Leonardo Da Vinci And His Scientific Studies

“I have been impressed with the urgency of doing. Knowing is not enough; we must apply. Being willing is not enough; we must do. ”, Leonardo da Vinci once said. Having a large amount of knowledge or confidence will not amount to much, if action is not taken based on that knowledge. Da Vinci certainly put his words into action and applied the knowledge he had during his own lifetime by contributing greatly with both his scientific and engineering breakthroughs. Leonardo da Vinci was a pioneer in the STEM field because of his revolutionary scientific studies, inventions that were ahead of his time, and his work as an engineer.

As a child, da Vinci had a fairly regular life, but he also showed a high level of intelligence early on. Leonardo da Vinci was born on April 15, 1452 in Vinci, Italy during the Renaissance time period. His father was Piero da Vinci, and his mother, Caterina, was a peasant woman. While da Vinci was young, his father remarried to a woman named Alberia, who was sixteen years old. Da Vinci showed promise at an early age, and he even painted a plaque that was eventually sold to the Duke of Milan. Before the age of fourteen, da Vinci did not have much guidance or education, and he was mostly self-taught. Because da Vinci was not formally educated, his natural curiosity and talent in the arts was even more impressive. Until the age of twelve, da Vinci mainly stayed with his grandparents at their house in Vinci, Italy.

When Leonardo was twelve, in 1464, his father brought him to Florence and educated Leonardo more so that he could become an apprentice. At fourteen, da Vinci became the apprentice of Andrea del Verrocchio, who was a famous artist, and learned several valuable skills such as metalwork, carpentry, and new artistic techniques. These skills that he learned at a young age were a tremendous help to him in his later life, while he was designing and inventing his machines. While at Verrocchio’s workshop, Leonardo studied how to draw drapery, which greatly improved his artistic ability and inspired him to adapt a new style of drawing that involved less sketchy lines. Leonardo was one of Verrocchio’s most talented pupils, and he even helped him to paint the famous painting entitled the Baptism of Christ. Furthermore, as Verrocchio’s apprentice, da Vinci had experiences that would help him as both a scientist and engineer.

According to biographers of the 16th century, Leonardo da Vinci was known as a very charming person, as well as someone who attracted the attention of others. Because of his charming nature, he made friends relatively easy, especially with potential patrons of his. Luca Pacioli, Donato Bramante, and Piattino Piatti were some of the very smart and important people that were da Vinci’s close friends. One of da Vinci’s best friends throughout his entire life was Gian Giacomo Caprotti, who went by the name Salai. Sailai was very important to da Vinci, and he left half of his entire Milan vineyard to Salai in his will.

Towards the end of his life, from 1513 to 1516, da Vinci spent most of his time living in the Vatican at the Belvedere, working for his patron. Da Vinci then moved to France in 1516 and was given the title of royal painter, architect, and mechanic by King Francis I, his final patron, in 1517. On May 2, 1519, da Vinci died in Cloux, France. He was said to have died in King Francis I’s arms inside his bedroom at the palace. Da Vinci was buried in the church of the Chateau d’ Amboise, but the church was later demolished in the 19th century. Human bones were found at the demolition site and were assumed to be da Vinci’s, so they were buried again at the Chapel of Saint-Hubert.

As a scientist, da Vinci did several amazing studies on various scientific topics. Although he was not the first to do it, da Vinci drew a Vitruvian Man of his own that was a new concept because it was meticulously drawn. At the time, other artists, scientists, and engineers drew their designs with little detail and very messy lines, so da Vinci amazed people with his extreme detail. Many new measurements of human body proportions were recorded by da Vinci, and most of them were based on his own research rather than Vitruvius’s. Measurements done by Vitruvius and other scientists were assumed to be correct for several years, but da Vinci proved those measurements to be incorrect. The Vitruvian Man done by da Vinci was a big contribution to the field of anatomy because of his twenty-two important measurements of the human body. It impacted the world because it brought up the important connection between science and art, and it also showed people how they relate to the universe as individuals.

Beginning in the 1490’s, da Vinci started to study the earth, and he came up with the microcosm-macrocosm analogy, which related the earth to the human body. He recorded all of his findings and research about the earth in his notebook, called the Codex Leicester. It was an outstanding collection of notes done by da Vinci because of the detail and new discoveries that were recorded in the notebook. Soon, da Vinci became interested in the role of water on earth in forms like whirlpools and vortexes, and he discovered how the motion of water worked. After understanding the motion of water, da Vinci was curious about erosion, which led him to find that water erodes away at rock over time. Da Vinci then went on to make revolutionary findings about fossils that were completely unheard of during his time, like many of his scientific discoveries.

