Learn Japanese

Hiragana

Hiragana is the first of the three Japanese alphabets to learn. Hiragana is a phonetic alphabet, where each character represents a syllable. Hiragana is generally the first of the alphabets used, and is used for many purposes. Until one broadens their knowledge of kanji, they can use hiragana in place of the kanji they don’t know. Additionally, hiragana is used as particles, and is also used as accompanying characters to verbs, called okurigana. There are also some words that do not have kanji and are thus written in hiragana alone.

‘n’ ‘w-’ ‘r-’ ‘y-‘ ‘m-‘ ‘h-‘ ‘n-‘ ‘t-‘ ‘s-‘ ‘k-‘

‘n’

‘wa’

‘ra’

‘ya’

‘ma’

‘ha’

‘na’

‘ta’

‘sa’

‘ka’

‘a’
‘a’

‘ri’

‘mi’

‘hi’

‘ni’

‘chi’

‘shi’

‘ki’

‘i’
‘i’

‘ru’

‘yu’

‘mu’

‘fu’

‘nu’

‘tsu’

‘su’

‘ku’

‘u’
‘u’

‘re’

‘me’

‘he’

‘ne’

‘te’

‘se’

‘ke’

‘e’
‘e’

‘wo’

‘ro’

‘yo’

‘mo’

‘ho’

‘no’

‘to’

‘so’

‘ko’

‘o’
‘o’
Extended Consonant Syllables
‘p-‘ ‘b-‘ ‘d-‘ ‘z-‘ ‘g-‘

‘pa’

‘ba’

‘da’

‘za’

‘ga’
‘-a’

‘pi’

‘bi’

‘ji’

‘ji’

‘gi’
‘-i’

‘pu’

‘bu’

‘dzu’

‘zu’

‘gu’
‘-u’

‘pe’

‘be’

‘de’

‘ze’

‘ge’
‘-e’

‘po’

‘bo’

‘do’

‘zo’

‘go’
‘-o’
Modified Syllables: Consonant combined with ‘ya,’ ‘yu,’ or ‘yo’
‘p-‘ ‘b-‘ ‘j-’ ‘g-‘ ‘r-‘ ‘m-‘ ‘h-‘ ‘n-‘ ‘ch-‘ ‘sh-‘ ‘k-‘
ぴゃ
‘pya’
びゃ
‘bya’
じゃ
‘jya’
ぎゃ
‘gya’
りゃ
‘rya’
みゃ
‘mya’
ひゃ
‘hya’
にゃ
‘nya’
ちゃ
‘cha’
しゃ
‘sha’
きゃ
‘kya’
‘-ya’
ぴゅ
‘pyu’
びゅ
‘byu’
じゅ
‘jyu’
ぎゅ
‘gyu’
りゅ
‘ryu’
みゅ
‘myu’
ひゅ
‘hyu’
にゅ
‘nyu’
ちゅ
‘chu’
しゅ
‘shu’
きゅ
‘kyu’
‘-yu’
ぴょ
‘pyo’
びょ
‘byo’
じょ
‘jyo’
ぎょ
‘gyo’
りょ
‘ryo’
みょ
‘myo’
ひょ
‘hyo’
にょ
‘nyo’
ちょ
‘cho’
しょ
‘sho’
きょ
‘kyo’
‘-yo’
Long Vowels
oo ee uu ii aa
おお ええ うう いい ああ

Double Consonants: kk, pp, tt, etc. are expressed in hiragana as a small “tsu” (っ) before the kana. For example, chotto meaning “a little” is written as ちょっと.

Katakana

Katakana is the second phonetic Japanese alphabet. Katakana, unlike hiragana is written with straight lines. Generally, katakana is used for writing words of foreign origin.

