by Nicole Martinelli posted:Thu Oct. 2/2003 15:12 pm
Chalk up another one for Renaissance genius Leonardo Da Vinci — he just may have invented plastic. A couple hundred years before Alexander Parkes debuted with man-made plastic at the 1862 Great International Exhibition, Leonardo had already developed a material similar to bakelite.
In addition to painter, sculptor, architect, musician, engineer and scientist, Leonardo may well be remembered as a jewelry maker and kitchenware designer. Professor Alessandro Vezzosi, director of the Museo Ideale in Vinci (Tuscany), has recreated some of the objects described in Leonardo’s copious notes — and they look strikingly like modern craft-fair baubles.
Leonardo, however, was working with intestines, cauliflower leaves, paper and plant dyes. His studies to create ‘a glass that doesn’t break when it hits the floor’ led him to discover materials he thought might suit for knife handles, chessboards, salt shakers, lanterns, pendants and necklaces.
Called ‘the man who wanted to know everything,’ Leonardo is credited with inventing the helicopter, parachute, a flying machine, machine guns and a tank. The plastic experiments, found by combing the Arundel, Forster and Atlantic codes, are likely just some of the lesser-known discoveries in the 5,000 surviving pages of Leonardo’s notes. ©1999-2008 zoomata.com
*images courtesy Museo Ideale of Vinci