Leicester Codex: Leonardo’s Notes On Water Flow

“The painter is the rival of nature” __Leonardo da Vinci

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Leicester Codex by Leonardo da Vinci
Source: Wikipedia

Leonardo Da Vinci spent many a day watching the water flow, hitting rocks and other obstacles along the way. He made a binder of his notes on water, popularly known as the Leicester Codex.

In his observations of nature, he is said to have remarked “The painter is the rival of nature”. Leonardo compiled the Leicester Codex while in Milan during the years 1508 and 1510.

“He wrote on 18 double-sided sheets of loose-leaf, linen paper, each one folded to make a total of 72 pages. The notebooks are distinctive for two reasons: his use of ‘mirror writing’—writing from right to left—and the links he created between image and text. He recognized the power of combining words and images to develop and communicate ideas.” –Minneapolis Institute of Arts

Bill Gates now owns the Leicester Codex now, he won the bid at an auction conducted by Christies on 11th November 1994 for $30,502,800 dollars (~$31 million). That price makes it the most expensive book ever to be sold on this planet.

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“Leonardo documents his observations of water currents, whirlpools, waves, heads, canals, banks, locks, dams, tunnels, projects for docks, for land reclamation, lists of machines for making use of the energy supplied by water and projects for the use of water for military purposes, accompanied by texts dense with theories.” –Hammercodex.com

Leonardo Self Portrait?

Furthermore, he captures how mountains arose from the sea, how fossils formed over the mountains of Parma and Piacenza, erosion due to water currents, ideas for constructing bridges over water, the great landslide of Monte-Garnier and the origin of spring waters at the top of mountains.

Leonardo was fascinated by Ptolemy’s Cosmographic studies and seems to have used Ptolemy’s maps, rivers, lands, mountains in his exploration of water flow.

Interesting thing about Leicester Codex is not only the power of observation Leonardo demonstrated but also it is a study of how to study something. Leonardo leaves spaces on one or both sides of each page to make room for pictures and notes. On the Leicester Codes, he starts the page numbers from the middle and goes out to sides, what could be the reason for that?. He uses mirror writing that can be read easily in a mirror but harder to read as a normal book. Why did he do that, people say that’s to make it harder for others to understand, really, this great genius could be so selfish and conceited? How silly! It appears that the reason for his mirror writing is because writing right to left would not smudge the ink as he wrote (I learnt that from Bill Gates in this video on the Codex), could that be the real reason? What do you think?