1. The Vitruvian Man
Da Vinci modeled his ideal human figure according to the dimensions set down by an ancient Roman artist, Vitruvius. Da Vinci ‘s angry-looking man has cause to grin-he’s now recognized as one of the most famous characters on earth.
2. Geologic Time
Tectonic Plate? No sweat anyway. Although several of his contemporaries described freshwater mollusk fossils from the Great Flood as leftovers from the mountain top, Da Vinci felt differently. He supposed (right) that once before many years of gradually shifting upward, the mountains had to have been coastline.
3. The Self-Propelled Car
It is not Ferrari, but for his day the prototypes for a self-propelled vehicle by Da Vinci have been groundbreaking. His wooden “car” was moved by springs interacting with geared wheels. In 2004, scientists at one museum in Florence installed a replica and found it working as planned by Da Vinci.
4. The Ideal City
Living in a plague-stricken Venice, Da Vinci dreamed a more secure town he would be able to call home. His architectural draughts are highly complex, and also have fresh air horse stables. He did not make room for a soccer stadium to the consternation of modern Milanese.
5. The Aerial Screw
Modern physicists accept that it could never have lifted off the ground, but the “helicopter” concept by Da Vinci remains one of his most successful. The strange contraption was designed to be run by a four-man team and may have been inspired by a famous windmill toy in Leonardo’s day.
6. The Triple-Barreled Cannon
More intellectual than warrior, Da Vinci’s dispute distaste did not deter him from thinking up prototypes for more powerful cannons like this one. His jacked-up triple-barrel on the battlefield should have been a lethal weapon, short and quick with lots of extra ammo.
7. The Winged Glider
The imagination of Da Vinci was filled with ideas for flying machines including several gliders equipped with flapable wings. This open-shelled model, complete with pilot seats and gears, didn’t have a crash helmet feature.
8. The Revolving Bridge
Also a lover of the fast getaway, Da Vinci felt it would be better to use his spinning bridge in battle. The light and durable materials attached to a moving rope-and-pulley framework made it possible for an army to pick up and go at the notice of a moment.
9. Scuba Gear
Da Vinci ‘s fascination with the sea spurred many water exploration designs. His dive suit was made of rubber, attached to a cane snorkel and a bell floating at the surface. Also demonstrating the designer was realistic, the outfit contained a bag that the diver was able to urinate in.
10. Mirror Writing
Was it a trick to foil Renaissance copycats peeking at his notes, or merely a way to escape the inky mess of left-handed writing? Whatever his intentions, Da Vinci certainly enjoyed the composition of mirrors: several of his writings are scrawled backwards.