‘n’ ‘w-’ ‘r-’ ‘y-‘ ‘m-‘ ‘h-‘ ‘n-‘ ‘t-‘ ‘s-‘ ‘k-‘

‘n’

‘wa’

‘ra’

‘ya’

‘ma’

‘ha’

‘na’

‘ta’

‘sa’

‘ka’

‘a’
‘a’

‘ri’

‘mi’

‘hi’

‘ni’

‘chi’

‘shi’

‘ki’

‘i’
‘i’

‘ru’

‘yu’

‘mu’l

‘fu’

‘nu’

‘tsu’

‘su’

‘ku’

‘u’
‘u’

‘re’

‘me’

‘he’

‘ne’

‘te’

‘se’

‘ke’

‘e’
‘e’

‘wo’

‘ro’

‘yo’

‘mo’

‘ho’

‘no’

‘to’

‘so’

‘ko’

‘o’
‘o’
Extended Consonant Syllables
‘p-‘ ‘b-‘ ‘d-‘ ‘z-‘ ‘g-‘

‘pa’

‘ba’

‘da’

‘za’

‘ga’
‘-a’

‘pi’

‘bi’

‘ji’

‘ji’

‘gi’
‘-i’

‘pu’

‘bu’

‘dzu’

‘zu’

‘gu’
‘-u’

‘pe’

‘be’

‘de’

‘ze’

‘ge’
‘-e’

‘po’

‘bo’

‘do’

‘zo’

‘go’
‘-o’
Modified Syllables: Consonant combined with ‘ya,’ ‘yu,’ or ‘yo’
‘p-‘ ‘b-‘ ‘j-’ ‘g-‘ ‘r-‘ ‘m-‘ ‘h-‘ ‘n-‘ ‘ch-‘ ‘sh-‘ ‘k-‘
ピャ
‘pya’
ビャ
‘bya’
ジャ
‘jya’
ギャ
‘gya’
リャ
‘rya’
ミャ
‘mya’
ヒャ
‘hya’
ニャ
‘nya’
チャ
‘cha’
シャ
‘sha’
キャ
‘kya’
‘-ya’
ピュ
‘pyu’
ビュ
‘byu’
ジュ
‘jyu’
ギュ
‘gyu’
リュ
‘ryu’
ミュ
‘myu’
ヒュ
‘hyu’
ニュ
‘nyu’
チュ
‘chu’
シュ
‘shu’
キュ
‘kyu’
‘-yu’
ピョ
‘pyo’
ビョ
‘byo’
ジョ
‘jyo’
ギョ
‘gyo’
リョ
‘ryo’
ミョ
‘myo’
ヒョ
‘hyo’
ニョ
‘nyo’
チョ
‘cho’
ショ
‘sho’
キョ
‘kyo’
‘-yo’
Long Vowels
A long vowel that follows a consonant can be represented with a dash symbol after the kana. For example koohii, which is “coffee” in Japanese, would be written as コーヒー
oo ee uu ii aa
オー エー ウー イー アー

Double Consonants: kk, pp, tt, etc. are expressed in katakana as a small “tsu” (ッ) before the kana For example, shotto, meaning “shot” is written as ショット.

 There are small versions of “ア,” “イ,” “ウ,” “エ,” and “オ” that are “ァ,” “ィ,” “ゥ,” “ェ,” and “ォ.” These are used in conjunction with some other characters to create characters for sounds that were not originally covered by the original set of hiragana/katakana.

  • “ti” and “tu” sounds now commonly written as “ティ,” and “トゥ.”
  • “di” and “du” sounds, are now commonly written as “ディ,” and “ドゥ.”
  • Combining the small “ァ,” “ィ,” “ゥ,” “ェ,” and “ォ” with “フ,” gives character combinations “ファ,” “フィ,” “フェ,” and “フォ” for “fa,” “fi,” “fe,” and “fo” respectively.
  • “wi,” “we,” and “wo” are written as “ウィ,” “ウェ,” and “ウォ.”
  • As the “v-“sound did not originally exist, the “ヴ” character was created to provide that sound. Now, “va,” “vi,” “vu,” “ve,” and “vo” can be written as “ヴァ,” “ヴィ,” “ヴ,” “ヴェ,” and “ヴォ” respectively.
  • For “je,” “she,” and “che,” “ジェ,” “シェ,” and “チェ”are used for them respectively.

