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Travel stories + tips from seasoned explorers

Leonardo da …. WHO?

August 24, 2016

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This point in the summer finds me searching for good TV entertainment. I ran across Da Vinci’s Demons, a very engaging if fantastical look at the genius as a young man struggling against multiple obstacles in 15th century Florence. You might love or hate the 3-season TV series, but it got me thinking a lot about Leonardo and fact vs fiction in his life. Da Vinci gave the world what most consider to be its most famous painting, answered questions that even now we can’t comprehend, and studied many astoundingly complex theories. He wrote backwards, painted forwards and challenged religion at a time when that was unheard of. Although we all recognize Leonardo as the paramount scholar, artist and inventor that he surely was, you may not know these seven obscure facts about Leonardo Da Vinci that may make him your favorite trivia subject at the next cocktail party:

1. He researched and answered one of the most asked questions of all time – why on earth is the sky blue? He was the first to accurately explain why the sky is blue – it is because of the way air scatters the blue light.

2. Leonardo didn’t just love the sky, he also was intrigued by the moon, thus discovering why the moon is only dimly visible when it is a thin crescent. This was well before any modern scientist confirmed that he had discovered the truth: the night side of the moon is lit by the reflected light of earth, making it appear 50 times dimmer here than it is on the moon.

3. Being the genius he was, Da Vinci possessed extraordinary talent and abilities — we call this “multiple giftedness” nowadays. As a dyslexic, he could simultaneously draw with one hand and write backwards with the other, making his “scribbles” almost impossible for others to decipher. Which was exactly his point!

4. There was no limit to Leonardo’s imagination- not only did he invent the first scuba diving outfit, but he also invented an armored car, a pile driver, an advanced pulley and revolving crane, a lagoon dredge and a magnificent flying ship.

5. Da Vinci was a very accomplished lyre player. The first time he was presented to the Milanese court (where he subsequently spent nearly 20 consecutive years), he was introduced as a musician, not an inventor or an artist.

6. Although Leonardo apparently had an extraordinary collection of his paintings, only 15 remain. He often experimented with new techniques, so many paintings have deteriorated into nothing over time. He also was a renowned procrastinator; this, along with his perfectionist attitude, meant that many paintings were never finished.

7. Unusual for a painter, he left no definitive image of himself.

“Life without love, is no life at all”. Leonardo da Vinci

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