You need to see these strange and unbelievable 15th century inventions from the famous artist, engineer, and inventor Leonardo da Vinci. Noted for fascinating creations such as tanks, machine guns, siege engines, and parachutes, this creator was centuries ahead of his time.
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From machine guns and helicopters, to 15th century tanks, Leonardo da Vinci
created and designed of a lot of things in his life but you might be surprised
with how just ahead of time this Italian native really was. Stay tuned to number
one to see which of his 15th century inventions you use every day!
Number 10: The First Machine Gun.
In school, most of us learned that da Vinci
was a painter, a composer, and a man of the arts. We’re here to tell you today
that good old Leonardo might actually have been a good deal more hardcore than
you might think! While he’s still the same man who painted classics such as
Mona Lisa and the most famous depiction of the Last Supper, da Vinci also
invented what some considered being the first machine gun. To make this feat even
more impressive, he did this in a century where people were really unsure as to
what gunpowder’s place might be in the future of warfare. The reason that
gunpowder didn’t really take off until a few centuries later is simple no one had
figured out how to make it safe and reliable for use in the 1400s. Cannons
were big and heavy things that took ages to reload,
they just weren’t all that practical. Da Vinci wasn’t having such arbitrary
limitations in his own inventions, however. His triple barrel cannon was
lightweight and mounted on a carriage for easy transport. The groundbreaking
weapon could also be reloaded from the front rather easily. Did we mention it
had three barrels? Well, yep, it did! Making da Vinci the inventor the closest
thing to the world’s first machine gun. You know that you’re doing something
right when it takes the rest of the world around 500 years to catch up to
Number 9: A Portable Bridge.
Back in da Vinci’s day, warfare included a lot of
walking. Soldiers didn’t have the luxury of being transported by train, or car, or
plane. No, they had to rely on their own two feet and animals that they could
train. Having to get everywhere on the “heel/toe express” really made the issue
of rivers and waterways a problem for ancient armies. No company of soldiers
likes being wet, after all. In Leo’s time, typical warfare involved a lot of city
and castle sieging, and what do castles have? Moats! Which are a big enough problem all
on their own. We already told you that da Vinci was a military engineer, as well as
an artist. Well when it came to his military designs…Leonardo was
for valuing efficiency. It’s no surprise, then, that he would tackle the problem of
soldiers having to walk through every bit of water that was stuck in their way.
To solve for this the inventor did no less than create a wheeled, portable, and
revolving bridge that armies could drag along behind them. In his personal notes,
Leonardo described this invention of his bridge as “light, yet rugged.” We bet the
soldiers that got to use the bridge loved him for this one, since it meant no
more wet uniforms or rusty swords for them!
Number 8: A Giant Horse.
Among one of his many sculpting projects, da Vinci was hired by one of his patrons to
create a 24 foot tall horse. The Duke of Milan funded this project, even despite
it requiring an exorbitantly expensive amount of bronze. There was so much
material that needed to be applied to the sculpture that Leonardo was forced to
create a new casting technique to make sure that the horse’s bronze shell would
be immune to cracks or faults. Unfortunately, the Duke of Milan was put
in a tight spot when the King of France invaded Italy. The Duke ended up having
to offer nearly 40 tons of bronze – meant for da Vinci’s sculpture – to the invading
monarch as a bribe. Leonardo was somewhat upset about not being able to complete
his final project and died never being able to complete it. Luckily, though, it
does have a happy ending. Leonardo’s horse was later completed, and the man
who had done so donated the sculpture to da Vinci’s birth country of Italy!
Number 7: A Robot Knight.
A good number of da Vinci’s designs included the use of
ropes and pulleys, but none more so than the robotic Knight that he created for
the pageant in Milan. The robot was designed without a single unneeded part
and could sit down, stand up, and even raise its visor! Leonardo’s designs were
so finely formulated that some of NASA’s robots are designed after his work on
the robotic Knight. And we thought his invention of the machine gun was impressive!
Number 6: The Parachute.