Other Alphabets

Kanji: Kanji are the characters that were imported from China. Each kanji character generally has two readings – an onnyomi or音読み (おんよみ), which is the original Chinese reading of the character, and the kunnyomi or 訓読み (くんよみ), which is the Japanese adaptation of the character. Something to note is that characters can have more than one 音読み or 訓読み or both.

Romaji: Romaji is the writing of Japanese phonetic characters as Roman letters. Sometimes it helps with pronunciation of words when learning Japanese.

Punctuation
The symbols for punctuation look slightly different in Japanese compared to English
English . ,
Japanese

Source: Japaneseonline

Annunci

A taste of Calabria by Rosella Degori

When Rosella told us she was preparing a guide to Calabria I have to say we were a bit intrigued. This is what I love about Pathport: discovering the stories of our pathfinders through their travels and learn about places that otherwise would have never crossed my mind. We asked Rosella to tell us a bit more about her relationship with Italy’s most unknown region.

 

Can you tell us a bit about your relationship with Calabria? 

I was born and raised in Oppido Mamertina, a little village on Calabria’s Southern tip, set between the Aspromonte National Park and the Tyrrhenian sea (you can basically go sunbathe at the beach and hike in the mountains on the same day). Although quite unknown, it has an important archaeological site, Oppido Vecchia, which, in the past, attracted a lot of archaeologists from all over the world. I would say my ties with Calabria are quite strong – I go and visit quite frequently, not only because my family lives there, but because I still consider this place my actual home. It’s where I recharge my batteries and enjoy life at a slow pace, I binge on genuine food and, most importantly, I get to see blue sky (the most powerful remedy to stress, in my opinion).

Rosella

How would you explain that this part of Italy hasn’t been overrun by tourists yet?

It’s quite simple: unlike any other regions (take Puglia, Sicily, Campania, just to name a few in Southern Italy) Calabria doesn’t have a good marketing strategy: its natural treasures and tourist attractions aren’t valued enough and local admins have quite a sluggish attitude when it comes to providing an adequate experience to travellers and tourists.

If you had to point out one or 2 characteristics of this region, what would those be? What is different here?

Calabria can be rough and wild, sometimes – a place of primordial beauty and deep contradictions. Life here is still very slow, especially in the little decadent villages that still retain a kind of charm and authenticity that no longer exist elsewhere. All in all I would say, beautiful and contradictory.

Rosella’s dad 
Rosella’s mom

What would a perfect day here look like for you, from morning til night?

It’d begin with my favourite ritual: breakfast with cappuccino and croissant at one of the quaint bars scattered throughout my little town, Oppido, or the surrounding area. Then, off to the mountain for a refreshing walk in nature before enjoying a traditional lunch involving pasta and green beans (a typical dish we call ‘fagiolini’) deep-fried courgette flowers, fresh bread with nduja and a taste of deliesi – a super delicious dessert with vanilla sponge and cream. After this super ‘light’ meal, it’s time for another stroll – at the beach, perhaps. Where to? Tropea? Scilla? Chianalea? Bagnara? Ah, decisions decisions! At night, dinner alfresco by the sea (rigorously fish) and then a catch-up with friends over a good gelato. It’s basically just about enjoying those simple things you’ll never find in a place like London.

And let’s not forget food! The is Italy after all. Any regional specialities people should try when going there?

