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Nova

Dead Sea Scroll Detectives

Decoding da Vinci

Wednesday, Nov. 13, at 9 p.m.
Repeats Thursday, Nov. 14, at 2 a.m.

How was Leonardo da Vinci able to think so far “outside the box” that he envisaged developments in engineering, astronomy and anatomy that were only realized centuries later? The list of da Vinci’s “firsts” is astonishing: he asserted, more than a generation before Copernicus, that the sun does not move; he reasoned that fatty deposits in narrowed arteries were caused by an unhealthy diet; and he drew the first designs for a parachute, armored car, machine gun, diving suit, history’s first humanoid robot
and more.

His inventions and insights have come down to us through his notebooks, each page packed with a profusion of ingenious ideas and breathtaking drawings but revealing little about his personal life or character. As a result, the man behind the Mona Lisa and a host of futuristic inventions remains a shadowy figure.

Walter Isaacson, author of the acclaimed recent da Vinci biography, journeys to Italy to explore the impact of da Vinci’s art on his science, and of his science on his art.

 

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