Reminding Leonardo

Next month, a list of things Leonardo da Vinci had to do goes on display at Buckingham Palace, London.  It dates from about 1510. For anyone hoping to become a Renaissance genius, you could try the following for starters:

Get hold of a skull – no laboratory or home is complete without one, though be careful where you get it from.

Observe the holes in the substance of the brain – this is really tricky unless you are already working in a morgue.

Get your books on anatomy bound. Well, that should be already done, so you can ignore this one.

Describe the tongue of the woodpecker and the jaw of a crocodile. Hmmm both of these might be a bit tricky, so maybe have to google both these instead of finding them in real life.

Give the measurement of the dead (using his finger as a unit) Another tricky one, and I think scientific measurement has moved on, so you can probably skip this, though you could mess about for a while measuring your own digits just to see how closely they approximate that of the king, whose joints were generally taken as the standard.

Have Avicenna translated. This has already been done by many people, but you may wish to read some of his works if you have a few years to spare. Avicenna is the Latinised name of Ibn Sana, (c980-1037) one of the greatest polymaths who has ever lived, and it is incredible that he is not better known.  His book on medicine was still in use at European universities untill well into the 17th century. He was a poet, an astronomer, theologist, geologist, mathematician and poet.




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