Da Vinci did several different studies on human anatomy, and he dissected thirty human corpses over a twenty year period, all while taking very detailed notes. In the late 1480’s, da Vinci started to become curious about how the bodies of living organisms functioned, so he dissected animals including dogs, birds, pigs, and more. Some of his first human anatomy studies were on the human skull in 1489, and then he moved on to studying proportions of the human body. From 1510 to 1511, da Vinci worked with a professor named Marcantonio Della Torre at the University of Pavia on dissections of the human body. Although da Vinci was very intelligent on his own, working with the professor allowed him to make discoveries on the human body that he would not have made if he had continued to work alone. He created two hundred forty drawings and thousands of words describing every muscle, bone, and organ in the human body, which was one of his greatest scientific achievements.

Having endless curiosity while making his scientific notebooks was something that da Vinci possessed as a scientist. Even though the many studies of human anatomy done by da Vinci were revolutionary during his time, they were never actually released to the public, so much of the information was discovered again later in time. As a scientist, da Vinci made several important discoveries about human anatomy as well as how the Earth and universe function. His work paved the way for a new generation of scientists to make breakthroughs of their own.

One of the greatest engineers during the Renaissance time period was Leonardo da Vinci. After leaving one of his patrons, Cesare Borgia, da Vinci went to Pisa to try to divert the Arno River, and designed a machine that would dig ditches to clear a path for the diversion. When the plans for the Arno River did not work out, da Vinci came up with a different plan to drain the Piombino Marshes. He designed a machine to create an artificial whirlpool near the sea and then push water away from the river. Other scientists soon developed more efficient draining methods by basing their designs off of da Vinci’s methods. Another one of da Vinci’s hydraulic engineering projects was in Rome, where he devised new plans in order to drain certain mountain streams into the sea. Da Vinci also worked on plans for a circular fortress surrounded by water and ways to drain swamps efficiently, but they were never followed through. As a hydraulic engineer, da Vinci made many designs that were not carried out, but they did lead to important modern day hydraulic inventions.

While he was in Milan, da Vinci got into military engineering and created several designs of weapons like crossbows, cannons, and trench diggers. When da Vinci went back to Florence in 1500, he began working for a patron named Cesare Borgia, and helped him as a military engineer. Da Vinci advised Borgia with his military by designing a fortress that was created to reduce the impact of cannons during battle. He also engineered a bridge made entirely of wood that allowed Borgia’s army to walk over a river. One of da Vinci’s best military inventions was a very detailed map that he designed for Borgia because it was an amazing, new military weapon that played a big part in warfare. Many other military leaders did not have anything to the detailed map that Leonardo da Vinci made, giving Borgia and edge over his enemies.

Mechanical machines interested da Vinci all throughout his life, and we began to take interest in them during his engineering career. Da Vinci always had an interest in making humans fly, so he started to study flight by observing how birds fly. Beginning in the late 1480’s he started to write notes and draw meticulous designs of flight machines. These machines included a wing that was manually pumped by a lever, and the aerial screw, which is thought to be the world’s first design of a helicopter. While working for his first patron, Ludovico Sforza, da Vinci began to put on plays for Sforza and designed a revolving stage for the actors. At first, da Vinci only put on plays to get on the good side of Sforza, but then he ended up designing some of his first flying machines in the process. Leonardo da Vinci went into extreme detail when designing his machines, which was different from what other inventors at the time did. An example is Leonardo da Vinci’s design of a mechanical hoist that used toothed wheels to lift a heavy load, because it was sketched with great precision. Da Vinci invented many machines that were ahead of his time and that lead to modern day machines including an armored car, parachute, and giant crossbow.

Leonardo da Vinci took interest at the thought that there was a connection between math and nature, and started to study geometry because he was intrigued at how shapes have continuous quantities. He started to study how to square a circle, which is calculating the area of the circle then replicating the area in a straight edge. This topic had been explored by mathematicians before da Vinci, but they never came to a conclusion. Da Vinci’s sketches were a new way to approach the idea of squaring a circle. Another one of da Vinci’s math interests was the study of transformations of shapes, topology, and he helped pave the way for future discoveries to be made in this field. All of da Vinci’s mathematical studies helped him to become a better artist and also helped him while inventing many of his machines.

As an engineer, one of da Vinci’s goals was to make the sketches of his inventions public, but he dies before he could do it. Many of da Vinci’s notes were later discovered several years later, and some of them helped inventors and engineers to create their own new inventions. Although most of da Vinci’s designs and inventions never were released or built during his time, they helped future engineers to design scuba gear, helicopters, and drain pumps for swamps. Because of all his studies on the mechanical arts, da Vinci came up with a new view of the universe that all movements of everything operated according to the same laws. This led scientists into a new age and inspired them to investigate whether this conclusion was correct.

By having endless curiosity in his work, Leonardo da Vinci changed the world for the better. This desire for knowledge allowed him to make discoveries as a scientist and engineer that were both creative and unheard of. Because of his groundbreaking scientific research, advanced inventions, and influential engineering career, Leonardo da Vinci made a great impact in the STEM field. Da Vinci also wrote, “Learning never exhausts the mind. ”, and proved this by doing numerous different studies all across different kinds of engineering and sciences.

10 October 2020
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