Without a doubt, Leonardo da Vinci (1452 – 1519) is the embodiment of the term Renaissance man. His genius crossed into so many different areas—artist, architect, inventor, and master of all things scientific. All this from a man who had no formal education beyond basic reading, writing, and math.
Until the 2003 publication of Dan Brown's THE DA VINCI CODE, he was best known as the artist who painted two of the world's most famous paintings—Mona Lisa and The Last Supper. But there was so much more to him than his artistic creations.
His genius knew no bounds. With a combination of intellect and imagination, he created (at least on paper) such inventions as the bicycle, helicopter, and an airplane that he based on the physiology and flying capability of a bat.
So, without further ado, here is a list of Leonardo da Vinci's ten best ideas, in no particular order.
THE VITRUVIAN MAN
Thanks to Da Vinci, this drawing is considered one of the most recognizable figures on earth. He modeled his perfect human form after the proportions set forth by ancient Roman architect Vitruvius.
While the scientists of his time explained inland and mountain top mollusk fossils as something leftover from the Bible's Great Flood, Leonardo disagreed. He believed the mountains were once coastline before many years of gradually shifting upwards.
THE SELF-PROPELLED CAR
His designs for a self-propelled vehicle were revolutionary for his time. His wooden vehicle moved by the interaction of springs and geared wheels. In 2004, scientists at a museum in Florence, Italy, built a replica. It worked just as Da Vinci had intended.
THE IDEAL CITY
Living in plague-ravaged Milan, he envisioned a more efficient city. His architectural drawings were very detailed and even included horse stables and fresh air vents. To the disappointment of many of Milan's modern day residents, there's provision for a soccer stadium.
THE AERIAL SCREW
Even though most modern scientists agree it would never have gotten off the ground, Da Vinci's helicopter design is still one of his most famous. It was meant to be operated by a four-man crew and probably inspired by the windmill toy popular in his time.
THE TRIPLE-BARRELED CANNON
Da Vinci's distaste for conflict didn't stop him from coming up with designs for more efficient cannons. His triple-barrel design would have been a deadly weapon of war.
THE WINGED GLIDER
His imagination soared with ideas for various types of flying machines, including gliders with flappable wings. His open-shelled glider model had seats and gears for the pilot.
THE REVOLVING BRIDGE
As a fan of the quick getaway, he thought his revolving bridge would be best used in warfare. His design made of light weight yet sturdy materials affixed to a rolling rope-and-pulley system and allowed an army to change locations on a moment's notice.
Da Vinci had a true fascination with the oceans and had many designs for aquatic exploration. His diving suit was made from leather and connected to a snorkel made of cane and a bell that floated on the surface.
For whatever reason, he liked mirror writing with most of his journals written in reverse.