Leonardo Da Vinci's To-Do List Will Put You To Shame
Tucked away somewhere, maybe in a pocket notepad, scribbled on some paper in your wallet or buried in an obscure app you rarely use, is a to-list.
Now it might be your own personal 10 step plan for world domination, but if you're like the rest of us it probably contains all those minor tasks that are so nondescript they're ridiculously easy to forget.
You know the ones, things to pick up at the local supermarket, household tasks that need doing, people to email or call back and all the other bits and pieces that then make you wonder where the day went. But no matter how long your list might be or how ambitious it is - it pales into comparison to that of Leonardo Da Vinci’s.
Yep, even one of the greatest minds of a generation needed to keep track of things every now and then. In one of his notebooks dating back to around the 1490s, he wrote the following sentence "It is useful to constantly observe, note and consider."
Now who are we to argue with that sage piece of advice?
So what did type of tasks did Da Vinci's to-do lists contain? For starters his unrelenting thirst for knowledge and intellectual restlessness lead him to create a variety of tasks that are both broad and inspiring in scope.
The only trouble is that Da Vinci wrote everything in mirror script. So not only do you have to be well versed in 16th century Italian, you also need to be able to read in reverse or have a small mirror handy.
Thankfully NPR’s Robert Krulwich has had several of Da Vinci's to-do lists directly translated. What they reveal is a steady selection of different fields of study which Da Vinci wanted to explore and better understand.
Tasks include finding individuals who can help him gain a broader perspective in the field of astronomy, mathematics, anatomy and physics. He also casually makes a note to remind himself to "“draw Milan” as you do.
Here's a selection of some of the highlights, think of it as insight into one of the great minds of a generation.
1. Calculate the measurement of Milan and Suburbs
2. Find a book that treats of Milan and its churches, which is to be had at the stationers on the way to Cordusio
3. Discover the measurement of Corte Vecchio (the courtyard in the duke’s palace)
4. Discover the measurement of the Castello (the duke’s palace itself)
5. Get the master of arithmetic to show you how to square a triangle
6. Get Messer Fazio (a professor of medicine and law in Pavia) to show you about proportion
7. Get the Brera Friar (at the Benedictine Monastery to Milan) to show you De Ponderibus (a medieval text on mechanics)
8. Talk to]Giannino, the Bombardier, re. the means by which the tower of Ferrara is walled without loopholes (no one really knows what Da Vinci meant by this)
9. Ask Benedetto Potinari (A Florentine Merchant) by what means they go on ice in Flanders
10. Draw Milan
11. Ask Maestro Antonio how mortars are positioned on bastions by day or night
12. Examine the Crossbow of Mastro Giannetto
13. Find a master of hydraulics and get him to tell you how to repair a lock, canal and mill in the Lombard manner
14. Try to get Vitolone (the medieval author of a text on optics), which is in the Library at Pavia, which deals with the mathematics
15. Ask about the measurement of the sun promised me by Maestro Giovanni Francese