Schedule of Talks for the 2023-2024 Academic Year
Date: Wednesday, November 1, 2023
Speaker: Prof. Maria Zack
Department of Mathematical, Information \& Computer Sciences
Point Loma Nazarene University
Email: MariaZack AT pointloma DOT edu
Title: Blaise Pascal's Cycloidial Contest
Abstract: n June of 1658, using the pseudonym of Amos Dettonville, Pascal issued a challenge offering 40 pistoles to the first person who could solve a collection of six problems about the standard cycloid. The problems were:
  1. To find the area under the cycloid
  2. To find the center of gravity of the cycloid
  3. To find the volume of the two solids found by rotating the cycloid around both the base and the axis
  4. To find the center of gravity of the two solids described in (3)
The contestants had a few short months to complete their work and submit their solutions by October 1, 1658 to the mathematician Pierre de Carcavi. This talk will discuss the web of people connected to this contest, some of their solutions, and Pascal's own writings including an accusation of plagiarism!