Awesome Minds: Leonardo da Vinci

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Leonardo da Vinci

Very few people in this world can compete with Leonardo da Vinci for the title of The Supreme Genius of all ages. He is a true polymath and is regarded as a renaissance man. He is one of the most famous and most talented artists the world has ever seen. His artworks include the very famous and most valuable Mona Lisa, The Last Supper, Vitruvian Man, Virgin Of The Rocks and many many more. He was not only an artist he was an engineer, an anatomist and a chronicler of science. His innovations were so advanced and so ahead of his time that even now, with this vast amount of technology at our hands we are still learning from his documentaries. Unfortunately, most of his scientific work documented in at least 7000 pages of notes remained lost or hidden around the world for centuries after his death. And he didn’t know Latin, so most of his work didn’t make an impact on the then scientific world as Latin was the main language used by the scientific community back then. So he couldn’t publish his works to the world even if he wanted to. As a result of this, despite his pioneering research he couldn’t make a considerable impact on the science and technology of that time.

Mona Lisa

The Last Supper

Leonardo was born on April 15, 1452 in Vinci, Italy. Yes, ‘da Vinci’ means ‘of Vinci’. Much against our expectations Leonardo did not receive any form of education from anyone except for normal reading, writing and basic math. He was very much interested in painting and hence became an apprentice of the famous artist Andrea del Verrocchio where he remained until his mid 20s. By that time he became a master in painting and sculpting. He then went on to painting the Mona Lisa, The Last Supper and many more famous artworks.

In late 1400’s when Leonardo was coming up as an artist most of the world was devoid of real science. All of the peoples believes were based on bible or from the ancient philosophers and a lot of which was often superstitious or completely untrue. Leonardo did not bother about those believes, he was all about experimentation, observation and reasoning. But the best ability of Leonardo was to observe and meticulously record his experiments and thoughts in words and graphic illustrations of artwork.

Parachute

Ornithopter

He was obsessed with flight. He observed various birds and analysed how their feathers and muscles worked together to make them fly. He thought if birds can fly then humans can too. He documented all of his observations and recordings in notebooks called codices. In early 1500s he put forward a notebook which contained all about flight of birds. It was called the ‘Codex on the Flight of Birds’. It has over 35,000 words and 500 sketches related to flight, balance, gravity, the properties of air and his famous flying machine ideas. He was the designer of the first parachute and he also designed a flying machine called Ornithopter which was proved to be working. All this happened 100s of years  before the world could ever see any kind of progress towards an actual flying machine.

Underwater breathing mask

He was also obsessed with all states of water. He drew plans for different kinds of water wheels, steam powered cannons, humidity measuring devices and various machines that could work on different states of water. He also designed an underwater breathing mask and a submarine.

He made a lot of war machines which were proven functioning and genius. Leonardo may be the best inventor the world has ever seen or will ever see, his ideas often were beyond the technology of his age or required a lot of money which he did not have. But none of these inventions ever combined his passion for art and science more than his interest in Anatomy, which is perhaps his greatest scientific contribution.

He dissected more than 30 human bodies. He sketched with great detail the renderings of muscles, nerves, bones, skulls and hearts. Every piece of muscle, cage of bone is a masterpiece in itself. He made wax structures of human organs in order to observe how they function and react. He was figuring out things that no one knew at that time. As his last crusade he studied about heart. He sent molten wax into the heart and made a glass model out of the wax moldings and pumped blood into it to observe the opening and closing of valves. His discovery about these valves and heart were revolutionary and are fundamental to the functioning of heart. But as his works were never published, not until the 20th century cardiologists started figuring this stuff out. They confirmed that Leonardo was absolutely right in his findings.

Even with today’s technology scientists are still learning from Leonardo’s observations. As many of the greatest scientist Leonardo’s contributions weren’t recognized until long after his death. He was a true inter disciplinary genius with his contributions ranging a vast range of scientific disciplines from Anatomy to Flight to War machines. But there is still a lot we can learn from him. His integration of various disciplines was mind blowing. Leonardo was a true genius as he knew all these things 500 years ago and we are still trying to figure these out. He is truly awesome-tacular.

What do you think of Leonardo da Vinci? Leave your thoughts in the comments section.

