The Codex Leicester (also briefly known as the Codex Hammer) is a collection of scientific writings by Leonardo da Vinci. The Codex is named after Thomas Coke, who purchased it in 1719; he later became the Earl of Leicester. The manuscript currently holds the record for the third highest sale price of any book: it was sold to Bill Gates at Christie's auction house on 11 November 1994 in New York for US$30,802,500 (equivalent to $53,222,898.79 in 2019).
The Codex provides an insight into the inquiring mind of the definitive Renaissance artist, scientist and thinker, as well as an exceptional illustration of the link between art and science and the creativity of the scientific process.
The notebook is leather-bound and consists of 36 sheets 29 × 22:cm in size. The manuscript does not take the form of a single linear script, but is rather a mixture of Leonardo's observations and theories on astronomy; the properties of water, rocks, and fossils; air, and celestial light. The topics addressed include:
- An explanation of why fossils of sea creatures can be found on mountains. Hundreds of years before plate tectonics became accepted scientific theory, Leonardo believed that mountains had previously formed sea beds, which were gradually lifted until they formed mountains.
- The movement of water. This is the main topic of the Codex Leicester. Among other things, Leonardo wrote about the flow of water in rivers, and how it is affected by different obstacles put in its way. From his observations he made recommendations about bridge construction and erosion.
- The luminosity of the Moon. Leonardo speculated that the Moon's surface is covered by water, which reflects light from the Sun. In this model, waves on the water's surface cause the light to be reflected in many directions, explaining why the Moon is not as bright as the Sun. Leonardo explained that the pale glow on the dark portion of the crescent Moon is caused by sunlight reflected from the Earth. Thus, he described the phenomenon of planetshine one hundred years before the German astronomer Johannes Kepler proved it.
The Codex consists of 18 sheets of paper, each folded in half and written on both sides, forming the complete 72-page document. At one time the sheets were bound together, but they are now displayed separately. It was handwritten in Italian by Leonardo, using... ...read more