Where to begin? Calabria is such a huge region and each province has its own specialties. The common thing, however, is that Calabrian dishes are quite simple and ‘poor’, as they all come from a peasant cookery tradition. Anyway, I would recommend: nduja, a very spicy spread you can enjoy with bread, pasta, pizza, eggs, almost anything basically (well, not desserts, for example); pasta and green beans (fagiolini), a very poor yet extremely tasty dish; pitta, a two layered pizza filled with tomato, mozzarella, red pepper, anchovy, endive and black olives; tartufo di pizzo, a chocolate and hazelnut-flavoured gelato filled with melted chocolate, deliesi, a dessert made of two layers of vanilla sponge filled with white custard cream; and then, pignolata, torrone, soppressata, caciocavallo, dried cod, figs, licorice, olive oil and red wine galore (Cirò rosso, for example).

Rosella’s guide to Calabria

Source: http://www.pathport.store/

How a Wildlife Photographer Captured a Healthy Ecosystem

Paul Nicklen discusses the importance of living “here and now” to protect the planet

The islands were once densely populated with endemic flora and fauna, but colonization over the years wiped out indigenous land mammals and most species original to the islands. European settlers introduced Cheviot sheep to the islands in the mid-1800s, and hunted the wolf-like warrahinto extinction.

Today, while harboring nearly 3,000 people, the islands are still extremely biodiverse. For every permanent resident, there are 167 sheep. But about 65 species of birds—including albatrosses, caracaras, and penguins—can also be found on the islands, along with dolphins, porpoises, sea lions, and elephant seals in the surrounding ecosystem. The Falklands are often held up as a lesson in conservation, and how society and nature can peacefully coexist.

For the February 2018 issue of National Geographic magazine, wildlife photographer Paul Nicklen traveled to the Falkland Islands to document this diverse ecosystem. National Geographic caught up with Nicklen, whose video of a starving polar bear wrenched thousands of hearts in December, to talk about his experiences in this remote habitat.

How did you get the idea for this assignment?

I’m always going to Antarctica, and [the Falklands] seems to be one of the major stopping grounds on the way. It always kind of frustrated me that we were just bypassing this place. We would get a glimpse of huge albatross colonies and an underwater world that was rich and diverse.

 There seems to be this balance of people, sheep, agriculture, fishing, and really abundant wildlife and nature. I really wanted to do a cross-section of this ecosystem that seemed so rich.

Can you describe your experience at Steeple Jason?

It’s a beautiful island. It’s long and narrow, four miles by one mile. Basically, you have two main peaks and a causeway in the middle, where all the penguins go and where the sea lions intercept them. It’s where the dolphins come in to play. On the long, tussock grass slopes are nesting some 200,000 [pairs of] black-browed albatross and tens of thousands of Gentoo penguins and rockhopper penguins.

The more remote and untouched by man the island, the richer they were.

AFTER YEARS OF WAR, NATURE IS FLOURISHING ON THESE TINY ISLANDS In the Falkland Islands, the resiliency of nature is everywhere.

Do you have a favorite photo from this assignment?

I think the lead image. I was sitting there in awe, photographing, with beautiful light, storms in the distance, looking at tens of thousands of perfectly spaced black-browed albatrosses on their home-made nests and their partners were soaring through the air. And this bird with a seven, eight-foot wingspan comes in, floating behind me on the wind and taps me on the back of the head as it soars over me. And that’s the one that you see, the lead image of the wings framing the colony.

I felt that image summarizes a place that wouldn’t be protected [without the action of a few conservationists]. Animals there are not used to human disturbance and seemed very relaxed around me. They let me into their world. I got to witness this abundance and this symphony of life scratching out a living. Realizing that it’s not just doing well but it’s thriving, because of protection.

It was like being in the middle of a really intense scientific experiment. On islands that had thousands of sheep I would find almost no nesting habitats, birds, or native animals. At another place, where one person invested in wild habitats, protected it, and got rid of all the sheep and [invasive] rats, we watched [the wildlife] explode. I realized how resilient nature is, how badly it wants to come back.

Four billion years of evolutionary process created these masterpieces in nature. It’s just amazing.

Are you optimistic for the future of the Falkland Islands?

