Taking Part in The Conversation: Da Vinci Proves Science and Art Aren’t Opposites

da Vinci's wing artwork

This year marks the 500-year anniversary of Leonardo da Vinci’s death, and even all these years later, we look at his work and admire his capacity to observe and create. His work is also the pinnacle of the intersection of art and science, and Ben Shneiderman, a professor of computer science at the University of Maryland, points this out in his latest article on The Conversation. “[Da Vinci] was able to compare the speed of a bird’s wing movement downwards and upwards. He noticed the differences between arteries carrying blood from the heart and the veins bringing the blood back, so as to draw accurate models of the human circulatory system,” Shneiderman writes. He then points out that da Vinci is just one example of how art and science help each other.

There are many examples of art helping scientists become better at their craft. Dermatologists were better at spotting skin lesions on patients after studying paintings at a museum. Doctors who are musically trained are better at hearing the nuances in heartbeats. And da Vinci came to understand the way water moves because he spent so much time observing and painting it.

Science helps art just as much as art helps science. For example, the mp3 audio format was engineered specifically to transmit songs in a compact way.  Think also of visual effects in movies, which are computer graphics designed to enhance art (the movie) and make it feel more real. Shneiderman believes that we should continue to recognize this partnership between science and art. He proposes that we “restore prominence to the power of integrative thinking that Leonardo still exemplifies.

To read more about how these two fields are related in ways you might not think of, read Shneiderman’s full article here: https://theconversation.com/leonardo-joined-art-with-engineering-113967