Leonardo da Vinci: inventions and discoveries that changed the world


Leonardo da Vinci, the Renaissance man

While we know many things about Leonardo di ser Piero da Vinci, many more are still awaiting to be discovered (and sadly, many will never be discovered). Widely considered an archetype of the “Renaissance man”, he was a man whose curiosity was equaled only by his intelligence and talent. He was a scientist, mathematician, engineer, inventor, anatomist, painter, sculptor, architect, botanist, musician, and writer. Many claim he was the smartest man to ever live — a true genius — and his talents in many areas of science and art are simply impossible to deny. After so many centuries of history, one thing’s for sure: he was a one of a kind. Here are some of the things through which Leonardo da Vinci contributed to mankind:


Something as simple yet as important as the scissors had a major importance in the development of mankind. Who knows how many centuries would have passed without being able to utilize this tool had it not been for the man? Just think about all the tailors… not much of a job left for them, huh?

Still, this is one of da Vinci’s more controversial inventions, with archaeological evidence indicating rudimentary scissors from ancient Egypt, and cross-bladed scissors from ancient Rome. However, it is clear that da Vinci made detailed sketches of scissors and likely contributed to an improved design.


leonardo da vinci parachute

What da Vinci’s early parachute model may have looked like. Credit: Flickr, Tim Roton.

The first parachute had been imagined and sketched by Leonardo Da Vinci in the 15th century. It’s hard to believe something as “modern” as a parachute could have been invented over 500 years ago. Leonardo’s parachute design consists of sealed linen cloth held open by a pyramid of wooden poles — about seven meters long. The invention would allow any man to “throw himself down from any great height without suffering any injury,” da Vinci said. Still, because his ideas were way ahead of his time, the technology was not able to sustain his ideas, thus nobody invented a practical parachute until 1783.

Like many of his monumental discoveries, Leonardo’s parachute was never tested. However, the cool part is that in 2000, daredevil Adrian Nichols actually built a parachute based on Leonardo’s designs. Despite great skepticism from most people, the parachute worked smoothly and Nichols even complemented its smooth ride.

Mona Lisa

The Mona Lisa (Gioconda) - Da Vinci's most known painting

Without a doubt, the most famous painting in the world, the Mona Lisa (or Gioconda) has fascinated people for centuries – and for good reason. It is said that just the lips took 10 years to make! Also, it has fueled an impressive amount of theories not only due to its mysterious smile and implicit (for some) sexual hint, but also because of the fact that it also has some man traits, despite also having pregnant features. Still, it was worth every second, because the entire picture — especially the enigmatic smile — is the crowning of a genius.

The painting is a portrait of Lisa Gherardini, but there’s more to the painting than just Lisa. Many have seen the Mona Lisa as a fusion between both male and female features, while others see in it clear features of the Virgin Mary. Despite not being attractive in a traditional way, Gioconda embodies the ideal woman. Her gaze fixes the observer no matter where he is positioned (seriously, try it), and her legacy fixes a standard for art which was never achieved again.

Anatomy studies

vitruvian man - by leonardo da vinci

Vitruvian man

Leonardo’s formal training in the anatomy of the human body began with his apprenticeship to Andrea del Verrocchio, with his teacher insisting that all his pupils learn anatomy. As an artist, he grew fond of topographic anatomy, drawing many studies of muscles, tendons and other visible anatomical features. His drawing of the Vitruvian man is iconic: a nude male figure in two superimposed positions with his arms and legs apart and simultaneously inscribed in a circle and square was almost a science fiction topic in 1487. The measurements are those of an average man, surprisingly correct (again, for the average man).

Studies of Embryos by Leonardo da Vinci.

