Genius Inspired by Nature: The Inventions of Leonardo da Vinci

Best known as an artist, Leonardo da Vinci also left a significant impact in the realm of science with his revolutionary inventions.

Genius Inspired by Nature: The Inventions of Leonardo da Vinci
1, 2

Leonardo da Vinci was undoubtedly one of the greatest minds ever who walked the face of the earth. Da Vinci was an artist, and an expert sculptor, but was also an engineer and an inventor.

His mind went deep into the mechanisms of the world, on which he did his own research, earning the title of a Scientist.

So what designation will we give him? The answer to this question actually lies on what aspect of Da Vinci you are studying.


Da Vinci – The Artist

When you review the works of Da Vinci, be it his painting or inventions, you will notice the different facets of mind intermingling with each other.

Take his famous work Mona Lisa for example, debates about the existence her eyebrows and eyelashes are still going on. There was again confusion on whether the model, Lisa Gherardini, was made to look happy or sad.

Still, today, speculations are what we have.

Mysteries also surround Da Vinci’s The Last Supper painting. And, it is a reminder that even after hundreds of years, Da Vinci’s works still amazes everyone with its hidden eloquence and mysteries.

Da Vinci honed his painting skills under the revered artist Andrea del Verrocchio. Legend has it that after seeing Leonard Da Vinci completed the painting of an angel, Verrocchio vowed to never paint again!

Da Vinci - the Engineer | Inventor

Da Vinci was always curious about the nature around him. One of his fascinations was flight, and he used to observe how birds take flight and keep themselves in the air.

He hated the idea of caging birds and would buy caged birds to set them free.

He also designed weapons that would prove fatal in wars.

Some of the noteworthy inventions of Leonardo da Vinci are;

The Aerial Screw

The Aerial Screw Da Vinci
Source: Citron/Wikimedia Commons

We can consider the Aerial Screw as the first ever model of a helicopter. His design consisted of a screw-like machine that can rotate its blade using human effort.

Da Vinci believed that by turning the screw very fast, a spiral of air will form beneath it, taking the whole structure upward.

Many modern scientists believe that such a mechanism cannot go airborne just by human effort. But it is fascinating to see how ahead of time Da Vinci’s thoughts were!

The Parachute

Da Vinci's Parachute
Source: Nevit Dilmen/Wikimedia Commons

Even though the idea of the parachute was born before Da Vinci, he was the first to build a sustainable model of a working parachute.

We know that it works for a fact because a British Skydiver, Adrain Nicolas made a parachute based on Da Vinci’s sketches. He tested it by jumping from a hot air balloon and the parachute was a success.

The design was more than 500 years old, but it was never a concept, but an invention that stood the test of time.

The War Tank

Da Vinci knew the importance of armor in wars and battles, so he made sketches of a vehicle fortified from all sides. The vehicle was also capable of hurling projectiles at the enemy life.

The description is very similar to the tanks that were first used in the 1900s, but Da Vinci envisioned their use even before that.

Remarkably, Da Vinci kept these sketches from falling into the enemy hands, as he knew the amount of destruction it could bring to people. He was ambidextrous and wrote much of his note backward.

This form of writing is mirror writing and the only way one could easily decode the writing is by holding the notes against a mirror.

He was also believed to use his left hand for writing and his right hand for drawing.

Da Vinci - The Musician

Da Vinci did not compose or tune ballads or songs, but he had a love for music. He would occasionally sing and he knew how to play a variety of musical instruments among which are the lira da braccio and the lyre.

He also spent a lot of time designing improved versions of conventional instruments like the flute and drums. One of his greatest musical instrument design is the Viola Organista.

Viola Organista
Source: Leonardo da Vinci/Wikimedia Commons

It combined three distinct parts such as the harpsichord, an organ, and the viola da gamba. The result was a musical instrument made up of bowstring, which produced sound when friction was applied on each individual string.

The same principle of using friction on a string to produce sound is how a violin works.

However, Da Vinci only made the sketches for this instrument and it didn’t come into fruition for centuries. The first model of the Viola Organista was built by Slawomir Zubrzycki in 2013.

He used the drawing of Leonardo da Vinci which was not complete but gave him enough information on how the system works.

The Cryptex – Was it a Da Vinci invention?

Source: Rex Roof/Flickr

Many believe the Leonardo Da Vinci Invented the Cryptex. The basis for these assumptions arose from the film The Da Vinci Code, based on the novel of the same name by Dan Brown.

In the film, the Cryptex contains the secrets of the Holy Grail. But to open the Cryptex, the letters on its rotating disk need proper alignment to form the code word. The paper inside the Cryptex is surrounded by a thin veil of vinegar so that if someone tries to break open the Cryptex, the vinegar will dissolve the fragile paper.


It does seem like something that Da Vinci would invent. As a matter of fact, He was the one who coined the word Cryptex in his novel.

However, this time, it is just the imagination of Mr. Dan Brown.

Leonardo Da Vinci – The man of many designations

The life of Da Vinci is certainly worth studying. His amazing adventures are sure to pique anyone’s curiosity.

Da Vinci's mind was well beyond his era. Even today we try to learn more and more about him, simply because he never ceases to amaze us!


Stay on top of the latest engineering news

Just enter your email and we’ll take care of the rest:

By subscribing, you agree to our Terms of Use and Privacy Policy. You may unsubscribe at any time.