To the Moon and Back

"Make Glasses to see the Moon large" - Leonardo da Vinci c1500

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  - 

What is the conclusion? "Galileo invented and was the first to use the Telescope" - that is what the "Authority" says and you are just remembering "facts and dates" that someone else wrote down. Why is it that when someone says something that defies the "authority" or the "expert" that we chose their words over our own minds? If I were to go up to a historian and told them that Leonardo used glasses to see the moon large they may say "no that is impossible, Galileo did" OR they could say: SHOW ME the evidence. Or "why do you think that" and not just automatically deny it because it conflicts with what they have already accepted as "facts" or "historic." Set in stone. 

This is not a subjective, maybe he could have, maybe he was just imagining it, - kinda thing. Either he looked at the moon with some kind of lens that magnified it or he did not. It doesn't mean he built a Hubble satellite but he would have realized that if spectacles (reading glasses) that people were already using to see things bigger that were smaller in front of them could be reversed and used to see something far away larger. Anyone could build a telescope in their own backyard today - easily. The real question isn't "if he was able to" but "if he WAS able to (obviously he was) then why wouldn't we know about it?" It's a very significant discovery! - Well, look what happened to Galileo for doing the exact same thing. They put him on house arrest for the rest of his life. He was lucky they didn't kill him. Leonardo just happened to be a lot smarter than Galileo. Leo was like: 

"Well you know that church really doesn't like it when people challenge them so I better keep this lil do-hicky to myself. I'll just write about it and what I saw in these here notebooks really sloppy so someone has to take a lot of time and patience to read them - and be really smart to understand what I meant" 

So why didn't we realize that Leonardo made all these amazing inventions sooner? That we are still today realizing how much he really discovered? He couldn't 'publish' what he found or he would be punished - killed and at the very least his work would be destroyed. So when people doubt that he 'really' meant some of the things he alluded to and want more 'definitive' proof, or a full blown confession, they don't realize that he couldn't do that. If he made it obvious and easy for anyone to notice then that also means that -that "anyone" could be someone who would burn it. If you discovered something that you knew the authority of the time would call "Heretical" or "Blasphemous" then you don't put a huge sign and confession on it that says exactly what it is! You can't.

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. 

So while you may know how to use a digital calculator -do you know how they work? You push 1 and 2 and a + and it instantly displays 3. How would this be possible with medal gears? A mechanical calculator? When computers used to be the size of houses just to do what a chip we cannot even see today can also do - a trillion times faster and better! Do you even know how a clock really works? "It turns around" - How does it turn around? How does it keep time? Why did they used to have to "Wind them up?"

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. 

Imagine building a calculator that would work from only what you have in your house. from essentially forks and knives. Melting them down, making a mold (how do you do that?) and then when you put them together you could press on them and they would do math for you. That is what Leonardo was doing 500 years ago. Without google to tell him how, or a book he could read to teach him how - since he was inventing and discovering them for himself along the way and there were no instructions. There could be no instructions because he was figuring it out independently. It's one thing to build a telescope when you can buy the parts and the instructions. It's another to build one with just the instructions and having to build the parts yourself. It's yet another to build one with no instructions and without the parts. Now imagine "inventing" it, meaning you came up with the whole idea for "telescope" on your own! Every word in every language was invented by someone at some point, right? They say that someone "coined the term" or "first used the word" - the same is true of concepts and inventions - like "Gravity" or "telescope." At some point in time they didn't have the word "Telescope" to use, so what would they refer to a telescope as? "Glasses to see the moon large."

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. 

As an example he could say “Make glasses to see the moon large” and without even having to say anything else can convey a thousand different things. All the reader has to know is what “moon” means, what "glasses" mean and what "large(er)" mean – the rest is ‘self explanatory’ meaning that it explains itself. 

  • 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 
  • and that they were moving. 
"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 

This quote can seem mysterious or symbolical but if you take it for what it actually says it makes sense too. He spent his entire life trying to figure out how to fly. Where do you think he wanted to go? Where he was fixated - a star - SPACE. "the Heavens"

"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 

If you imagine someone standing on the moon you're also going to imagine how he GOT to the moon. How does someone get to the moon? In this sketch by him you may think that it's just a strange water fountain with a statue of a man on the top with a sack over his back. But what if you looked a little closer and were a little more imaginative. If it's a fountain then why does it have wheels on the bottom so that it could be moved? How would the water pump if it wasn't attached to a source? Hmm that's a weird fountain! What is that guy carrying over his shoulder? It looks like it is catching the water from the 'fountain" that is being shot up over his head. Where would the water go after it filled up the bag? and then once you look at the details you can start to see the whole thing. It's not a fountain but a design for a water powered rocket disguised as one! 