Da Vinci isn’t actually credited with the invention of the parachute, but he was definitely one
of the first men to ever think of it. For years, scientists doubted whether
Leonardo’s design would actually work, though. This was because, based on the
inventors notes, Leonardo’s parachute was to be
constructed a good deal differently than how we create parachutes in the modern
day. Some researchers are known to have stated that his design would just be too
heavy, and his shape was too wrong for it to actually work. For the longest time
there was no proof to argue against these naysayers,
either. As like with many of his ideas, Leonardo never actually built or tested
a parachute himself. Still, the great inventor would be proved right in the
end. In the year 2000, the world was shocked when a daredevil named Adrian
Nichols constructed and tested da Vinci’s design for the fun of it. And, to
everyone’s surprise, Leonardo’s parachute actually worked!
Nichols even said it felt smoother falling with the ancient design then
compared to its modern-day counterparts. Now, coming from a man who was so tired
of modern parachutes that he tested an ancient one just for the thrill…we’d say
he’d probably know. Maybe parachute designers nowadays should take a closer
look at what the world’s most well-known Renaissance man was doing back in the
Number 5: Ancient tank.
This is one of the most famous of all da Vinci’s
inventions, so we just had to put it in the top five of our list!
Leonardo’s armored car was to be powered by eight men who were to be constantly
turning cranks that rotated its many wheels. Even though it’s often referred to
as an armored car or tank, this invention really looked more like a giant metal
top than anything else. Da Vinci’s armored car was circular in
design, with metal plates enclosing its wooden frame. These plates were affixed
on a sloped surface so that they could better deflect arrows and other
projectiles. If you’re wondering how this enclosed behemoth would actually fire,
though, we will tell you! The ancient war machine was to have light cannons
placed inside it at all angles. There was also a signing scope at the very
top of the wooden and metal tank to allows operators to fire and aim in all
directions. It’s no wonder da Vinci noted that this
invention would be best used for crowd control and to scatter enemies. It
would have been terrifying on ancient battlefield!
Number 4: Scuba Gear
DaVinci loved the world around him. He painted it, he investigated it, and he
built things to better interact with and explore it. Leo is well known for his
fascination with the air, but he also invented a great many things that
revolved around water, as well. While living in Venice, the great inventor
created an early diving apparatus that would allow man to stay underwater for a
lot longer than he could hold his breath. Leonardo designed a leather suit that
was attached to a hollow cane tube. The cane tubes were also connected to a cork
diving bell that provided air from the surface to the diver. da Vinci didn’t
just stop with allowing a man to stay under the water, however. He also affixed
the suit with a balloon that allowed its wearer to control his descent and
could also assist with bringing the diver back to the surface quickly, if
needed. Smart thinking if you ask us!
Number 3: The First Car.
We’ve established the da Vinci was way ahead of his time. We’ve listed scuba gear,
tanks, and more! But, he also invented something that the rest of us rely on
every day the car da Vinci’s car really wasn’t for transport, though, it was a bit
limited. It could be programmed to push itself either straight or at angles, but
really couldn’t be steered. That said, Leonardo’s self propelled car did
exactly what its inventor wanted it to. He actually designed it for theater and
show, and not for transport. Even though da Vinci’s car wasn’t all that drivable,
it was something that we’re sure gave the residents of Europe quite a thrill…
just like Leonardo would have wanted it to!
Number 2: A Helicopter.
DaVinci not only wanted to conquer the
water and ground, but also the sky! So it’s no shock to us, then, that he developed
and designed a primitive helicopter, of sorts.
The inventor described the machine as working by compressing air, and then
using the force generated to spin his helicopter powerfully and rapidly into
the sky. Just like with his parachute design, though, DaVinci never actually
built or tested his plans for a flying machine. Also, because of what it would
weigh, many researchers doubt its ability to ever even get off the ground. But hey…
the experts were wrong about da Vinci’s parachute design, so maybe there’s hope.
Who’s going first?
Number 1: The Ball Bearing.
Ball bearings are found in cars, laptops, and almost all modern inventions and
appliances. They reduce friction and allow machines to spin without
overheating or outright ripping themselves apart. Many of Leonardo’s
inventions were controlled by pulleys and levers, but in the twilight of his
life da Vinci bridged the gap between ancient and modern technology and
rediscovered the ball bearing. Okay, the ball bearing was actually (as far as
we can tell) first used in the Roman Empire, but it was subsequently lost
along with Rome’s fall. It was da Vinci that rediscovered the ball bearing just
a decade or two before his death. We remember Leonardo da Vinci as one of the
greatest painters and inventors to ever have lived, but, thanks to his discovery
of the ball bearing…in a way we all use one of his many inventions almost every day!
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