Saturday, September 18, 2010

Leonardo da Vinci: The Audubon of Automata

I was asked to review Leonardo's Legacy: How Da Vinci Reinvented the World by Stefan Klein for the New York Journal of Books. My copy from the publisher (Da Capo, April 27, 2010) arrived very late and I only found time to complete my review last week. As a consequence, NYJB ended up inserting it retroactively into their April slot and they either dropped or did not know how to accommodate the timeline I created for my review. So, I'm including it here.
It is intended to give some perspective on the extraordinarily early period in which Leonardo lived relative to other well-known contributors to the development of western scientific thought.

Other themes covered in my review include:
  • Dissecting cadavers
  • Backward writing
  • Stroboscopic vision
  • The opportunist
  • Optics
  • Electric water
  • Innumeracy
  • Computing engines
  • Simulations
  • The grounded aeronaut
This is not the Leonardo you might have learnt about in school.