Blog: CaseNetwork Medical Hall of Fame: Leonardo da Vinci

CaseNetwork Medical Hall of Fame: Leonardo da Vinci

Leonardo da Vinci, 1452-1519, The Original Renaissance Man.

A multi-faceted genius, da Vinci exemplified the true Renaissance Man. Painter, musician, philosopher, scientist, architect and inventor, he sought to discover all he could about nature, including the human body. Leonardo used his anatomical knowledge and prowess to create a robot that, in his opinion, was a machine in structure and could imitate the human body by the use of mechanical parts and levers.

BACKGROUND

Presumed self-portrait by Leonardo da Vinci

Presumed self-portrait by da Vinci

Leonardo da Vinci was born in Vinci, Italy in 1452 of humble origins. Born out of wedlock, son of a notary and a peasant girl, he is thought to be the world’s most illustrious painter. His paintings of the Mona Lisa and The Last Supper are perhaps two of the world’s most famous paintings.

The Last Supper (Leonardo da Vinci)

The Last Supper by Leonardo da Vinci

Mona Lisa

Mona Lisa

Living with his father’s family, he was apprenticed at age 14 to an Italian sculptor and painter, Andrea del Verrocchio. At age 20, he earned a place as a master artist in the painter’s Guild, and by the time he was 26, he was an expert painter, owning his own studio. While at del Verrocchio’s, Da Vinci learned the art of painting, including anatomy and perspective and he also studied sculpture, the mechanical arts and engineering. This apprenticeship brought a wide breadth of knowledge and an appreciation for the laws of science and nature.

RENAISSANCE MAN

A multi-faceted genius, da Vinci exemplified the true Renaissance Man. Painter, musician, philosopher, scientist, architect and inventor, he sought to discover all he could about nature, including the human body. He began his quest by dissecting cadavers in greater detail than even the physicians did and became a master of topographic anatomy. His sketches of the human body changed the way anatomy was studied. By attaching strings to muscles, da Vinci learned how the human body was articulated, in minute detail. The extremely detailed drawings da Vinci made of human anatomy are deemed comparable to what modern technology can produce today.

Human anatomy sketch by Leonardo da Vinci

Human anatomy sketch by Leonardo da Vinci

Human anatomy sketch by Leonardo da Vinci

Human anatomy sketch by Leonardo da Vinci

LEONARDO’S ROBOTS

Leonardo da Vinci was a prolific inventor who created designs for cars, helicopters and bicycles as well as war machines and weapons.

Helicopter designed by Leonardo da Vinci

Helicopter designed by da Vinci

Glider designed by da Vinci

Glider designed by da Vinci

Spring Catapult by da Vinci

Spring Catapult designed by da Vinci

Watermills designed by Leonardo da Vinci

Watermills designed by Leonardo da Vinci

He created several types of robots including a walking mechanical lion and a spring powered car, thought to be the first programmable computer. When Leonardo created his robot in human form, it was of a knight whose appearance was one in the tradition of the time, Italian-German armor. He created his Robot-Knight to prove to himself that a human’s body could be imitated and also, in part, to show it off at parties on behalf of his patron at the time. Leonardo used his anatomical knowledge and prowess to create a robot that in his opinion, was a machine in structure and could imitate the human body by the use of mechanical parts and levers.

Robot built by Leonardo da Vinci

Robot built by Leonardo da Vinci

When the robot was completed in 1495, it was said to have the capability to walk, sit and stand, open and close its mouth, move its head and lift its arms. The robot’s jaw had been noted to have been anatomically correct.

His robot had two working structures. The first was a system controlling the use of the hands, wrists, shoulders and the elbows, with the chest containing the means of power to move the arms. The second was a system controlling the ankles, knees and hips. This was powered by a crank to a cable which was connected to all the leg components.

USE OF DA VINCI ROBOTICS FOR SPACE EXPLORATION

Leonardo’s robots and designs have been used by NASA for a robot to man a space station and eventually aid in colonizing Mars. An expert on robotics, Mark Rosheim, spent 5 years bringing da Vinci’s robot to life and making adaptations to it for NASA. It was he who coined the name Anthrobot, a combination of the word anthropology (a study of human origins and development), and robot (a mechanical automation). NASA’s robots are called Anthrobots, which include articulating joints and actuators that can perform tasks where dexterous manipulation or telemanipulation are required.

LEONARDO DA VINCI AND CASENETWORK

As CaseNetwork continues its development of education and training programs to teach the fundamentals of robotic surgery, it is appropriate that Leonardo da Vinci be added to CaseNetwork’s Medical Hall of Fame.

For da Vinci, some 500 plus years before his time, through his drawings, exquisite understanding of human anatomy and creation of the first robots, accomplished things that scientists and the medical community had yet to conceive. It wasn’t until the latter part of the 20th century that the true measure of his genius was realized by the world today.

Leonardo da Vinci, 1452-1519, Creator of Masterpieces – art, drawings, anatomy, science, medicine, engineering and robotics. The original Renaissance Man.

Mona Lisa in the Louvre

Mona Lisa in the Louvre

All the best!

Jeffrey S. Levy, MD
CEO, CaseNetwork

(With special thanks to researcher and historian, Patricia L. Stellwagon)
 

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