You can protect a place like Steeple Jason and have the wildlife thrive and if there’s no fishing around it, then the marine ecosystem thrives, but you think of one massive oil spill and you realize that that stuff can be destroyed. We have tens of thousands of birds flying offshore feeding, and ultimately, when you think about the plastics coming down on the ocean currents you realize no place is ultimately safe. You realize how perfect and beautiful it is but also, still, how vulnerable it is with other forces outside of the islands themselves.

It felt like I was going back to my childhood of being immersed in wild habitat, just to be alone on this island with nature like that.

I’ve always believed that Heaven is here and now. We’re so busy in our lives with our phones and computers and we’re dreaming of an afterlife of where we’re going to go next, but we are living in Heaven. It doesn’t get any better than that—this is it for me. And we’re killing it.

But being [in the Falklands] really lifted my spirits. It gave me hope that places will recover if we can just get out of the way.

This interview was edited for length and clarity. It has been updated with a few small changes to better clarify the location of predators and number of birds on the islands.

 

Source: https://www.nationalgeographic.com/

Come sopravvivere all’amore

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PicsArt_02-28-01.19.22

Struggente e poetico, “Come sopravvivere all’amore” è una raccolta di racconti, aneddoti, gag, ma soprattutto è un libro che parla di conclusioni e di nuovi inizi, di morti e di resurrezioni e del potere salvifico dell’amore. D’amore hanno parlato i più grandi, da quando la letteratura è nata a oggi. Perché l’amore è un sentimento universale, che tutti proviamo e di cui tutti siamo involontarie vittime. Saso ne parla e ne discute, prova a farne poesie e racconti, ma anche post di facebook e battute sarcastiche. Una selezione di contributi sull’amore nel classico stile no sense di un autore che con il suo libro d’esordio ha scalato le classifiche di Amazon. “Il tanto atteso seguito di Come sopravvivere ai Calabresi. Un Saso più romantico, stavolta, malinconico, a volte perso, ma ancora, purtroppo o per fortuna, incapace di prendersi troppo sul serio. Attenzione: sconsigliato agli animi troppo sensibili”.

 

Photography: Ines Palumbo

https://www.amazon.com/review/R852BGGTZMAM7/ref=pe_1098610_137716200_cm_rv_eml_rv0_rv

Mancinismo

Gli scienziati hanno scoperto il motivo per cui alcune persone sono mancine. E non ha niente a che fare con il cervello

  • Nel mondo circa il 10% delle persone è mancina
  • Nel corso degli anni sono emerse molte teorie sul perché alcune persone preferiscono usare la mano sinistra
  • Uno studio pubblicato l’anno scorso ha scoperto che destrismo e mancinismo potrebbero non avere niente a che fare con il cervello, ma sarebbero determinati invece dall’attività dei geni nel midollo spinale quando si è nell’utero

Storicamente le persone mancine non hanno ricevuto sempre un buon trattamento. Sono state perseguitateper la loro disposizione, etichettate come cattive, addirittura come streghenonostante rappresentino il 10% della popolazione. Pensate al significato della parola “sinistro”.

Nel corso dei decenni sono emerse alcune teorie sul perché alcune persone siano mancine, tra cui un’idea superata che chiama in causa lo stress materno durante la gravidanza.

È una questione di midollo spinale, non di cervello

Agf

A partire dagli anni Ottanta, la ricerca ha scoperto che la nostra preferenza per la mano destra o sinistra è determinata più probabilmente prima della nascita. Screening con gli ultrasuoni stimano già dall’ottava settimana della gravidanza. Dalla tredicesima settimana all’interno dell’utero i bambini tendono a succhiare il pollice sia della mano destra sia della sinistra.

Una volta si pensava che le differenze genetiche tra gli emisferi destro e sinistro del cervello determinassero destrismo o mancinismo. Ma uno studio pubblicato l’anno scorso sulla rivista scientifica eLife ha scoperto che la risposta potrebbe risiedere nel midollo spinale.

