Leonardo Da Vinci, 1452–1519

Lovin' Leonardo

Da Vinci, that is

What do the differential gear, helicopter, ball bearings, and tank all have in common? They're all machines designed by Leonardo DaVinci, way back in the 15th and early 16th century.

On Saturday, Réal and I went to The Da Vinci Experience, a traveling exhibit currently at the Palm Springs Air Museum. It consists of 60 exact replicas of mechanical devices designed and described by Da Vinci, many of them that you can actually manipulate to see how they work. What is so amazing — eerily uncanny, actually — is how many designs are precisely the ones used in modern day devices.

For example, if you look up the history of the bicycle, you will usually read that it was invented sometime in the 1800s, and the illustration will show some high-wheel contraption bearing little resemblance to modern bicycles. On the other hand, Da Vinci's bicycle design (below) is much closer to the design of modern bicycles.

Differential gear

Auto-lock mechanism (ratchet)
House of mirrors
Pontoon shoes
Worm screw

Mona Lisa

And yes, this is the same Leonardo who painted the Mona Lisa and The Last Supper.

Last Supper

From Palm Springs, the exhibit travels to Sacramento. For details, see sidebar.

—Illustrations from exhibit program.