Leonard da Vinci: Was there anything he couldn’t do? (That is, except for writing from left to right–many of the left-handed Renaissance man’s journals are written backwards and require a mirror for easy reading). The Mona Lisa artist was the original polymath, a public figure whose ability to dabble in whatever artform he pleased (while excelling at it!) can seem somewhat unfair to those of us who actually have to focus on one thing at a time.
Here was a person who could paint, sculpt, lay some of the groundwork for modern science, and still make the time to embed a vast Illuminati-related conspiracy into his work (okay, that last part is just the plot of a popular book...or is it?). And this just covers his more well known accomplishments. For instance, did you know that he was an experienced musician too? Or that he’s often credited with introducing the concept of contact lenses to the world.
Yes, you read that right. Those tiny pieces of plastic you pop in your eye every day? Their invention can be traced all the way back to 1508 and da Vinci’s Codex of the eye, Manual D, a book describing the ways in which someone could, in theory, change the power of their corneas using basic materials. And wouldn’t you know, one of the methods–affixing a water filled glass hemisphere to your eye–sounds a lot like wearing primitive contacts. Of course, da Vinci’s other eye-enhancing tip–just dunking your head into a bowl of water–suggests that trolling people was another one of his specialties.
Neither method was practical at the time, and da Vinci had no intention of correcting vision in the first place. (He was more interested in investigating accommodation of the eye, a process in which the eye changes its power in order to keep a moving object in focus.) Still, many believe the ideas presented in his codex formed the basis of the contacts we wear today.
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