Leggi anche: I mancini sono più dotati degli altri? In matematica potrebbe essere così

La ricerca, condotta da Sebastian Ocklenburg, Judith Schmitz e Onur Gunturkun dell’Università della Ruhr a Bochum  (Germania), insieme ad altri colleghi olandesi e sudafricani, ha scoperto che l’attività dei geni nel midollo spinale era asimmetrica nell’utero e poteva essere la causa del perché una persona sia destra o mancina.

I movimenti del braccio e della mano nascono nel cervello, in un’area definita “corteccia motoria” che invia un segnale al midollo spinale poi tradotto in movimento. I ricercatori hanno scoperto che mentre il feto cresce nell’utero, fino a circa 15 settimane, la corteccia motoria e il midollo spinale non sono ancora collegati, ma il destrismo e il mancinismo sono stati già determinati.

In altre parole, il bambino può già iniziare a muoversi esceglie una mano preferita prima che il cervello inizi a controllare il corpo.

Per studiare questo fatto, i ricercatori hanno analizzato l’espressione genica nel midollo spinale dall’ottava alla dodicesima settimana di gravidanza. Hanno scoperto differenze significative nei segmenti sinistro e destro del midollo spinale che controlla il movimento del braccio e della mano.

Hanno quindi concluso che la natura asimmetrica del midollo spinale potesse dipendere da qualcosa chiamato epigenetica, o il modo in cui gli organismi sono influenzati dalle variazioni presenti nella loro espressione genica piuttosto che nei geni stessi.

Questi cambiamenti sono spesso provocati da influenze ambientali e possono influenzare la crescita del bambino.

Queste differenze nell’espressione genica potrebbero interessare in modo diverso le parti destre e sinistre del midollo spinale, traducendosi in individui mancini o destri.

Leggi anche: Ho fatto i test genetici AncestryDNA e 23andMe: volete sapere qual è il migliore?

Allora perché i mancini sono così rari?

Agf

La domanda assilla da tempo i ricercatori.

Nel 2012 i ricercatori della Northwestern University svilupparono un modello matematico per mostrare come la percentuale di mancini fosse il risultato dell’evoluzione umana — in particolare, un equilibrio tra cooperazione e competizione.

In altre parole, hanno pensato che, anche se il fondamento del destrismo o del mancinismo può essere genetico, potrebbe esistere un fattore sociale che spiega come mai il rapporto è così sbilanciato.

“Più l’animale è sociale e ha una maggiore considerazione della cooperazione, più la popolazione generale tenderà verso un lato”, ha dichiarato a LiveScience Daniel Abrams, assistente alla McCormick School of Engineering and Applied Science che ha contribuito allo sviluppo del modello.

Leggi anche: Dai denti del giudizio all’appendice, 5 parti del corpo diventate inutili con l’evoluzione

“Il fattore più importante per una società efficiente è rappresentato da un elevato grado di cooperazione”, ha aggiunto. “Negli esseri umani ciò ha portato a una maggioranza di destri”.

Per cui, per qualche motivo, potremmo esserci evoluti favorendo il destrismo e facendo sì che chiunque deviasse da questa tendenza fosse condizionato a usare principalmente quella mano nonostante la propria disposizione genetica.

In effetti, Judith Schmitz, una degli autori del nuovo studio, ha detto a Business Insider che studi sui gemelli hanno dimostrato che il contributo della genetica alla preferenza della mano è di circa il 25%.

Il nuovo studio non è riuscito a spiegare la maggioranza del destrismo, ma Schmitz ha spiegato come la ricerca ornitologica riesca a mostrare in che modo genetica e ambiente possano essere la causa.

Leggi anche: In 27 anni in Germania sono morti 3/4 degli insetti volanti e non si sa perché. Rischio di ‘effetto domino’ su piante e uccelli

“Nei polli e nei piccioni un fattore genetico determina la posizione all’interno dell’uovo prima che si schiuda — l’embrione è raggomitolato in modo che l’occhio destro sia rivolto verso il guscio semi-trasparente, mentre quello sinistro è coperto dal corpo dell’embrione stesso”, ha detto.

