Blaise Pascal: fire...

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He died in 1692 when he was 39 years young. Eight years before death, he left his brilliant career as a physicist and mathematician for the monastery where he defended the Jansenists against the Jesuits. He explained the change:

Reason has its own sphere, mathematics and the natural sciences… but the truths which it is really important for man to know, his nature and his supernatural destiny, these cannot be discovered by the philosopher or the scientist. I passed a long time in the study of the abstract sciences, but the scant communication which one can have in them (that is, the comparative fewness of the people with whom one shares these studies and with whom one can communicate) disgusted me. 

A brother in Christ sent me this...

theorem he was teaching his students recently, attaching this graphic:

I’m teaching an undergrad geometry courses this semester, and in it we covered the proof of the following beautiful theorem originally discovered by our favorite mathematician. I thought you would enjoy its elegance.
Theorem (Blaise Pascal’s “Hexagrammum Mysticum”) Given a projective conic Q (e.g. an ellipse in the plane as in the picture below) and any choice of six distinct points on Q (A,B,C,D,E,F in the picture), if we connect up the 6 points by line segments as in the picture below (A->B->C->D->E->F->A), then the resulting three intersection points by “opposite edges” (G,H,K in the picture) always lie on the same straight line.

We've put up other Pascal quotes over the years, but never my favorite. After his death, his servant found two copies of this text sewn into the lining of his cloak, one the original on paper and the copy on parchment:

The year of grace 1654.
Monday, 23 November, feast of St. Clement,
pope and martyr and others in the martyrology.
The eve of Saint Chrysogonus martyr and others.
From about half-past ten in the evening
        until about half-past midnight.
The God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, the God of Jacob.
Not of the philosophers and intellectuals.
Certitude, certitude, feeling, joy, peace.
The God of Jesus Christ.
My God and your God [in Latin, accusative case].
Your God will be my God.
Forgetfulness of the world and of everything except God.
One finds oneself only by way of the directions taught
        in the gospel.
The grandeur of the human soul.
Oh just Father, the world has not known you,
       but I have known you.
Joy, joy,,, joy, tears of joy.
I have separated myself from him.______________
They have abandoned me, the fountain of living water [in Latin].
My God, will you leave me?
May I not be separated from him eternally.
This is eternal life, that they know you the one true God
       and J.C. whom you have sent.
Jesus Christ.____________________
Jesus Christ.______________
I have separated myself from him. I have run away from him,
        renounced him, crucified him.
May I never be separated from him._______________
One preserves oneself only by way of the lessons taught
         in the gospel.
Renunciation total and sweet.
And so forth.

Tim Bayly

Tim serves Clearnote Church, Bloomington, Indiana. He and Mary Lee have five children and big lots of grandchildren.

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