If you didn't realize what you were seeing or know how water could be used as a JET PACK to TAKE OFF into the air, you would never even consider the idea. When I saw this water jet pack for the first time I was like WTF how freaking cool! Why hasn't' anyone thought of this before?! I want one! - and then I realized that people have been making things like this for a long time, they just didn't use water they used air, or ... wait for it Rocket Launches to go into space! So you see by a very simple sketch he could relay the concepts behind "rocket power" and if you were clever enough you could understand that it could be water, or air, or hot gasses, - and they would all have the same basic principle. It would shoot something in a certain direction - like a cannon. Blast off! He also designed cannons so you see how all of these things come together but also how each of them requires a knowledge of other parts. If he invented the parachute then he would also realize that the air going against it would slow the decent. He also realized enough air pushing UP INTO it would make it ascend. Like blowing on a feather or a hot air balloon. 

If someone were to claim what I have just described without explaining it properly they would take it as absurd - "crazy" "Leonardo invented rocket ships and space travel" 500 years ago. 

Does it sound as crazy when it is considered in context? Obviously he couldn't BUILD a rocket-ship and test it. Not just because he couldn't - he probably actually could have - but because other people would see and stop him. Imagine trying to tell other people who couldn't even read or knew what gravity was that you could design something that would let them stand on the moon? Don't forget this was a time when people were being burned for being witches and for using "witchcraft" which consisted of rubbing sticks together in the wrong way! Imagine what they would do to someone who claimed they could fly to the moon...Its so ludicrous that they may think he was too insane to be considered a heretic. But then imagine if he actually showed them a working model, or the designs. That was not going to happen and his life-time -and he knew it, acted, and PLANNED accordingly. 

"Science is the observation of things possible, whether present or past. Prescience is the knowledge of things which may come to pass, though but slowly."
“The sorest misfortune is when your views are in advance of your work.” - da Vinci

He essentially created telescopes and astronomy – linking them through science and engineering and he did this WITH A SINGLE SENTENCE. A “command” which if you follow you would find what he really meant when he wrote it.

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? 

You don’t realize that it’s within the creation of the lenses and the glass work required to see the moon large that you would discover a whole range of knowledge of optics, and astronomy – Yourself, through experience. You may think that you have seen the moon because you have looked at a photograph of the moon for a split second. But have you ever viewed it in real life for more than a glance but stared at it through a telescope? It’s a completely different experience and it would active different areas of you mind than a photograph because it is not flat -2d, it is 3d. It is not pigments on paper or pixels on a screen but the actual light of the moon itself shining into you eyes – directly! 

You may also think that since a telescope has already been created and you assume you ‘know’ how they work that there is nothing more to it, or to learn or to know. You wouldn't realize that even the act of opening up a real telescope would automatically give you insight. So you could only imagine the difference between reading: “a telescope makes the moon large” vs – actually building one yourself, looking through it, and experiencing it personally.

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: 

"They make the screen change when I click on something, type, or touch something” 

You may not consider how this is done with electricity and what is essentially glass – and that in a lot of ways your computer is a telescope itself. It’s made of medal and silicone (glass) and uses electricity (light) to show you things that are a-far or macroscopic (small) – in a way you can see them. 

How do you see a picture of the moon on your screen? 

How did the picture of the moon go from the sun – 
  • 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?

 Do you even know what happens after that? When it goes ‘into’ your eyes – and then to your brain? That your eyes themselves are telescopes and the back of your eyes are like a digital camera chip and that your optic nerves sends these signals to your brain to be processed in the exact same way that a picture of the Moon was sent from your computer to the screen? That essentially right now you are looking back in time at the moon through a really complicated telescope? You are seeing something that is millions of miles away - right in front of 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. 

How would you know that if you tried to build your own glasses to see the moon large that you wouldn't end up coming up with a new way to do it that would change telescopes forever? Who do you think makes telescopes? Who invents new technologies? And trust me there is nothing Leonardo did 500 years ago without even having a LIGHT-BULB – that we cannot do today 10000x’s easier.

Stop looking at other people’s pictures of the moon and build your own glasses and see it for yourself!

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