“Quindi, l’occhio destro è stimolato dalla luce prima della schiusa, mentre il sinistro è perlopiù privato di luce. Questa combinazione di fattori genetici e ambientali (luce) provoca una visuale asimmetrica — piccioni e polli posseggono una discriminazione e una categorizzazione visive e una memorizzazione di pattern visivi migliori con l’occhio destro rispetto al sinistro. Se le uova di gallina o di piccione vengono incubate al buio, si previene lo sviluppo di tale asimmetria”.

Le cause del mancinismo hanno ancora del misterioso – in parte, dicono gli esperti, perché i mancini vengono spesso esclusi dalle ricerche scientifiche – ed è difficile prevedere se un bambino nascerà destro o mancino.

Di una cosa siamo, però, sicuri: le differenze neurologiche tra destri e mancini sono minori, mentre le supposte distinzioni comportamentali e psicologiche sono state ampiamente smentite.

https://it.businessinsider.com/gli-scienziati-hanno-scoperto-il-motivo-per-cui-alcune-persone-sono-mancine-e-non-ha-niente-a-che-fare-con-il-cervello/

Science

Leonardo da Vinci Science - Anatomical Studies

Leonardo da Vinci was a renowned scientist, often ahead of his time with the scientific discoveries he made and the theories he formulated

This article explains Da Vinci’s scientific method, how it related to the cultural and scientific climate of the time, and some of the key scientific discoveries that it generated.

What was Da Vinci’s Scientific Method?

Da Vinci is often described as being a true Renaissance polymath: that is, a person who wishes to understand all branches of knowledge. As such, Da Vinci is likely to have viewed scientific research as a complement to his researches in art and languages as well as to the study of theology.

In short, science in his world view was probably one of several branches of knowledge that he wishes to master in order to achieve a well rounded education. Da Vinci’s scientific method consisted of a mix of observation of the world around him and the physical experimentation with, and construction of, new inventions, aided by preliminary sketches.

Though his hunger for all types of new knowledge and discovery planted him firmly at the heart of what many consider to be Renaissance values, in another way Da Vinci was something of an unconventional scientist. This is because, despite the fact that university culture was flourishing in Italy during his life time, he never attended a university (and thus had no formal education in mathematics, despite being a great mathematician).

It could be argued that this lack of a formal structure to his education is precisely what enabled Da Vinci to be such a free thinker and such a good scientist. Da Vinci’s scientific interests, inventions and experiments spread out vastly into numerous different areas of science. Not only was he interested in chemistry and geology but also in astronomy, pyrotechnics, biology (or zoology), human and animal anatomy and mechanical engineering. Da Vinci’s scientific endeavours were so ahead of his time that he has anticipated many devices that we consider to be ‘modern’.

Two key examples of this are the calculator and solar panels for generating electricity. Now, let’s take a look at a few of Leonardo Da Vinci’s key scientific inventions and findings. This is most certainly not an exhaustive list of his scientific achievements but is more just to give a flavour of the types of scientific work that he applied himself to.

Da Vinci’s Studies in Anatomy

Da Vinci made many detailed drawings of both human and animal anatomy. His famous drawing of the Vitruvian Man is an example of his interest in the proportions of the human body. This drawing is a good example of how several of Da Vinci’s scientific works could also be considered works of art. There is no doubt that Da Vinci’s in depth knowledge of the human anatomy beneath the skin enabled him to create such dynamic and realistic portraits of human beings in his paintings.

Da Vinci produced numerous anatomical studies in his sketchbooks, and it is clear from them that he was very interested in the relationship between skeletal muscle and movement. He writes in one journal of discovering how pulling gently on a single muscle fibre can make a cadaver’s whole arm, move, for instance. Gestation was another topic that keenly excited Da Vinci’s medical mind: he studied the way in which the foetus develops in the womb in such detail that his drawings remained useful for several centuries afterwards. Finally, Da Vinci also had a significant interest in comparative anatomy.

