Inside Devinci: A Canadian Success Story
Is it true, or isn't it? Have a look at this picture and see what you think Chinese academic Xu Quan Long seems to be convinced, and claims to have stumbled across the discovery while researching the works of Chinese inventor Lu Ban, who was born more than 2, years ago.
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Lu is credited with inventing devastating military weapons like a counterweighted 'cloud ladder' for storming castle defences, and a 'wooden bird' that could supposedly glide for three days without landing. Xu now wants to challenge the accepted history of the bike which, by all accounts, began in the early 19th century , and is asking Chinese government officials to recognise Lu Ban as the cycle's true inventor.
Earlier this week, a bike allegedly sketched out by da Vinci went on display at the Manchester Museum of Science and Technology. In about , he moved to Milan to work for the ruling Sforza family as an engineer, sculptor, painter and architect.
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Da Vinci was in Milan until the city was invaded by the French in and the Sforza family forced to flee. He may have visited Venice before returning to Florence. During his time in Florence, he painted several portraits, but the only one that survives is the famous 'Mona Lisa' In , da Vinci returned to Milan, remaining there until This was followed by three years based in Rome.
The fame of Da Vinci's surviving paintings has meant that he has been regarded primarily as an artist, but the thousands of surviving pages of his notebooks reveal the most eclectic and brilliant of minds. He wrote and drew on subjects including geology, anatomy which he studied in order to paint the human form more accurately , flight, gravity and optics, often flitting from subject to subject on a single page, and writing in left-handed mirror script.
He 'invented' the bicycle, airplane, helicopter, and parachute some years ahead of their time. If all this work had been published in an intelligible form, da Vinci's place as a pioneering scientist would have been beyond dispute.
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Yet his true genius was not as a scientist or an artist, but as a combination of the two: an 'artist-engineer'. His painting was scientific, based on a deep understanding of the workings of the human body and the physics of light and shade.