Leonardo da Vinci’s Early Discoveries in Gravity: Centuries Ahead of Einstein’s Time

Did you know that Leonardo da Vinci was an early pioneer in understanding the concept of gravity? Recent research from Caltech has revealed that da Vinci conducted experiments on gravity in the early 1500s, well before Galileo, Newton, and Einstein developed their own theories on the subject.

According to the findings published in the journal Leonardo, da Vinci’s notebooks contained experiments that demonstrated gravity as a form of acceleration. The accuracy of his calculations was 97 percent when it came to modeling the gravitational constant.

Da Vinci’s experiments involved dropping a water pitcher or granular material like sand on the ground. He observed that the materials would accelerate rather than fall at a constant velocity when the pitcher was parallel to the ground. When the pitcher accelerated at a constant rate, the falling material would slant and form an isosceles right triangle.

Despite not having access to the tools that would have allowed him to fully explore his concepts, da Vinci’s findings were groundbreaking for his time. Caltech Aeronautics and Medical Engineering Professor Mory Gharib believes that da Vinci’s early exploration of gravity is evidence of how far ahead of his time he was.

Although da Vinci’s calculations weren’t entirely accurate, they were still remarkable given the limited resources available to him. Thanks to computer modeling, we now know that he modeled the falling object’s distance as proportional to 2 to the t power instead of proportional to t squared.

Overall, da Vinci’s work on gravity demonstrates how he was a true visionary and pioneer in science and engineering. Even centuries later, his legacy continues to inspire new discoveries and advancements in our understanding of the universe.


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