But Leonardo didn’t stop there. His most penetrating anatomical studies began in 1506 with his dissection of a 100-year-old man whom he had previously known. He continued acquiring human skulls and corpses for dissection, and as gross as that may sound, at the time, it greatly helped advance science. Unfortunately, he abandoned his anatomic interest after a while and his sketches were lost and forgotten for centuries — some to be never found again.



flying machine - by leonardo da vinci

Image via by Wikipedia

During his lifetime and even after that, Leonardo was valued as an engineer. Still, with his imagination, it was hard to remain practical all the time, so some of his inventions were not devisable (at least not at that time). In 2001, a vision of his was resurrected by some engineers who built a small bridge based on his ideas. For much of his life, Leonardo was fascinated by the phenomenon of flight, producing many studies of the flight of birds, including his c. 1505 Codex on the Flight of Birds. Still, what chances would you have of somebody actually building the helicopters and tanks you designed? Even today, his engineering ideas still fascinate researchers.

Many of his ideas were unpractical, many were just brilliantly applied, and many had to wait hundreds of years before they could be applied. Also, his connection with the masonry is widely known and speculations have always been made — some more realistic, some complete fantasy. Stay tuned for a list of Leonardo’s more poetic ideas, and speculations that surrounding his unbelievable life.

199 thoughts on “Leonardo da Vinci: inventions and discoveries that changed the world

  1. Audrey_Hepburn_Rules

    Leonardo da Vinci is the best!! For anyone who is interested in him and his life, check out the book, ‘The Medici Seal’, by Theresa Breslin. It has a lot about his life and the Borgia and Medici families. (Check out Lorenzo d’Medici!) Anyway, go Leo!!

  2. Jinna KO

    If Da vinci wasn’t born it would have been boring in the world i mean think about it we should be very thankful, he studied the human body to see why people died of smoking or not enough blood when you get to olden ages. Da vinci invented almost everything ex: he invented the parachute, there would be no sport that included parachutes and air gliders not without him. I always am thankful to what happens in everyday life because i’m a christan so i need to be thankful to the food he gave us and all the other things, Whrn i grow up i want to be a fashion desighner or house interior but mostly i want to help orphans and poor people.

    Thank you very much if you were reading my note.. and Bye!!

  3. linorche delouis

    Leonardo da vinci u r dead but was the best man to think of ideas for the present parachute and helicopter i got respect 4 u u rock

  4. Niloufar

    I’m reading the book “The Da Vinci Code”. There were some points about Da Vinci’s work there, so I became so interested in him and his world! By reading this text, I learned more and more about Da Vinci. As it was written in the text: he was rightfully a one of a kind person…

  5. Iri

    I got a report due on the invention of the parachute and I thought it would be boringto do. But I have ome to find that it is very interesting. Rock on Da Vinci!!!!!!!!!

  6. carlos lascoutx

    …if you’re bored, eerie, maybe you have nothing to work with,
    porque no te shingle tu reputa perra madrona?

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  8. truenotion

    Leonardo Da Vinci didn’t invent scissors. Spring scissor are thought to have been invented around 1500 BC in ancient Egypt. Cross-bladed scissors were invented by the Romans around AD 100.

  9. angelica

    ben likes to masterbait to leonardo da vinci’s sketches of a women pregnant, womb and embryo and all.

  10. Richard

    This is one of the worst, and most ill informed, articles on Da Vinci I have ever read…. enjoyed wasting my time.

  11. Sophie

    This information helped me with my assignment on Leonardo Da Vinci and is a great source. Thanks

  12. Guest

    Despite some of the earlier and less desirable comments, I think this was a great article. It seemed you could have gone into a little more detail, but still the general information is great and is helping me with my report on him. Thank you!

  13. bellissima

    This is very good! thank you because my homework of science are done!
    Thank you, very dectailed and interesting

  14. Danny

    Helped a TON with my research project. The real difference from other websites was this website actually telling how his inventions affect us TODAY. Thanks.

  15. the helper

    hoestly all yhu guys tht posted something are stupid nd need to qet a life! cuz yhur juss waisting time when yhu could spend it doin somthing worth wild! to be honest dont spend it doin this go out thre nd change the world!       i love yhu all!!!!!!!!!! <3 (: also stay happie dont waist yhur time on things nd pple tht make yhu sad!!!!! trust me i knoe (: juss sayin nd tryin to help!!!! luv ya!!!!

