To the Moon and Back
Leonardo was the first to invent many things. Most of these things are not credited to him because most people were not able to read his notebooks for hundreds of years. Others 're'-invented these things without knowing they were already discovered hundreds of years previously. The list of these things is mind-boggling. The tank, automobile, plane, parachute, calculator, contact lens etc. - and one of the most significant of all: The telescope. But didn't Galileo invent it? Wasn't he the first to build one and to look through one? Some people will say "Leonardo did not invent it he just scribbled down an idea" as if he didn't know what he was really saying when he wrote it down. As if he didn't know what he was talking about. People will say "Leonardo didn't invent the telescope Galileo did" and you would say "What does "make glasses to see the Moon large" mean?" - "Galileo invented the telescope so that is not true." "What does a telescope do" "It uses glass to see something far away larger" - .... Hello? Do you not hear what you are saying, you are denying the obvious.
"Any one who in discussion relies upon authority uses, not his understanding, but rather his memory." - da Vinci
- If you show someone a quote that exactly describes a telescope
- Then show them sketches of a moon by the same person that have detail you can't see with the naked eye
- Then you show them notebooks by the same person who describes the moon in even more detail -
Another reason that others have not understood a lot of the true significance or what Leonardo was alluding to is that they did not know he was the first. They don't appreciate it because it already exists. If they read that Leonardo invented the mechanical calculator they would be like: "so I have one on my phone no biggie" and don't understand that he designed this before most people could even read and the printing press was just starting. We don't even think twice about books but around the time when da Vinci was alive the only books that existed were all HAND written. The books they were reading were actually created and hand written from scratch. If you wanted a photo of yourself you had to paint it, make the paints, and know how to do both.
This is why it's important to realize not just what he did but WHEN Leonardo discovered these things. It allows us to not only appreciate them but learn from them. Since he was inventing things that did not yet exist he had to go about creating and envisioning them using their most basic parts. He couldn't design a medal casting for a gear without knowing how to cast, what casting was, what temp medal melted, how to make sure they were the right size to turn another gear - which would turn another - and so on. So precisely and sophisticated that you could do math on them.
He used simple words in what seem like eccentric and erratic ways. They seem like they are trying to be secretive or enigmatic but that is more for the lack of language and the number of words he had to use and their archaic nature rather than their content or what he was trying to explain. It’s like using simple language to talk to a child about really advanced concepts that they may not understand at first but eventually when they approach a more mature level of understanding the basic themes and morals – lessons and techniques are there.
- You would have to figure out how to make the glasses.
- You would have to learn about optics and lens grinding in the processes.
- You would learn about astronomy and realize that there is more than the moon to look at.
- You would realize that if you could see the moon X large then you could make the glasses different to see x x x's larger
- and then you could see other plants – and stars
- and then come to know what they were
"Obstacles cannot crush me. Every obstacle yields to stern resolve. He who is fixed to a star does not change his mind." - Leonardo da Vinci
- and that they were moving.
"The earth is not in the centre of the Sun's orbit nor at the centre of the universe, but in the centre of its companion elements, and united with them. And any one standing on the moon, when it and the sun are both beneath us, would see this our earth and the element of water upon it just as we see the moon, and the earth would light it as it lights us." - Leonardo
“The sorest misfortune is when your views are in advance of your work.” - da Vinci
Now someone who read that might not realize it’s significance because they may not be aware that it was before the telescope was actually ‘invented’ by Galileo – about a hundred years after Leonardo wrote this down. They also would not take the steps required to build the glasses since they had already been built by others and could see pictures of the moon large – so why build your own for what has already been done and built?
Sometimes super advanced concepts can be understood while their basic concepts are completely unknown. We can do things online and on a computer but we have absolutely no idea how they actually are being accomplished. You open a computer and you see a lot of technical things and you just think:
- to the moon- to a telescope –
- through a lens –
- into a camera of some kind –
- to a computer of some kind –
- through some wires of some kind –
- through your own device –
- to a screen –
- and finally to your eyes?
So you see (or don’t see) that if you truly think about it thoroughly a single sentence can lead to a lifetimes worth of work and knowledge. You have to ask the right questions and those then lead to answers that then lead to more questions and so on until you have not just learned how to see the moon large but to take a photo of it and send it to someone else on the other side of the world that cannot see it for themselves.
Stop looking at other people’s pictures of the moon and build your own glasses and see it for yourself!