Science and inventions of Leonardo da Vinci

Leonardo da Vinci's inventions and his relationship to science

Leonardo da Vinci (1452–1519) was an Italian polymath, regarded as the epitome of the "Renaissance Man", displaying skills in numerous diverse areas of study. Whilst most famous for his paintings such as the Mona Lisa and the Last Supper, Leonardo is also renowned in the fields of civil engineering, chemistry, geology, geometry, hydrodynamics, mathematics, mechanical engineering, optics, physics, pyrotechnics, and zoology.

While the full extent of his scientific studies has only become recognized in the last 150 years, during his lifetime he was employed for his engineering and skill of invention. Many of his designs, such as the movable dikes to protect Venice from invasion, proved too costly or impractical. Some of his smaller inventions entered the world of manufacturing unheralded. As an engineer, Leonardo conceived ideas vastly ahead of his own time, conceptually inventing the parachute, the helicopter, an armored fighting vehicle, the use of concentrated solar power, a calculator, a rudimentary theory of plate tectonics and the double hull. In practice, he greatly advanced the state of knowledge in the fields of anatomy, astronomy, civil engineering, optics, and the study of water (hydrodynamics).

One of Leonardo's drawings, the Vitruvian Man, is a study of the proportions of the human body, linking art and science in a single work that has come to represent the concept of macrocosm and microcosm in Renaissance humanism.


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