Decoding da Vinci!
Pascal Cotte is a French engineer, and the founder of Lumiere Technology. If one visits his studio in Paris, the person will find the most precious work of art in the world, Mona Lisa! Also will be found so many computers, and a strange camera kept in front of the archetypal masterpiece of the Italian Renaissance! Through this camera, the visitor can discover Pascal’s own kingdom…
Pascal, an ardent admirer of Leonardo da Vinci (April 15, 1452 – May 2, 1519), is trying to resolve the mysteries of the Renaissance period art works with the help of Lumiere Technology, in his studio. Pascal had made an important discovery around 15 years back. In order to find the actual identity of Mona Lisa, he had pioneered a technique, called Layer Amplification Method (LAM). LAM works by “projecting a series of intense lights” on to the famous painting. And, Pascal captured the reflected light rays from different layers of the painting in his multi-spectral camera. After analysing thousands of pieces of information stored in his computer, the Frenchman came to know that da Vinci had painted multiple images of Mona Lisa on the same canvas! The original work, kept at the Louvre Museum, is just the tip of an iceberg floating on the water… there are multiple images hidden inside it…
Pascal’s research had stunned the world in 2004. Leonardo experts were of the opinion that the new findings were awesome, as the discovery raised new questions about the painting’s history. Art historian, Leonardo-expert and Emeritus Professor of the History of Art at the University of Oxford Martin Kemp said: “What Pascal Cotte is revealing in France is remarkable. It tells us a lot more about the way Leonardo’s mind worked when he was doing a painting.” He stressed: “We know that he fiddled around a good deal at the beginning, but now we know that he kept fiddling around all the time and it helps explain why he had so much difficulty finishing paintings. Leonardo is endlessly fascinating, so getting this intimate insight into his mind is thrilling.”
The Global Community marked da Vinci’s 500th death anniversary in 2019. It is believed that his remains had been buried somewhere in Loire Valley, France. However, there is a controversy regarding this. da Vinci, who was brought up in a mountainous village of Italy’s Tuscan Valley, tried to understand the Laws of Rules by which Mother Nature operates, apart from concentrating on paintings. To turn those rules into usable technology, he made multiple sketches in his Codex Leicester (or notebook), a collection of scientific writings by the Italian polymath of the Renaissance whose areas of interest included invention, sculpture, architecture, science, music, mathematics, engineering, literature, anatomy, geology, astronomy, botany, paleontology, and cartography! Those sketches, as well as the art of annotations, in brown ink are the most important documents in the history of Science. His oil paintings have been widely studied… in the 21st Century, the study on the great painter leans heavily on understanding the science and technology recorded in the Codex!
Leonardo da Vinci
da Vinci’s views on science and technology are very much relevant even in the 21st Century, because of two reasons. Firstly, scientists invent new scientific methods and technologies in order to resolve the mysteries of his life and paintings. The biggest example of this is Pascal Cotte’s research related to LAM. Secondly, his sketches make it easier for the scientists to understand the Laws of Nature. In other words, da Vinci’s scientific views and research works help the modern science march ahead!
Leonardo da Vinci used to believe that there was no bigger artist or technologist than the Mother Nature! And, the finest example of this is the human body, which has been constantly undergoing complex physiological processes. It means that the designs of complex machineries inside a human body are not just fine, but also perfect! So, he used to sketch various organs of the human body in his sketchbook…
da Vinci’s sketches changed British Cardiothoracic Surgeon (at Papworth Hospital, Cambridge) Francis Charles Wells‘ career. In the 1970s, doctors had little knowledge about Atherosclerosis – a disease in which plaque builds up inside a person’s arteries. Arteries are blood vessels that carry oxygen-rich blood to the heart and other parts of the body. Plaque is made up of fat, cholesterol, calcium, and other substances found in the blood. Atherosclerosis is a condition where the arteries become narrowed and hardened due to a buildup of plaque around the artery walls. In his notebook, da Vinci made a perfect sketch of the human heart, and also recorded changes in the diameter of the arteries linked with the heart! In 1960, the Global Community came to know that the great painter had created an artificial blood circulation model by using some glass tubes… this model helped people immensely in realising the relationship between a valve’s performance and the blood circulation! An exhibition on da Vinci’s sketches at the Royal Academy of Art in London worked as an eye opener for Dr Wells in 1977. Soon after that event, the British Surgeon carried out some path-breaking researches on Atherosclerosis. In his publication ‘The Heart of Leonardo‘ (2013), Dr Wells explained how the Italian painter’s perfect sketches helped Medical Science treat Atherosclerosis patients!
Francis Charles Wells
da Vinci’s sketches also helped David Lentink conduct researches on a different issue. The name of his laboratory at Stanford University is Bio-Inspired Research & Design (BIRD). After watching a group of birds flying in the sky five centuries ago, da Vinci had a question in his mind: Why human beings, unlike birds, cannot fly? In order to get an answer, he had made multiple sketches… and, also made artificial wings with wood and steel!
However, da Vinci did not succeed! Five centuries after his death, Lentink and his co-researchers were looking for answers to the same question! A glance at the BIRD’s website will help one understand how it had influenced the designer of the first helicopter in this research.
The birthplace of the biggest scientific project, which links da Vinci and modern science, is Florence, the Italian city where da Vinci had spent his student life. In its September 2016 edition, the Human Evolution Journal had announced its biggest scientific project, involving da Vinci, called ‘Project Leonardo‘. The main aim of the project is to trace da Vinci’s real identity! So many books on da Vinci have been published in the last 500 years… and, the latest one is ‘Leonardo da Vinci‘ by Walter Isaacson. However, none of the researchers or biographers could give reliable information about da Vinci or about his family members! Therefore, the scientists have failed to prepare da Vinci’s Genealogy in a scientific way. Even, there is a confusion about the exact appearance of the creator of Mona Lisa!
Researchers, involved in Project Leonardo, are trying hard to resolve these mysteries! David Caramelli – the Director of Project Leonardo and a Professor of Anthropology, Department of Biology (Molecular) at University of Florence – has stated that their main tools in this work are modern Biochemistry and Molecular Biology. The professor, who has expertise in collecting DNA samples from any ancient objects or fossils, had revealed the complete gene sequences of the Neanderthals in a rare first. Under his guidance, some researchers have been closely monitoring major works of da Vinci for the last three years, so that they could get any sample of his DNA. Meanwhile, the historians have been maintaining a record of the places visited by the great Italian painter in his lifetime. The scientists would be visiting those places in order to collect the items used by da Vinci, as they could lead them to trace his DNA samples.
Dr J Craig Venter
A tiny sample of DNA would help researchers at the Craig Venter Institute to reconstruct da Vinci’s entire gene sequence! Dr J Craig Venter is famous for defeating the US Government-sponsored ‘Human Genome Project‘ in the 1990s. His Celera Corporation, a technology-driven company founded in 1998, had revealed the entire human gene sequences in the past. The modern science depends on Dr Venter to know the real identity of da Vinci.
The Vitruvian Man
The official logo of the Human Genome Project – an international scientific research project with the goal of determining the base pairs that make up human DNA, and also of identifying and mapping all of the genes of the human genome from both a physical and a functional standpoint, which began in 1985 – was da Vinci’s world-famous work ‘The Vitruvian Man‘. What a feat!!! On that day, no one could imagine that scientists would trace the DNA of the creator of The Vitruvian Man in the 21st Century…
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