That is to say, he was interested in comparing the anatomical make up with human beings to those of other animals (especially horses). This interest in comparative anatomy, combined with Da Vinci’s studies of fossils, may have led him to hit upon a rudimentary theory of evolution.

However, it would very likely have been considered a heresy had he published this theory or spoken about it in public, so it is likely that if he did formulate such a theory that he was likely to have kept his ideas to himself. Galileo Galilei, another important early modern scientist, was captured, tortured and condemned by the Roman Inquisition for stating his scientific belief in a heliocentric solar system (i.e. a solar system where the earth and planets orbit the sun rather than – as was thought at the time – the sun orbiting the earth).

Da Vinci’s Relationship with Geology

Da Vinci traced his interest in geology back to a powerful childhood memory that he had of entering a cave near where he was living and seeing, by torchlight, bands of different fossils in the rock. This suggested to him that at one time the cave – which was high up in the Apennine Mountains – was once below sea level. Leonardo studied the way in which sedimentary rock was formed and this led him to dismiss the notion that it was Noah’s Great Flood that caused the sea shells to be thrown up into the mountains.

However, because these ideas would be very likely to have been considered heretical at the time as they were contrary to the Bible’s teachings, it is possible that Da Vinci was dissuaded from pursuing or publishing any further formal studies in geology.

Hydrodynamic Studies

As a young man, Da Vinci used to construct numerous different objects thanks to an uncle who taught him how. Da Vinci thus made a very good self taught civil engineer. He constructed several inventions that were deemed to be very useful by the state of the time, including bridges and several catapults. One significant aspect of his studies in civil engineering involved hydrodynamics.

Da Vinci created several machines that were designed to control the flow of water, including a corkscrew shaped contraption (based on ancient Roman hydraulic systems) that was able to move water in a vertically upward direction.

Overview of Some of Da Vinci’s other Scientific Discoveries

From his perpetual motion machine to his theories about the relationship between light and opaque bodies, Da Vinci’s scientific discoveries are all totally fascinating. He used his geometrical investigations to understand more about perspective (and subsequently applied this knowledge in his works of art), for instance, whilst his love of flowers and plants led him to study and to sketch the makeup of trees and flowers with as much skill and dedication as he devoted to the inner workings of the human body.

He came to some surprising conclusions, here. For example, he wrote as if it was an axiom that if at any point during a tree’s life you measured the thicknesses of all of its branches (excluding the central trunk) and added those thicknesses together, the final value would equal the value for the thickness of the trunk itself.

Discovering Da Vinci’s Scientific Mind through his Journals and Publications

Da Vinci’s plethora of sketch books and journals are a window onto his scientific mind. Usually, Da Vinci wrote in his journals and annotated his scientific diagrams with mirror writing (i.e. writing that could be read by placing a mirror up against the page). He also published one scientific work. This was a mathematical treatise on proportion which was published in 1509.

Da Vinci co wrote it with one of his friends, the mathematician Luca Pacioli, and it was entitled De divina proportione. Many of Da Vinci’s scientific discoveries were not made manifest by means of the printed word, however, but by practical demonstrations. He loved to create models as well as life size working inventions of his bridges, catapults and other war machines.

He also worked physically with lenses and other optical devices. Da Vinci also claimed to have created a formula for a perpetual motion machine. This is a machine that stays in motion once it has been started, without any need for a further supply of energy and without losing any energy or momentum due to friction or air resistance.

To this day, scientists and engineers would love to know how to create a highly energy efficient machine such as this one. However, thus far, this has been one of Da Vinci’s discoveries (assuming that he truly had concocted a way to make such as machine) that continues to elude the minds of modern scientists.

http://www.leonardo-da-vinci.net/science/

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