10 Visionary Inventions by Leonardo da Vinci
With his love and fancies of flying, it is not surprising that his genius should produce the first ever plane design capable of actual flight. Had he actually built the glider and then made it work, there would have been flying machines a lot sooner in history than the Wright brother’s success at Kitty Hawk. Much sooner, in fact, than perhaps humanity could have handled. It would certainly have changed events in battles and wars that could have led to a much different world than today. Like many of his most precious designs, he left out and even altered certain aspects so that no one could take his notes and produce the results without being intelligent enough to make the necessary modifications and additions. Perhaps we were lucky that his notes disappeared for so long a period after his death.
4. Spring Powered Automobile (First Mechanical Computer)
Leonardo da Vinci designed the automobile. With it, he created what could be considered the first mechanical computer, designed to plot the automobile’s course. The automobile was designed to work like a modern toy car, in which it needs to be pushed back to coil the springs. Once released the vehicle would follow a preset direction determined by the arrangement of its springs and gears. He envisioned with such amazing clarity the future of travel and his drawings were so clearly detailed that in modern times his work was recreated and it worked exactly as planned. That is quite an amazing feat for someone born in the 14th century.
Long before Franz Reichelt plummeted to his gory death in 1912 testing the first parachute, (See the Top Ten Historical Bizarre Deaths) Leonardo da Vinci developed on paper the first parachute. While there is evidence of other designs prior to da Vinci’s, his was tested in 2000 and was found to be more effective than modern day parachutes that have a hole in the center, which is believed to aide in maneuverability. Leonardo knew more about the workings of things in theory than are incorporated in many practical applications that exist today. Of course, to Leonardo da Vinci, the parachute was more of a means to flying than to stop one from falling.
2. Machine Gun
Hiram Maxim invented the machine gun in 1914. Before him, Mr. Gatling in 1862 produced a rapid-fire gun aptly named the Gatling gun. While these two gentlemen bask in the glory, the very first machine gun was designed by Leonardo da Vinci 400 years earlier. Its design was simple and yet unique to its time. Back then, you almost had to have a reload time in order for the barrel of a gun to cool off enough to be used again. Da Vinci stacked three tiers of eleven barrels in a row, on top of each other. You would load all 33 barrels and fire them one row at a time. When you fired the second tier, you would load the first. Then you would fire the third row and load the second. In this way, you always had one row ready to fire, one row ready to load, and one row cooling. It is important to note here that while Leonardo was a genius at advanced warfare, he was not necessarily ruthless or bloodthirsty. He looked upon it as patriotism and job security.
One mean scary machine
In 1495, Leonardo da Vinci created an actual robot man, which was named Codex Huygens in 1950. This surprising construct could stand and sit, walk, open and close its mouth, move its head from side to side and raise its arms. Leonardo built it using the German Italian armor style of the times. What makes this invention so incredible today is the detail of the wrist structure in Leonardo’s notes. NASA’s robotics team had hit a wall when developing a robot that could man a Mars station when humans could not. Without the full range of wrist movements of a human, the robot would not be able to perform many of the functions required and NASA could not come up with a design that actually worked until they found and followed his notes, which were strewn throughout his work in no particular order and mixed in with other inventions.
By all accounts, Leonardo da Vinci was a man who was born well before his time. His notes have either inspired the making of many wonderful creations or foretold the future. Either way, the world will not likely see the likes of him again.