Friday, September 3, 2010
Leonardo da Vinci's water theory
Leonardo da Vinci--Water Studies c. 1513
Leonardo da Vinci was intrigued by water, perhaps even feared water. His water theory can be considered the bedrock of hydrology in the history of the study of water.
He was probably the first hydrological experimentalist to design and build his own instruments to test his hypotheses.
Da Vinci developed hypotheses while describing and classifying hydrological processes. For example, he understood that because of the hydrological cycle, water would pass through the major river systems numerous times.
His description of water is "the vehicle of nature" ("vetturale di natura"), believing water to be to the world what blood is to our bodies.
Leonardo described water as "the vehicle of nature" ("vetturale di natura"), believing water to be to the world what blood is to our bodies.
Leonardo understood that water circulated according to fixed rules. The fact that it falls as rain or rises up from springs under the ground.
Accordingly, he understood that water is indispensable to humans, animals and plants, yet it can also be the instrument of their destruction. Its power is irresistible.
Leonardo's study of the motion of water suggests it was a way in which to understand his own fear of moving water.
He supposed the principle of erosion: "Water gnaws at mountains and fills valleys. If it could, it would reduce the earth to a perfect sphere" (Codex Atlanticus, 185v).
Leonardo studied water perhaps to be able to control it. He lived through terrible floods and storms, he witnessed destruction by water first hand.
This is just the tip of the iceberg regarding da Vinci, his water theory and his thoughts on the subject of water. More to come in future blogs...