DA VINCI: AN UNSUNG GENIUS

I was checking out Dan Brown’s books when my sight suddenly fell upon a book named “THE DA VINCI CODE”. The book is about a murder mystery whose trail leads to the age old works of 15th century polymath genius Leonardo da Vinci. The novel intrigued me with its really factual as well as fictional world. This increased my further interests in the works of Da Vinci, which upon further research and reading made me realize what a great genius the man was during a time when there were almost no major scientific discoveries or inventions.

By Francesco Melzi – File:Francesco_Melzi_-Portrait_of_Leonardo-_WGA14795.jpg, Public Domain,

If you go through the Wikipedia page of this man, you’ll get really depressed as to what are you doing with your life. I had the same situation as I went through his wiki page which said Da Vinci was an Italian polymath (a person of wide knowledge) .He was almost everywhere i.e. he was simultaneously indulged in the fields of chemistry, civil engineering, mathematics , physics, zoology, optics, geometry, astronomy( don’t confuse it with astrology).Though he is widely renowned for his mysterious painting Mona Lisa and The Last Supper ,he possessed really vast range in science.

DA VINCI’s THE VITRUVIAN MAN :

One of his paintings called The Vitruvian Man was the study of proportions of a human body which shows how he could blend art and science together, though he himself believed that the proportionality found in a human body or the art with which a human body is constructed can be applied to the construction and design of buildings and earthly objects. The reason Da Vinci was so fascinated by all these kinds of things was that he was really exposed to a very vast range of technical skills such as set construction, metallurgy, paint chemistry, drafting etc. This further helped him invent innumerable instruments or objects such as parachute which he invented even before Wright Brothers invented Aeroplane. He also designed the idea for a helicopter, an armoured fighting vehicle, a theory about plate techtonics and so on.

By Leonardo da Vinci – Leonardo Da Vinci – Photo from www.lucnix.be. 2007-09-08 (photograph). Photograpy:This image is the work of Luc ViatourPlease credit it with: Luc Viatour / https://Lucnix.be in the immediate vicinity of the image.

     

BLENDING OF MATHS AND ARTS:

He would also blend art and mathematics by using Linear Perspective in his paintings, the technique which was also used by some of many painters like Filippo Brunelleschi, Piero delle Francesca and many others. Linear perspective in the easiest sense is that in a picture everything will appear as it would have appeared by our normal eye if it were real. That means if an object is far away from us, it will appear as smaller than the nearer object. This exact concept used in his paintings is called linear perspective or point projection. This was how these painters including Leonardo used to blend art and mathematics together.

By Leonardo da Vinci – High resolution scan by http://www.haltadefinizione.com/ in collaboration with the Italian ministry of culture.

THE DIVINE PROPORTION:

Another concept Da Vinci showed us through the Vitruvian Man is The Divine Proportion or the Golden Number or PHI (not to be confused with Pi).The proportion is 1.618. Da Vinci was the first to show that the human body is made of building blocks whose proportional ratios always equals to PHI or 1.618. That means if we first measure the distance from the tip of our head to the floor and then divide this distance by the distance from our belly button to the floor, we get a number which is exactly equals to 1.618. You can yourself measure it as you would have a lot of time during your self-quarantine ,right?  This number also appears when we perform the same for hip to floor divided by knee to floor. Finger joints, toes, spinal divisions. Everywhere there is PHI. Hence called the golden number or the divine proportion.

So, this way Leonardo da Vinci was undoubtedly a rare genius who should be ranked among the Einstein, the Newtons and the Teslas.

Author: Som Abhisek.

Leonardo Da Vinci : Celebrating the Science

This article is part of our Series Science Celebration

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