Dr. Leo Oriet
October 5, 2018
The name Leonardo da Vinci name inevitably brings the creation of the Mona Lisa and perhaps the Last Supper to mind. Yet da Vinci was more than just an artist, he was also a draughtsman, designer, architect, and scientist. If asked for a title, da Vinci would ultimately refer to himself as an engineer. The talented innovator used his undeniable creativity driven by imagination to create inventions that seemed impossible too many. Da Vinci perceived the world as a place with unlimited possibilities. The drive of experimenting lead his mind to designing war equipment, flying machines, and many more concepts that could be considered ahead of their times.
The area of aviation seemed to capture da Vinci’s interest the most. In order find “the secret of flight”, da Vinci was inspired by winged animals, he even dissected birds and used it to study the formation. These sources of inspiration leads to his process of replication. Leonardo da Vinci’s flying machine had a wingspan over thirty three feet. The frame was created out of materials that created a firm and light center; a common resource was pine covered in silk. For the flying process, the pilot would lie face down in the center of the machine on a flat platform. The power of the wings were stimulated by the pilot as they would pedal. The machine also had a hand crank for increasing the energy output, and a head section for steering. The influence of nature’s creation are apparent in his creation when inspecting the way the wings are designed. Another popular invention that challenged the imagination of many is the “Aerial Screw” or Helicopter. Although da Vinci never built the design, his sketches and notes described exactly how the device would work. The device was described to compress air to obtain flight; similar to today’s helicopters. Da Vinci often used the screw like shape to design his inventions, which lead to alternate titles like the “airscrew”. The screw shaped design measured more than fifteen feet in diameter and was intended to be made from reed, linen and wire. The powerhouse would come from humans standing on a platform while turning cranks to rotate the shaft. Eventually, with enough spinning, the invention was intended to eventually lift off the ground. According to modern scientists, the model had issues and they do not believe that the early engineers invention would have have been successful due to restrictions of weight. Although his sketch had errors, the helicopter could have not been at such a modernization if it was not for those small sketches. With many of Leonardo da Vinci ideas they were constructed through designs and imagination rather than material. His ideas were mapped out rather than built. Another example of this related to his knowledge of aviation is the parachute. His parachute is not a replica of the modern parachute. Instead of a rounded canopy, it was triangular with fabric covering a wooden foundation. This design sparked a few questions. The triangular canopy was hesitated on because it was not certain that it would create enough air resistance to float. Many also questioned if the material used would be too heavy for floating. These questions eventually got answered in 2000 by daredevil Adrian Nichols. Nichols built a replica based on da Vinci’s sketches and notes. His testing of the model led to success, the sketch worked just as it was intended. In fact, the daredevil believed that da Vinci’s parachute has a smoother travel than a rounded parachute used modernly. This continuous interest of aviation would not be possible without the key ingredient; wind. The participation of wind led to another invention. The anemometer is a design for measuring the speed of wind. The purpose of this instrument was to find out the direction of the wind to help with flight. His hope was that, eventually, the device could be used to give people insight into the direction of the wind before attempting flight. Da Vinci’s design had an arched frame with a rectangular piece of wood hanging in the center by a hinge. The piece of wood raises inside the arched frame when the wind blows. The scale on the frame helped measure the force of the wind by the highest point that the wood reached on the scale. This design was just another invention by the brilliant engineer related to the area of aviation
Leonardo da Vinci was a man that detested war. Even harming people or nature in general. It is believed that he is one of the first vegetarians in history, he would often purchase birds in the marketplace and after studying their wing structure, set them free. Unfortunately for da Vinci he did not have lots of opportunities in his time to help financially. This led to dealing with bloodthirst and power obsessed leaders. He needed work, so he used his brilliant mind to assist his boss by coming up with machines capable of inflicting significant damage upon the opponents. In the time of da Vinci, Italy consisted of many independent groups. Each city state was trying to gain control over all the others for more power. As such this led to the need of weaponry. This need created a path for da Vinci to invent some of the most destructive war machines ever designed. The first design was the 33-Barreled Organ. Da Vinci recognized a problem with the cannons at the time, they took way too long to load which could cause many risks with delay during war time. As such da Vinci designed a solution. The 33 Barreled Organ was built with multi-barreled guns that were able to be loaded and fired efficiently and simultaneously. The design featured 33 small guns joined together and divided into three rows of eleven guns. During war, every gun was loaded on the organ and they started with the first row of eleven. After, the platform would rotate to the next round of fires. This was efficient in time and multitasking. As one row is being used, the earlier one is being loaded for its next turn. Repeated fire without delay was a major upperhand for the group of soldiers. Another machine designed to be help dominance on the field is the armoured car. The armoured car was the first tank like machine that was able to move in any angle and attached to a certain amount of weapons. This famous invention was a vehicle with light cannons arranged on a platform shaped in a circle and planted all on the wheels with flexible movement. The platform is sheltered by strong surface and attached with metal plates, which was to be slanted to better deflect enemy fire. There was also a feature helped for sight for the soldier. The power of motion for this weapon come from men. A number of men are necessary to turn cranks inside and spin the outer wheels. Motion of the machine was to be powered by eight men inside of the tank who would constantly turn cranks to spin the wheels. Despite the detailed and powerful design, the tank was not perfect in use. Forward motion was impossible with the design as the interior cranks went in opposite directions. Modern engineers have a believe that da Vinci’s inserted the flaw intentionally to take away the purpose of killing. The next invention was more intended to emerge fear rather than killing. Da Vinci’s creative artistic side of his outshines through this design as he contributed the psychological effects of weapons on the field. The artist recognized that creating fear through the enemies is just as critical as the inflicted damage. The intimidating design was to cover twenty seven yards across with three wheels on each side and a flexible bow. The crossbow was not necessarily intended for arrows, rather it seems to be for large stones and bombs. To activate the machine, a men spins a crank to retract the bow and fill it. After preparation, a holding pin is knocked out and the weapon will fire. All these inventions would not have been assembled if it was not for the creative hand drawings that documented his imagination. His artistic talents enabled him to record his ideas for all concepts. Every sketch, whether small or large, had enough details and elaboration to create the image from the paper into reality.
Da Vinci’s outstanding accomplishments in engineering would not be possible without his art skills. He made the world a canvas and spread his imagination. Many of da Vinci’s drawings addressed farther than just mechanical concepts. They also discussed the challenges of anatomy. Da Vinci’s first couple of anatomical studies were solely focused on the skeleton and muscles. The engineer proceeded to divide the parts of the body to study and discover the role of each mechanical activity. Eventually he dealt with internal organs, especially the brain, lung and heart. These studies were recorded in his anatomical drawings as he took experiments, like dissecting, and replicated on paper accurately visible. The quality of Leonardo’s anatomical studies that have passed on, build the foundation of the basic principles of modern anatomical knowledge. It is worth recognizing, however, that during in his time, da Vinci remained his studies private. He did not search for any title or attention from his discoveries, rather he created his own list of accomplishments. Through this variety of research he developed artistic skills leading to his path of innovation. The greatest engineers are favoured when they have talent. This artistic characteristics led to strong hand sketches that had so much detail that flaws were recognized even without the physical machine. Through these hand drawings, his creativity and imagination shone through and instantly contributes to the innovations that is known as engineering today.
It is evident that the mind of Leonardo da Vinci is greater than just the world of art. The world had no limits to his mind. The famous engineer was an innovative thinker who viewed his surroundings as his valuable playground with constant possibilities. From his bright mind sprang designs of aviation, instruments of war and the challenges of anatomy using the power of hand sketches. All his ideas were centuries ahead of societies comprehension, not getting the recognition he deserved in his time. If da Vinci lived in modern time, his ideas would have been considered astounding.
Engineering. Leonardo da Vinci. 2006.
https://www.engineering.com/Library/ArticlesPage/tabid/85/ArticleID/34/Leonardo-da-Vinci.aspx Accessed 30 September 2018
History. Leonardo da Vinci. 2009.
https://www.history.com/topics/renaissance/leonardo-da-vinci Accessed 30 September 2018
Leonardo da Vinci Inventions. Inventions.
http://www.da-vinci-inventions.com/davinci-inventions.aspx Accessed 2 October 2018
Leonardo da Vinci’s Inventions. The Inventions of the Greatest Mind that has ever walked the Earth.
http://www.leonardodavincisinventions.com/war-machines/ Accessed 2 October 2018
Encyclopedia Britannica. Leonardo da Vinci.
https://www.britannica.com/biography/Leonardo-da-Vinci/Anatomical-studies-and-drawings Accessed 2 October 2018