The Notebooks of Leonardo

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Part 2: The Future

Among the many themes described in Leonardo’s notebooks are these:

  • Mechanical inventions: A man well before his time, Leonardo discussed spinning machines like looms, modern-looking clocks, printing presses, machines with transmission gears, and much more.
  • Weapons of war: A failed military man, he nonetheless made many drawings of machine guns, armored tanks, submarines, battleships powered by steam, and countless others.
  • Hydraulics (water-powered) machines: Fascinated with the simple and elegant power of water, Leonardo made drawings of canals and locks, portable bridges, and even land reclamation projects
  • Flying machines: Obsessed with imitating the beautiful flight of birds, he drew plans for helicopters and parachutes, not to mention human-powered flight.
  • Architecture theory: A brilliant architectural mind as well, he ncluded were plans for churches, domes, bathrooms with hot and cold running water, designs for revolving stages, and studies of the stress and strain of different building materials.
  • Geological theory: Yes, he studied this, too, including writings on the history of the earth and the composition of rocks.
  • Botany: He wrote detailed descriptions of the growth of plants and the laws of nature.
  • Painting: Yes, he did get around to discussing painting as well, including a large number of principals and theories that he called a Treatise on Painting.

Leonardo anticipated the future in many an endeavor. He also endeavored himself to record as much of his thinking and scientific curiosity. Sadly, we have just a part of it left to us. Even that, however, confirms his status as a true Renaissance Man.

First page > The How and the Why > Page 1, 2

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David White