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Leonardo da Vinci’s CV:

How to think like Leonardo Before going on to elaborate on Sr. da Vinci’s seven habits for cultivating creative thinking as  
outlined in M.Gelb's book, it occurred to me that it would be helpful to review a few of the maestro's myriad accomplishments to remind us that his astounding talents went far beyond his creation of two of the world’s greatest paintings, the Mona Lisa and The Last Supper.   One da Vinci scholar referred to him as “the most curious man who ever lived” (K. Clark’s, Leonardo da Vinci).

Da Vinci, the inventor, made plans for:
A flying machine, helicopter, parachute, extendable ladder, three-speed gear shift, screw-thread cutting machine, bicycle, an adjustable monkey wrench, snorkel, hydraulic jack, revolving stage, a canal lock system, a horizontal waterwheel, an olive press, and more…

The military engineer: Although he referred to war as a “beastly madness,” with the intention of preserving the “chief gift of nature, which is liberty,” he created plans for:
The armored tank, machine gun, mortar, guided missile, and submarine.

He also made significant contributions to the disciplines of anatomy, biology, geology, and physics Among these were his observations of: the correspondence of trees’ ages to the rings in their cross-sections; the leaf arrangement in plants; and the draw of earth’s gravity on some plants, and the sun for others.  He also made significant discoveries regarding fossilization, and was the first to document soil erosion.

  • 40 years before Copernicus, he noted, “The sun does not move…. Nor [is the earth] in the center of the universe.”
  • 60 years before Galileo, he suggested that “a large magnifying lens” should be used to study the heavenly bodies.
  • 200 years before Newton, he anticipated the theory of gravity in his writings and deduced that the earth must therefore be spherical.
  • 400 years before Darwin, his writing placed humans in the same broad category with primates and noted that we do not vary from animals “except in what is accidental.” 

A great deal of his work was incomplete, for which some have considered him a failure!  Gelb writes that beyond the maestro’s scientific achievements, of even greater value was his approach to knowledge, which “set the stage for modern scientific thinking.”

Many scholars agree that beyond his prolific accomplishments, da Vinci “offers the supreme inspiration for reach to exceed grasp.”


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