Leonardo Da Vinci’s To Do List

Italian polymath Leonardo da Vinci is known not only as a great painter but also a great inventor. His voracious curiosity for knowledge and science led him to learn and master a variety of subjects. Recently I came across an article on “The To-Do List” he used to maintain around the 1490s. Unlike most to-do lists that we create using our cellphone apps and computers his to-do list is fascinating to say the least. A typical to-do list might look like :

  1. Play Golf 9-12
  2. Pay Credit Card XYZ
  3. Pay Credit Card ABC
  4. Pay Mortgage
  5. Pay Electric Bill
  6. Pay Gas Bill
  7. Conference in LA
  8. Football Practice Sunday 1-4
  9. Pay Doctor Bill
  10. Laundry
  11. Renew gym membership
  12. Car oil change
  13. Mow lawn
  14. Dinner date with wife

blah blah blah….

The above list is as dull as a to-do list can be.

Compared to the above typical list, below is an excerpt from the article on Leonardo’s to-do list:

[Calculate] the measurement of Milan and Suburbs

[Find] a book that treats of Milan and its churches, which is to be had at the stationer’s on the way to Cordusio

[Discover] the measurement of Corte Vecchio (the courtyard in the duke’s palace).

[Discover] the measurement of the castello (the duke’s palace itself)

Get the master of arithmetic to show you how to square a triangle.

Get Messer Fazio (a professor of medicine and law in Pavia) to show you about proportion.

Get the Brera Friar (at the Benedictine Monastery to Milan) to show you De Ponderibus (a medieval text on mechanics)

[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)

Ask Benedetto Potinari (A Florentine Merchant) by what means they go on ice in Flanders

Draw Milan

Ask Maestro Antonio how mortars are positioned on bastions by day or night.

[Examine] the Crossbow of Mastro Giannetto

Find a master of hydraulics and get him to tell you how to repair a lock, canal and mill in the Lombard manner

[Ask about] the measurement of the sun promised me by Maestro Giovanni Francese

Try to get Vitolone (the medieval author of a text on optics), which is in the Library at Pavia, which deals with the mathematic.

Source: Leonardo Da Vinci’s To Do List (Circa 1490), Open Culture

The entire above-linked article is worth a read.

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