"The State of The World" Number 41
Complete Index Of All Issues
Leonardo da Vinci's View Of Things To Come
Leonardo da Vinci (born 1452 in the Republic of Florence, died 1519 in Amboise, France) is world famous as a great artist. His Mona Lisa (painted over a few years from about 1503 to 1506) is not only also famous - it is extremely valuable. Appraised today at over $100 million, it held the Guinness World Record for the highest insured value of any painting. It is today housed (and no doubt highly guarded) at the Louvre Museum in Paris, France.
Leonardo da Vinci also produced numerous other famous paintings, such as The Last Supper (one of the most-copied religious images). His Vitruvian Man has also become an iconic masterpiece.
Leonardo da Vinci was moreover a polymath ("an individual whose knowledge spans a significant number of subjects"). His interests and talents spanned many fields of research and knowledge, including music, architecture, engineering, science (including military applications of science - much of Leonardo da Vinci's life was during period of war), cartography, anatomy and geology, among others.
Perhaps because of his artistic talents (in a time when photography did not yet exist), Leonardo da Vinci was given access to (as an observer and as a participant) numerous dissections of cadavers. Those drawings produced not only images, but understanding of the function of various organs and muscular systems - some of which were not "discovered" until the modern era.
Much of Leonardo da Vinci's life was during periods of war. Like scientists through all ages, he devoted much of his time to war machines.
These included a steam-powered canon / catapult system (the principle of steam catapults was revived by Britain's Royal Navy in the 1940s for their aircraft carriers, beginning with HMS Perseus, and the U.S. Navy also now uses steam catapults on the many aircraft carriers of their imperial fleet that took the place of Britain's after the Second World War. France also uses the technology on their aircraft carrier Charles de Gaulle).
Leonardo da Vinci also designed workable parachutes (at a time when there were yet no aircraft) and a prototype helicopter that never flew because engines hadn't been invented yet (ironically, the first heavier than air aircraft used a steam-powered engine; see Who Was The First To Fly?).
One of Leonardo da Vinci's most futuristic inventions was his "robot" - a remote-controlled (by cables and pulleys) medieval suit of armour that could stand and move its arms. The design was found in one of da Vinci's sketch books that was discovered in the 1950s.