Leonardo da Vinci (1452-1519) was an Italian inventor, artist, architect, and scientist. Da Vinci had an interest in engineering and made detailed sketches of:
- The airplane
- The helicopter and other flying machines
- The parachute
- The submarine
- The armored car
- The ballista (a giant crossbow)
- Rapid-fire guns, the centrifugal pump (designed to drain wet areas, like marshes)
- Ball bearings
- Contact lenses
- The worm gear (a set of gears in which many teeth make contact at once, reducing the strain on the teeth, allowing more pressure to be put on the mechanism),
- And many other incredible ideas that were centuries ahead of da Vinci’s time.
Leonardo was born in Vinci, Italy (near Florence). Early in life, he studied with the artist Andrea del Verrocchio in Florence. During the years 1483-1499, da Vinci worked for the Duke of Milan, inventing mechanical devices for use in warfare and defense. He also designed canals, bridges, cathedrals, and other buildings. After studying optics, proportion, anatomy, and perspective, da Vinci wrote “Treatise on Painting,” published in 1551.