 

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Nikola Tesla: Awesome Minds

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Everybody in this world are unique in their own way but there are some who are so mindbogglingly awesome that the world has looked past them at the time they were alive and slowly starting to realize how awesome-tacular they are. One of those great individuals is Nikola tesla. Nikola tesla was the mother and father and the whole family tree of crazy inventions. Think of any awesome invention ever made and you’ll find Nikola Tesla’s contribution somewhere in making it possible say affordable electricity delivered to your houses, hydropower, radio, robots, X-ray photography, electric generator, spark plugs, remote controls, fluorescent lights and what not (Well u get the point, almost everything!!). By the way he spoke 8 languages (8!!) which include Serbo-Croatian, Czech, English, French, Hungarian, Italian and Latin. When he died at the age of 86 in 1943 he had more than 700 patents and was undergoing investigation by the United states Government for claiming to have invented a 60 million volt death ray that can vaporize a tank from 200 miles away. Now thats called dying in an awesome way by striking fear in the US government.

Milutin Tesla

Nikola Tesla was born in 1856 in Croatia, Europe. In every expected way he was one of those kids who could do complex calculus in his mind and recite many books in his memory, in short he was Child Prodigy. His father Milutin Tesla was a priest and wanted our Nikki to become a priest too but at the age of 17 when Nikola Tesla contracted cholera he made a deal with his father that he would try not to die if he agreed to send him to engineering school. This happened on his death bed by the way. And the poor father had no option but to promise him. Of course as we know Tesla made a miraculous recovery and in 1884 Tesla went to New York City with literally 4 cents in his pockets and a letter of introduction to Thomas Edison. When Tesla got to New York he discovered that people were using incandescent lights powered by Edison’s DC current supply which needed DC power stations to be built every 2 miles along the power lines which had many disadvantages. So Tesla told Edison that there is new and better way to transfer electricity. Tesla explained his idea of AC current supply which was so much more efficient and easy to transfer. Edison told Tesla that he would give him $50,000 if he could redesign his motor and generators to be more efficient and safer. So after a few months Tesla came back with a fully functional induction motor which ran on AC current. But when he asked Edison for his money Edison refused to give him the money. So this incident made them life long arch enemy’s, in fact in 1917 this prevented both of them from getting the Nobel Prize in Physics because either of them refused to share with each other. But ultimately AC current won over Dc current and Tesla sold his patent of Induction motor to  a Pittsburgh industrialist Westinghouse for $60,000 who went on to making the Niagara Falls the first Hydro electric power station in the world using Tesla’s invention.

Tesla Coil

After that Tesla was obsessed with the idea of transmitting energy wirelessly. He invented the Tesla Coil which is an awesomely cool high voltage high frequency transformer that shoots out bolts of electricity in a terrifying mad scientist way. During his research he went on to discover ways of transmitting and receiving radio signals. He patented this finding but a fire in his lab burnt and destroyed all the work before he showed it off to the public. About a year later an Italian scientist named Marconi invented a similar device who went on to receiving the Nobel Prize in Physics in 1909 for his contributions to the development of wireless telegraphy.

 

 

 

 

Wardenclyff tower( Tesla Tower)

By this time Nikola Tesla became magnanimously famous and was regarded as a super genius. he was always immaculately dressed and lived in fancy hotels and spoke with an accent. He was keeping the people entertained by building the first remote control toys and people loved him. But he became more and more obsessed with the idea of wireless energy transfer. He reportedly built a machine which powered 200 light bulbs wirelessly from a power source 20 miles away. I mean without any wires, we still don’t have that technology in this 21st century. But all the 3d diagrams and blueprints of his experiments were kept in his head and not have been recorded anywhere so scientists still can’t figure out how Tesla did this feat. In 1900 businessman J.P. Morgan commissioned Tesla to build to build a power plant and transmission tower that could wirelessly transfer power to any part of the world. To do this he was given $150,000 but it would actually cost around $1,000,000. So Tesla went on building the ginormous cell phone tower. In 1901 the construction of a giant tower called the Wordenclyff Tower or the Tesla tower in Shoreham, New York. But eventually Marconi’s wireless telegraph machine gained more and more popularity and Tesla was asking for more and more money the project was called off by Morgan. Then Inflation struck and the price of material went up up and above, Tesla had to stop his experiments and as a result suffered a complete nervous breakdown. Then he began petting pigeons and there was this one particular pigeon which he loved so much that to his biographer he said ” I loved that pigeon, I loved her as a man who loves a women”. And sometimes he said that he was receiving messages from extraterrestrial beings. Clearly he was out of mind. Eventually he starting making statements to the press about a death beam which he was building. As u can imagine the world did not believe him. And he eventually died in 1943. And the US government confiscated all his work after his death. And  a military operation called Project Nick was established to know if there was a death ray hidden in his papers. During the project the papers regarding the Death ray were lost and no one knows where they are till this day. Nikola Tesla was one of the greatest minds that ever walked on this world. Without his invention we can’t even go through our normal day. He is truly Awesome.