They Took Away His Books


“To understand is to forgive.” 


Blaise Pascal

Today, in 1623, Blaise Pascal, a child prodigy, was born in the town Clermont-Ferrand, France.  While his time on earth would be cut short by ill-health, his accomplishments were extraordinary.  His first mathematical treatise was completed by the age of sixteen; by nineteen, he constructed the first calculator – a mechanical device  capable of addition and subtraction. Seven of the twenty calculators that Pascal produced still remain safely guarded within museum walls and collectors’ cabinets.

It has been said that Pascal’s tutors took away his books on mathematics, deciding that classics would be more in keeping with his educational requirements.  Not to be thwarted, Pascal merely took up a charcoal and worked out Euclid’s theorems of geometry on the floor without the help of texts. Pascal was only twelve.  Humbled by his genius, the tutors returned his books and acknowledged his destiny.

“The more I see of Mankind, the more I prefer my dog.” 
Blaise Pascal