  16. CookieLover826

    Does anybody know were he lived, cause I am in the 7 grade and me and my friend are doing a project on Da Vinci and our teacher sucks and didn’t give us any information

  17. Seriously?

    Nice job looking at dates. This article was published on the 19th of May 2008 and that article was published on the 21st of May 2008.

  18. Rick

    It is most likely that scissors were invented around 1500 BC in ancient Egypt.[1] The earliest known scissors appeared in Mesopotamia 3,000 to 4,000 years ago. These were of the ‘spring scissor’ type comprising two bronze blades connected at the handles by a thin, flexible strip of curved bronze which served to hold the blades in alignment, to allow them to be squeezed together, and to pull them apart when released.
    Spring scissors continued to be used in Europe until the 16th century. However, pivoted scissors of bronze or iron, in which the blades were pivoted at a point between the tips and the handles, the direct ancestor of modern scissors, were invented by the Romans around 100. They entered common use not only in ancient Rome, but also in China, Japan, and Korea, and the idea is still used in almost all modern scissors. -Wikipedia.

    Thanks for coming out.

  19. derp

    No it wasn’t. At the bottom it says “source” and a link to this article. If they give credit to the person who wrote it it’s not plagiarism.

  20. Taylor

    This is fantastic :) I had to find information on inventions that Leonardo created, and this really helped :) Thank you soo much for taking the time to post this for people, it is greatly appreciated! ~T

  21. This Isntreal

    Funny because of the fact that this was posted 3 days before that. So the real plagiarizer was that poster.

  22. extranger

    i need good info…… which u guys dont have it
    im going to another website see if they have something better

  23. gabbystreet

    omp! (o my pudding!) this info helped alot im making a power point for science on him. and thank sweet jesus above that i found this lol

  24. chica500

    had station studying on him it helped me learn alot about the things we have today bcuz without him we wouldn’t have some of the things that are important to us now

  25. harry

    wow u really fooled us.
    any one notice the scary lady in the corner
    I can see it in your eyes joe

  26. thizz boss

    haha this is hella funny xD im in class reading these wasting time thats already wasted

  27. Sh. Al Mansoori

    tmw i will present about him as a final presentation .. this helped me much thank you, wish me luck ;*

  28. Nicola

    Me and my friends are reading this in class and laughing so hard :D This really helped us in our classwork :D :D We finished before everybody else. x

  29. meee_

    having fun reading a bunch of lg’s and lb’s calling each other names. its a fun way to waste time in class

  30. anmakalaca

    So science and grammar person! Lol aren’t we all just a bunch of nerds! I will say, reading the comments of this post were about as interesting as the article itself! lol

  31. anmakalaca

    Well then! The site was fantastic and interesting, but the comments were just as entertaining! Lol Some are very colorful and have nothing to do with science, some started completely unrelated to anything science but evolved to science, and some are just streams of nerdy-ness! Lol I love this site and the people who come to read it!

  32. rawr dood fite me

    i’m reading these comments and i’m in 7th grade doing this project and i’m not close to being done and i read these comments and its amazing

  33. ScienceThinker

    This has really inspired me to be a better person. To make a change out in the terrible world we live on today. In Other words this sucked.

  34. Ethan Visintin

    Yeah thanks for the advice, he also actually made the FIRST possibly working humanoid robot, that looked like a knight…

  35. Guest312

    By the way, it is just about things he invented, not a full biography on da Vinci.

  36. Pingback: Leonardo Da Vinci’s to-do list from 1490 makes you look like a pleb – ZME Science

  37. aurelio rincon

    I went to the site you put and it said at the bottom of the page that the source was from this website so your wrong

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  39. Pingback: Leonardo Da Vinci; the book, the films and more - movieloverscommunity

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  41. Pingback: Study finds Leonardo da Vinci's family tree spans 21 generations, including 14 living male descendants | News Logged

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