Sunday, September 12, 2010

Da Vinci the genius

There's an exhibition on Leonardo da Vinci at the National Geographic Museum (Washington D.C.) called "Da Vinci - The Genius." I felt weird about the title at first, mainly because I really have problems with the word genius. Plus, I would be more comfortable if it says a genius instead of the. But after visiting the exhibition, I wouldn't protest any more. We all know Mona Lisa and The Last Supper, but a flying machine? A self-propelled car? Projector? Submarine? Old Leo invented all those more than 500 years ago! I have to agree, Leonard da Vinci is the genius.

In addition to painting, Leonardo also excelled in science and engineering. A vast number of inventions appeared as sketches in his journals, but he never actually built the majority of what he designed. Working from Leonardo’s drawings, modern Italian Artisans have faithfully crafted interactive and life-size machines and put together this handsome exhibition to show the great Renaissance master's achievements as an inventor.

Flight section
Parachute, 1483
The Aerial Screw, first ever concept for a helicopter.
Inclinometer (Level)
Wax Hygrometer
Civil machines section
Self-propelled Car (powered by spring)
Pole Erecting Machine
Screw-cutting Machine
Spot Light or Projector
Diving Gear / Breathing Equipment; Lifebuoy on the wall in the back
Paddle Boat
Anatomical studies and interaction section
Bevel Gears
Ball Bearings
Last but not least, here's a video showing how the "cam hammer" works (special thanks to the stranger who agreed to operate the machine):

These machines may work or may not work, but they are full of imagination nonetheless. I can totally see the Renaissance man sketching in his notebook like crazy, with lots of "what-ifs" in his head. He was curious, not afraid of dreams. When he had an idea, he strove to recreate his fantasies in reality, while others would easily dismiss it as impossible.


Yvon Bayonne said...

Do you think it's possible to one up him? Like being a Leonardo Da Vinci 2.0

That's my ridiculous quest...

flenge5463 said...

I doubt it. Like Frank Zappa, he was a 'one off'.