Water as Microscope of Nature

Leonardo da Vinci's Codex Leicester

P3 5 CA 559rThe lists of books and manuscripts recorded in his codexes indicate that Leonardo had assembled a large personal library at the time he was composing the Codex Leicester. Now in his fifties, he had assimilated notions of traditional natural philosophy, mechanics, optics, and cosmology. His sources include Plato, Aristotle, Strabo, and Archimedes among the Greeks; and Frontinus, Albert the Great, Albert of Saxony, but also Dante Alighieri, Ristoro d’Arezzo, and Cecco d’Ascoli among Latin and medieval authors. Leonardo continuously tested these writings against experience, often refuting their assertions. However, he never formulated an organic interpretation of nature and its operations. His research was an endless quest, a process in which he constantly challenged the conclusions he had reached.