Without a doubt, there literally isn’t a single person that hasn’t at least once heard of Leonardo da Vinci. When they hear his name, most people immediately think of Mona Lisa. However, he was much more than a painter.
He was also a sculptor, military engineer, architect, and inventor. To put it simply – da Vinci was a man ahead of his time. He wasn’t afraid to move boundaries and contemplate things others wouldn’t dare. Due to this, Leonardo da Vinci’s name is often mentioned even today, centuries after his death.
Many people are only familiar with some of his most famous works and have no idea what other things he created. Since this is the case, in this article, we are going to introduce you to some of his inventions that changed the world. Given that we are only going to focus on his work, you should read more and learn about other inventions that became reality.
Even though, for a long time, Sebastian Lenormand was credited for inventing that parachute, some evidence has been collected that prove that actually da Vinci was the first to think of it. It is no secret that he was fascinated by the possibility of a man flying.
His sketch shows a pyramid-shaped wooden structure cloaked with linen fabric that would slow down a man’s movement towards the ground. This entire structure was about 22 feet (7 meters) long. As he himself wrote: “(a man) will be able to throw himself down from any great height without suffering any injury”.
However, taking into consideration that the technology of that time wasn’t advanced enough, this invention was made, for the first time, in 1783. Clearly, by this year, Leonardo’s sketch was changed and improved which means that the original one never saw the light of the day.
Still, in 2000, Adrian Nichols built the parachute according to da Vinci’s initial calculations, and even though it was greeted with skepticism, it worked perfectly.
While on the subject of Leonardo’s fascination with flying, we have to tell you that he was actually the first person that designed a flying machine operated by man. For this invention, called “Ornithopter”, da Vinci got inspired while dissecting birds and bats and studying their bodies.
According to his sketches, da Vinci invented the machine that consisted of a wooden frame and two extending wings that had a span of around 33 feet (10 meters). A person would lie down and literally pedal crank that was connected to the entire system thus flying.
Needless to say, this was another invention ahead of its time. Obviously, the main difference between this and modern aircraft is the absence of engine so if it had been made, it could have only flown mid-air.
Aerial screw (helicopter)
In the 1480s, da Vinci created a design of a machine that if it reached enough speed and rotation would be able to fly. Of course, this one was also powered by man, like the previously described flying machine. There is some evidence that he made small flying models, but that’s it.
The mechanism is now used in modern-day helicopters, so it is natural that da Vinci is credited as the inventor of it.
How fascinating is it to think that the first diving suit was design hundreds of years ago? What makes it even more interesting is the fact that da Vinci was employed by the military to come up with a new invention that is going to help the soldiers attack the enemy’s ship underwater.
The entire suit was made out of leather, with a face mask that had two tubes that led to a cork which would be above the water. There was even a small device that resembled a balloon inside a face mask. This would allow divers to submerge or surface the water.
Interestingly, even though da Vinci created this suit for the army, it wasn’t needed at the time, which means that it wasn’t ever completely created and used.
This is another da Vinci’s design commissioned by the army. He envisioned it as a vehicle that was operated by eight men and that had 36 guns. However, it seems that its mechanism wasn’t fully developed because the front and back wheels would move in opposite directions.
In a documentary for BBC, scientists corrected this error in order to make it work. Intriguingly, many historians believe that da Vinci left this error in his drawings on purpose. He didn’t want to create a war machine and risk it falling into the wrong people’s hands.
In one of his notebooks, a design for a weapon that he said would “hurl small stones like a storm with the smoke of these causing great terror to the enemy, and great loss and confusion”. Even though he hated the war, like many people before and after him, he worked on designing these weapons with the solemn goal of serving his country.
The machine gun called “33-barreled-organ” would be able to fire 11 muskets one after another. This invention was also never made, but we are certain that at that time it would be another lethal weapon.
The robotic knight
There is no point in saying that this invention was far ahead of its time. Da Vinci used his knowledge of human anatomy (think about the Vitruvian man) to design the first humanoid robot. It was created in 1495 and it was first displayed during a gala hosted by Duke Ludovico Sforza in Milan.
Based on the sketches, at least those that weren’t lost, this ‘robot’ had a special mechanism that allowed him to sit down and stand up, move its head, and lift heavy weights (in this case gala visitors).
Once again, people were intrigued by this design. In 2002 Mark Rosheim, a robotics scientist known for his work for NASA managed to create an entire robot using da Vinci’s drawings. Does it come as a surprise, taking into consideration the previously mentioned designs, that the original sketches were effective, meaning that this robot was able to move without trouble and even wave?