Laura's Blog

Leonardo’s Top 5 Most Imaginative Inventions

April 11, 2016

leonardo-da-vinci-inventions.2.jpg

In addition to being a brilliant artist, Leonardo was also an engineer and inventor. Many of his inventions were far ahead of their time—not actually realized until hundreds of years later. However, the sketches for these inventions have been well preserved in his notebooks, leaving generations of scholars to marvel at his brilliant mind. Here are some of my personal favorites:

Flying Machine

Da Vinci’s notebooks are full of notes on birds and flight—he seemed so determined to fly. One of his most famous inventions reflects this desire to soar: the flying machine. This machine was modeled after the anatomy of birds and bats. The designs featured a pair of enormous wings connected to a wooden frame, inside of which a pilot would lie facedown and move the wings up and down via a crank. Unfortunately, this was one of Leonardo’s many ideas that never materialized—and the first successful human flight didn’t happen until approximately 400 years later.

Helicopter 

Similarly to the flying machine, Da Vinci designed the first sketches for a helicopter.  These sketches seemed to be inspired while he was studying the seeds of the Maple Tree, which spin as they are dropping.  The main blade was about 6 feet in diameter, and was designed as a human powered machine—two men would stand in the central circular platform, and each man would take hold of a wooden shaft and walk around the central shaft.  This would rotate the blades of the helicopter to produce flight—unfortunately for Leonardo, engines had not been invented yet, so there was no way of creating enough power to lift against the force of gravity.

Scuba Suit 

Da Vinci actually wasn’t the first inventor to attempt an invention that allowed humans to breathe underwater, but his was particularly detailed. The suit was constructed almost entirely of leather and consisted of a jacket, pants, and a mask with glass goggles. The leather jacket had a bulge to store air. The suit also featured a storage container for urine, as well as various pockets for underwater tools. It sounds implausible, but a scuba suit was recently built using Leonardo’s design—and it worked!

Armored Car

In seemingly direct opposition to the more gentle sides of his personality, Leonardo da Vinci also designed many war machines. One of his wealthiest patrons was Ludovico Sforza, the Duke of Milan, who was constantly at war. One of Leonardo’s designs for Sforza was a kind of armored vehicle consisting of a wagon propelled by people and covered in sheets of metal. Slits in the metal would allow Italian soldiers to shoot without being struck by enemy fire. The drawings in Leonardo’s notebook for this armored vehicle are almost reminiscent of a giant turtle shell. The armored vehicle was never built—and armored vehicles did not appear on the battlefield until World War I. However, some engineers believe that Leonardo’s prototype would have been more effective and safer than the first tanks that appeared in modern warfare.

Robot

One of da Vinci’s other inventions for Sforza was a “robotic knight” that could wave its arms, move its neck, and open and close its mouth. An external hand crank and an internal gear mechanism controlled the robotic knight. Like so many of Leonardo’s inventions, the robotic knight was put aside and forgotten. However, in 2002, Mark Rosheim, an engineer who worked with NASA and Lockheed Martin, built a working version of Leonardo’s robotic knight—so this invention would have actually worked!

 

 

 

Other Blog Posts


Thoughts on Veteran's Day

Posted by laura on November 11, 2016



Leonardo the Writer

Posted by laura on April 19, 2016


A Live Look at Verrocchio

Posted by laura on April 18, 2016


The Teacher Behind Leonardo

Posted by laura on April 16, 2016


Happy Birthday, Leonardo da Vinci!

Posted by laura on April 15, 2016



The Town of Vinci

Posted by laura on April 12, 2016


Leonardo’s Top 5 Most Imaginative Inventions

Posted by laura on April 11, 2016


Valentine's Day During the Renaissance

Posted by laura on February 14, 2016


Valentine's Day Activities!

Posted by laura on February 8, 2016


Historical #WCW: Artemisia Gentileschi

Posted by laura on February 3, 2016


Anniversary of the Joust

Posted by laura on January 29, 2016


Great Falls Friends & Neighbors Event

Posted by laura on January 14, 2016


My New Literary Friends to the North

Posted by laura on January 4, 2016


Ti Amo, Piombino

Posted by laura on December 28, 2015


The Holidays in Renaissance Florence

Posted by laura on December 23, 2015


Florentine Decorations

Posted by laura on December 15, 2015


Just in Time for Holiday Shopping!

Posted by laura on December 4, 2015


A Very Renaissance Thanksgiving

Posted by laura on November 26, 2015


NCTE Thanks

Posted by laura on November 23, 2015


#TBT: Another guest blog!

Posted by laura on November 19, 2015


Guest Blog: Researching DA VINCI'S TIGER

Posted by laura on November 17, 2015


NCTE 2015

Posted by laura on November 17, 2015


Exciting News!

Posted by laura on November 13, 2015


So What Did Leonardo Really Look Like and Act Like?

Posted by laura on November 9, 2015


Get Your Plato On!

Posted by laura on November 7, 2015


The Ambassador

Posted by laura on November 2, 2015


#TBT: My love of horses

Posted by laura on October 29, 2015


The Lady Behind the Portrait

Posted by laura on October 28, 2015


LORENZO, Il Magnifico: The defacto ruler of Florence

Posted by laura on October 26, 2015


Throwback Thursday: My first trip to Florence

Posted by laura on October 22, 2015


The Kick-Butt Abbess

Posted by laura on October 21, 2015


Santa Croce: The Site of the Joust!

Posted by laura on October 20, 2015


Meet Florence’s “Prince of Youth”

Posted by laura on October 19, 2015


Some Loves Start Early!

Posted by laura on October 15, 2015


The Duomo Bells

Posted by laura on October 14, 2015


Leonardo's Other Female Portraits

Posted by laura on October 14, 2015


6 Things You May Not Know About Leonardo Da Vinci

Posted by laura on October 12, 2015


Epic Reads Discussion Guide

Posted by laura on October 8, 2015


Talk at the National Gallery of Art!

Posted by laura on October 7, 2015


First Reviews for Da Vinci's Tiger!

Posted by laura on September 27, 2015


NEW COVER for DA VINCI'S TIGER

Posted by laura on August 13, 2015


YA Sync Free Download of Under a War Torn Sky LIVE!

Posted by laura on August 6, 2015


Mark Your Calendars

Posted by laura on July 6, 2015


The Beauty of Synchronicity

Posted by laura on May 18, 2015


70th Anniversary of VE Day

Posted by laura on May 8, 2015


Why Write A Trilogy?

Posted by laura on April 14, 2015


Valentine's Day

Posted by laura on February 8, 2015


Listening to the Audiobook of Under a War Torn Sky

Posted by laura on February 3, 2015


A Wonderful Fall

Posted by adminC on October 29, 2014


close