit area. It quantifies the intensity of force distributed over a surface. Pressure is measured in pascals, especially in scientific and engineering contexts.
  2. SI Unit: The pascal is part of the SI system, which is an internationally recognized measurement system used in scientific and technical fields. The SI system provides a coherent framework for measurements and promotes uniformity in scientific communication.
  3. Pascal’s Law: Pascal’s Law, also known as Pascal’s Principle, states that when pressure is applied to a fluid confined within a container, it is transmitted uniformly in all directions. This principle is the foundation for hydraulic systems and plays a crucial role in areas such as engineering and mechanical design.
  4. Practical Pressure Ranges: The pascal is a small unit of pressure, and in practical applications, it is often used in its multiples or submultiples. For instance, kilopascal (kPa) and megapascal (MPa) are commonly used for measuring higher pressures, such as in industrial processes or structural engineering. Conversely, millipascal (mPa) or micropascal (μPa) may be used for very low pressures, such as in atmospheric research.
  5. Pressure Conversions: The pascal can be converted to other units of pressure using appropriate conversion factors. For example, 1 pascal is equal to 0.000145 pounds per square inch (psi) or approximately 0.0075 millimeters of mercury (mmHg).

The pascal is an essential unit for measuring pressure in scientific and engineering contexts. It allows for accurate quantification of forces distributed over surfaces, enabling precise calculations and analysis in various fields, including physics, fluid mechanics, engineering, and materials science.

Blaise Pascal

Blaise Pascal (19 June 1623 – 19 August 1662) was a French mathematician, physicist, inventor, philosopher, and Catholic writer. Despite a challenging childhood, Pascal excelled in various disciplines during the 17th century, leaving a lasting impact on mathematics, science, and philosophy.

One of Pascal’s notable achievements was the development of Pascal’s Triangle, a triangular arrangement of numbers where each number is the sum of the two numbers directly above it. This mathematical pattern found applications in combinatorics, probability theory, and binomial expansion.

In the realm of geometry, Pascal’s Theorem became a fundamental result in projective geometry. It described the special relationship among the six points of any hexagon inscribed in a conic section, paving the way for further developments in the field.

Painting of Blaise Pascal made by the Frenc painter François II Quesnel
Painting of Blaise Pascal made by the Frenc painter François II Quesnel for Gérard Edelinck (1640-1707, a copper-plate engraver and print publisher of Flemish origin, who worked in Paris from 1666 and became a naturalized French citizen in 1675) in 1691. [réf. nécessaire]. – Own work, CC BY 3.0, Link

Pascal’s interest in physics led to the discovery of Pascal’s Law, also known as Pascal’s Principle. This principle states that pressure applied to a confined fluid is transmitted equally in all directions. It laid the foundation for hydrodynamics and found practical applications in hydraulic machines and engineering.

Pascal’s collaboration with Pierre de Fermat on probability theory resulted in significant contributions to the field. Pascal’s work on the theory of probability, particularly his publication “Traitè du triangle arithmétique” in 1653, introduced the concept of expected value and helped establish probability as a mathematical discipline.

Pascal’s ingenuity extended to the realm of inventions as well. He created the Pascaline, an early mechanical calculator capable of performing arithmetic calculations mechanically. Although the Pascaline had limited production, it played a crucial role in the development of modern calculating machines.

In the later years of his life, Pascal underwent a religious conversion and devoted himself to Christianity. He wrote extensively on religious philosophy and apologetics, with his renowned work “Pensées” exploring themes such as the human condition, faith, and the existence of God. These writings showcased Pascal’s profound reflections on spirituality and remain influential in religious philosophy.

Blaise Pascal’s contributions to mathematics, physics, and philosophy have left a lasting legacy. His advancements in probability theory, geometry, fluid mechanics, and mechanical calculation have shaped scientific progress and continue to be significant areas of study to this day.


M. Özgür Nevres


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