At age 17, Leonardo Da Vinci went to become an apprentice of painting under the instruction of Andrea del Verrochio in Florence. This is where his appreciation of science really started. He used science to enhance his paintings and was right away intrigued. While he learned about art, his interests started to broaden. He would stroll along the banks of the Arno, and would study the nature around him. He sketched much of the world around him, studying rock formations, caves and fossils. These led to his scientific career.
From 1478 to 1482, he obtained his own studio, and later went to Milan. There, he had a great variety of jobs including designing artillery and planning river system diversions for the city. This is really where he started to dive into the field of science and learn more and more.
SCIENCE OF THE TIME
For someone to understand his inventions and scientific work, you must understand his time. The only way a scientist obtained his information was either through the Bible, or from the writings from previous scientists. There was a crazy belief that any research that was obtained through experimentation was full of errors. He was the first to see clearly that knowledge of science would have to come from repeated experiments done, not unproven ideas. He was also the first scientist that correlated mathematics and science. One of the reasons that he did fail in scientific investigations was because many of the mathematic laws that he needed had not yet been discovered. Another problem was that there were no accurate instruments for his measurements. Despite these holdbacks, he was thought of as a real pioneer.
Another area of science he studied was anatomy. In 1489, he started an all new notebook on human anatomy. He made crude sketches of all parts of body and some truly amazing and wonderful ones. I made observations on such parts as the eye socket, the optic nerve entering the brain, and complete human tendons, muscles, and the skeletal system. After that, for 20 years, he basically gave up anatomy and moved on. Later, toward the end of his life, King Louis XII of France asked him to accompany him to Milan, and he went willingly. In about 1508, he continued investigating parts of the human body and how they worked once again. By then, he had made a large breakthrough in his scientific career by building a theory of how the four powers in the world worked, (which he had found to be movement, weight, force and percussion.) He was about to apply them to the greatest of all sciences, and by far the most fascinating, the phenomenon called the human body.
To accomplish what was yearning to know about the human body, he had to dissect about thirty corpses. He put this beside him right away and was overcome with the beauty and wonder of what he found. His notebooks that he used were teeming with notes that showed his admiration. Beside one of his drawings of the heart, he wrote, “Marvelous instrument invented by the Supreme Master”. He was very clever in finding ways to explore the body. For instance, He used his knowledge and experience as a sculptor to help him by injecting the organs with wax to make plaster casts. The arms and the legs also helped him explain what he had discovered about the lever. He dissected every muscle and tugged and pulled at it to observe how it worked. One of his favorite muscles were the biceps, which he found not only it bent the arm, but it turned the palm upward! He also proceeded made a model of the legs made of copper wires connected to the bones to make a skeleton.
Leonardo also worked with physics and perspective. He used a lot of his perspective ideas in paintings and sketches. He used physics with many of his inventions. To learn more about his inventions, go to the invention page.
His impact on society after he died is hard to determine. One of his great contributions was that he started the Scientific Revolution. He revolutionized the way that scientists have researched ever since. The method has been used to study the world around us by scientists of the posterity for years to come. Much of his work in many fields and his scientific method fueled scientists for years to come.
And with all of his discoveries came the things he did not achieve. If he had had the mathematics and accurate measuring instruments, his inventions might have been boundless with possibility. And because of this, many think that he is not as influential as other people in history are. One quote by Michael H. Hart in The 100 Most Influential People says this:
“His talent and reputation seem greatly in excess of his actual influence upon history. In his notebooks, Leonardo left behind sketches of many modern inventions such as airplanes and submarines. While these notebooks attest to his brilliance and originality, they had virtually no influence upon the development of science. In the first place, Leonardo did not actually build models of those inventions. In the second place, although the ideas were very clever, it does not appear that the inventions would have actually worked. It is one thing to think of the idea of a submarine or airplane, it is another and very much harder thing to work out a precise, detailed, practical design and to construct a model that actually works.”
Because his books weren’t published for centuries to come and he wrote in “mirror-writing” his impact was too late, many say. I believe that despite these holdbacks he was one of the smartest, a literal genious, and revolutionary people in history. He know so much in so many fields it was truly remarkable