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Today I interviewed the boss of Nasa, Acting Administrator Robert Lightfoot, who was in Dublin for the first time. Here's what he had to say about sending humans to Mars, extra-solar planets, the possibility of life elsewhere in the Universe, the Irish space sector and more...

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It's the birthday of Blaise Pascal, who was born in 1623 in Clermont-Ferrand, France. Pascal's father was a tax collector. To speed the calculations of taxes owed, Pascal, who was 19 years old at the time, invented a mechanical calculator. Pascal made several contributions to number theory and to physics, notably in hydrodynamics and hydrostatics, but he ceased his scientific research after undergoing a religious experience. Among his most lasting works is Pensées ("Thoughts"), an unfinished collection of short statements about philosophy and the nature of the Christian faith. Here's an example of Pascal's wisdom: "People are generally better persuaded by the reasons which they have themselves discovered than by those which have come into the mind of others." The Pascal computing language and the SI unit of pressure are named after him in his honor.

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