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Engineer Ian Hutchings discovers something fascinating in Leonardo Da Vinci’s ‘irrelevant scribbles’

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DNA India | Sat, 23 Jul 2016-03:16pm , Mumbai , dna webdesk |

Leonardo da Vinci. (University of Cambridge – Image Courtesy)

Ian Hutchings, an engineering professor at the University of Cambridge has discovered something truly remarkable while going through some of Leonardo Da Vinci’s notes. A new study has revealed that Leonardo da Vinci knew more about friction than what was previously though. The study that was conducted by Ian Hutchings — an engineering professor at the University of Cambridge — has confirmed that a page from his notebook contains the first notes that demonstrate the laws of friction.  The notebook dates back to 1493 and was previously thought to be irrelevant scribbles and was even dismissed as such by a 1920s museum director who called it “irrelevant notes and diagrams in red chalk”.

Turns out that the notes aren’t irrelevant after all. It’s been known for a while now that da Vinci directed the first study of friction. However, historians were still confused about when and how these experiments were conducted. Hutchings was able to solve this puzzle and put together the sequence of events leading up da Vince discovering friction. Hutchings noticed that some stretches beneath da Vinci’s red chalk notes were reminiscent to how modern day students would conduct an experiment based on the laws of friction. “The sketches and text show Leonardo understood the fundamentals of friction in 1493,” said Hutchings. “He knew that the force of friction acting between two sliding surfaces is proportional to the load pressing the surfaces together and that friction is independent of the apparent area of contact between the two surfaces. These are the ‘laws of friction’ that we nowadays usually credit to a French scientist, Guillaume Amontons, working two hundred years later,” he added. –  Courtesy


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