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Emerald Group Publishing Limited
Copyright © 2008, Emerald Group Publishing Limited
Leonardo on Flight
Article Type: Book reviews From: Aircraft Engineering and Aerospace Technology: An International Journal, Volume 80, Issue 3.
Johns Hopkins University PressBaltimore, MD2007123 pp.ISBN: 9780801887666 (Paperback)
This beautifully illustrated new book reconstructs the origin of one of the most fascinating and fundamental aspects of Leonardo da Vinci's life and work flight.
A genius for all time, Leonardo da Vinci contributed artistic masterpieces, spectacular inventions, and scientific research to western culture and made the first real studies of flight in the 1480s. Da Vinci dreamt of human flight and this beautifully illustrated volume reconstructs the origin of one of the most fascinating and fundamental aspects of his life and work. With masterfully reproduced drawings and three dimensional prototypes from his vast library of manuscripts and folios, this work traces the development of his theories and experiments over time. Detailed descriptions and unique readings of these exquisite sketches, letters, and notes reveal the inner workings of the artist-scientist.
The book's narrative is extremely accessible and includes scientific theory underpinned by wonderful drawings and illuminating explanations. For example, the book covers the theoretical study of how wind effects birds, how flying machines copy nature, observations of birds in flight, and explanations of how animal muscles relate to flight drawing parallels along the way to mechanical flight. Mechanical descriptions of the machines included in the book and how they function are also clear and easy to understand
Leonardo on Flight begins with the drawings from his years in Florence making theatrical devices (ingegni) and then moves to the marvelous flying machine the ornithopter constructed in Milan during the same period he completed The Last Supper. After 1500, Leonardo's work returned to nature and focused on the flight of birds, the dynamic potential of the human body, and the physics of wind. The final chapter of the book considers the last years of Leonardo's life and his escape into theory and whimsical experiments such as flying wax figurines, inflated bullocks' intestines, and automatons.
Domenico Laurenza devotes himself to the history of images in the Renaissance, history of scientific iconography, and, in particular, to the work of Leonardo da Vinci. He collaborates with the Istituto e Museo di Storia della Scienza in Florence and carries out research at the University of Siena. He is the Scientific Director and author of the five-volume work Leonardo: Uomo del Rinascimento: Genio del futuro.
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