Re: distribution and persistence, ca. 1900

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From: Dave Long (
Date: Fri Jul 14 2000 - 00:26:37 PDT

> Basically this was technically low-hanging-fruit, but the wave theory
> of sound was needed.

Durant, in Part V of the _Story of Civilization_, believes Leonardo
da Vinci "... studied the transmission of sound, and reduced its
medium to waves of air", circa 1500. I wasn't convinced by the few
quotations Durant gave; anyone have pointers to the Codice Atlantico
or other Notebooks? (Joe?)


I was convinced by other arguments of his that LdV would have made a
fine inmate of a certain southern california Institute:

    By a kindred bent he indulged himself in queer pranks; so one
    day he hid the cleaned gut of a ram in a room, and when his
    friends had gathered there, he inflated the gut by a bellows
    in an adjoining chamber, until the swelling skin crowded his
    guests against the walls. ... His curiosity, his inversion,
    his sensitivity, his passion for perfection, all entered into
    his most fatal defect -- the inability or unwillingness to
    complete what he had begun.

And, lest we believe the unintentionally hilarious prospectus a
creation of our times, Durant reproduces a letter from Leonardo to
Lodovico, sent in 1482. The latter having had open reqs for a
military engineer, an architect, a sculptor, and a painter, the
former proposed to save him the trouble of considering multiple
candidates. Some highlights:

> 6. Also, I have ways of arriving at a certain fixed spot by
> caverns and secret winding passages, made without any noise
> even though it may be necessary to pass underneath trenches
> or a river.

> 9. Where it is not possible to employ cannon, I can supply
> catapults, mangonels, traps, and other engines of wonderful
> efficacy not in general use. In short, as the variety of
> circumstances shall necessitate, I can supply an infinite
> number of different engines of attack and defense.

> Also I can execute sculpture in marble, bronze, or clay, and
> also painting, in which my work will stand comparison with that
> of anyone else whoever he may be.

One can almost imagine Lodovico saying "sounds great, but can
you use Office?". In any event, Durant says:

    It offends us to learn that the myriad-minded man had
    to spend irrecoverable time making curious girdles for
    Lodovico's pretty bride, Beatrice d'Este, conceiving
    costumes for jousts and festivals, organizing pageants,
    or decorating stables. But a Renaissance artist was
    expected to do all these things between Madonnas ...

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