March 2009 - Who was Leonardo da Vinci?
What do you know about Leonardo da Vinci?
My wife and I are traveling to Italy in March to visit our daughter who is studying in Florence for the semester. Florence is the city where Leonardo da Vinci lived most of his adult life.
For a number of years, I’ve conducted critical thinking seminars based on da Vinci’s approach to learning and creativity so eloquently detailed in a book called How To Think Like Leonardo da Vinci by Michael Gelb.
For those of you who are not familiar with the greatest genius in human history, he was an artist, musician, inventor, military engineer and scientist. Here are some startling facts about Leonardo da Vinci:
• He pioneered the use of oil paints.
• Mona Lisa and The Last Supper are recognized universally as two of the greatest paintings ever produced.
• Renowned architect and sculptor.
• Brilliant musician – flute, lyre, and other instruments. He sang and composed music.
• Made plans for a flying machine, a helicopter, parachute, the extendable ladder (still used by fire departments today), the three-speed gear shift, the bicycle, an adjustable monkey wrench, a snorkel, hydraulic jacks, the worlds first revolving stage, locks for a canal system, a water-powered alarm clock, a therapeutic armchair, and a crane for clearing ditches.
• Made plans for weapons that would be deployed 400 hundred years later: the armored tank, machine gun, mortar, and guided missile, submarine.
• He was the first to draw parts of the body in cross section.
• He drew the most detailed and comprehensive representations of humans and horses.
• He conducted unprecedented scientific studies of the child in the womb.
• He was the first to make casts of the brain and the ventricles of the heart.
• He described the gravitational attraction of the earth on some plants and the attraction of plants toward the sun.
• He noted that the age of a tree corresponds to the number of rings in its cross section.
• He was the first to describe the system of leaf arrangement in plants.
Whew! What an amazing person he was and I'm eager to return to Florence and walk the streets where he lived.