Blaise Pascal was a French mathematician, scientist, and philosopher. Although he is best known to online roulette players as the inventor of the roulette wheel, that was actually only one of his many brilliant accomplishments.
Pascal was born in 1623 in Clermont, France. He was the third of four children, and the only boy in the family. His mother died when Pascal was only three, and his father, Etienne, decided to home-school his son. At first, Etienne forbade young Blaise to study mathematics until he reached age 15, preferring that he concentrate on studying Greek and Latin. Nevertheless, Blaise learned geometry clandestinely until his father, impressed by the child's brilliance, agreed to allow him to continue his mathematical studies. When he was still only 16, Blaise presented a paper with a number of projective geometry theorems that impressed the leading mathematicians of Paris.
Pascal's contributions to mathematics continued into his adulthood, and they are still taught in maths classes to this day. He is most famous today for Pascal's Triangle, which illustrates the expansion of binomial coefficients. (By the way, you don't have to understand binomial coefficients to play online roulette. It is just interesting to find out about the many ways in which the genius of this great mind expressed itself.)
Pascal also distinguished himself in mathematics by inventing the theory of probabilities. This came about through a problem posed by Pascal's friend, the Chevalier de Mere, an inveterate gambler. The problem: two players must abort their game before it is finished, with one player ahead at the time. How, then, to divide the stakes? On the one hand, it would be unfair to divide them equally, because that does not give sufficient credit to the player who is ahead. On the other hand, it would also be unfair to give the entire pot to the player who is ahead at the time, because his ultimate victory is not certain.
Pascal therefore devised a mathematical formula for determining the probability that each player would have won if the game had been played to its conclusion. This is the essence of probability theory: establishing the numerical odds of a future event occurring or not occurring with mathematical precision. Pascal's theory of probability is used today in virtually every area of modern life.
In the physical sciences, Pascal developed Pascal's Law, which states that pressure applied to a confined liquid at any point is transmitted undiminished throughout the fluid in all directions equally. Practical applications of Pascal's law are still seen today in hydraulic machines and in the barometer.
Pascal got involved in a heated dispute about the empty space above the column of mercury in a barometer. Pascal said it was a vacuum. Descartes, the leading intellectual of the day, did not believe a vacuum could exist, and said that Pascal must have a vacuum in his head. Today, of course, we know that Pascal was correct.
More than any other figure in roulette history, it is Blaise Pascal who made the game of roulette what it is today. It was in the course of trying to develop a perpetual motion machine that Pascal invented the roulette wheel. In a sense, we should be grateful that his experiments failed. If perpetual motion had succeeded, the wheel would never stop spinning and there would never be a winner in roulette. Sometimes it can truly be said that there's no success like failure.
Pascal died in 1662 at the young age of 39. More than 350 years later, we would be wise to pay homage to this great thinker every time we play a game of roulette online. If there had been no Pascal, there would be no roulette, and we would be living in a sadder, duller, less enjoyable world. So let us all praise Blaise Pascal, scientific genius and inventor of the roulette wheel.