This day in science history: Leonardo da Vinci’s “helicopter”

January 14, 1493

Leonardo da Vinci is remembered as one of history’s most extraordinary artists and scientists. He even created that painting of a woman who almost smiled (it was hundreds of years until someone completely smiled in any work of art).

But his most misunderstood invention might be the “helicopter” he created.

Thanks to the journals of patron Lorenzo de Midici, we know the device’s true purpose.

Today, I took counsel with Leonardo, who showed me a proposal for a new creation that has sprung forth from his fertile mind. I have transcribed our discussion of it.

Midici: What wonder have you presented to me today, Leonardo?

Leonardo: My dear Lorenzo, it is the perfect spinner for pizza dough. You put the dough on the top and spin the base. The angle is perfection.

Midici: You’re joking.

Leonardo: No, my lord, the spinner creates a perfect thickness and circle for the dough.

Midici: Uh, I’m paying you for this? This is such a stereotypical Italian joke. This is like a joke the Flemish would make. You know how I feel about Flemland.

Leonardo: Uh, I was just kidding. I don’t love delicious pizza.

Midici: I’m not saying pizza’s bad, I’m saying that I fund your lavish lifestyle and I want something super cool. Just give me something war-like, and not offensive to Italians.

Leonardo: Fine. This pizza spinner doesn’t carry dough in the air.

Midici: What does it carry?

Leonardo: Steak?

Midici: I think you should go…

Leonardo: People! It carries people!

Midici: Amazing! I’m going to write this word for word in my journal now.

Leonardo’s helicopter never did fly, but years later, it inspired the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles’ favorite food: the pizza that Leonardo longed to create.

 

Fake Science

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