Some 500 years after his demise, researchers are nonetheless discovering simply how gifted and good Leonardo da Vinci was. Architects and civil engineers on the Massachusetts Institute of Know-how used a 3D printer to create a replica of a bridge da Vinci designed, however by no means constructed. To their shock, not solely did it work, however it will have additionally revolutionized bridge design 5 centuries in the past.
Because the story goes, in 1502 A.D. the Sultan Bayezid II wished to construct a bridge to attach the town of Istanbul to its neighbor, Galata. One of many proposed designs got here from Leonardo da Vinci, who had already made a reputation for himself within the arts and sciences on the time. In a letter he despatched to the sultan, accompanied by a pocket book filled with sketches, da Vinci described a bridge that will span the proposed distance utilizing a single, flattened arch design, supported by bases on both shore. Bridges on the time have been sometimes made utilizing a collection of semicircular arches, and to span the gap between the 2 cities would have required at the least 10 evenly spaced piers in between to help your complete construction. Da Vinci’s design, which might have simply allowed sailboats to cross beneath it, was radically totally different (and centuries forward of its time), which might be why the sultan determined to not take the danger. Half a millennium later, researchers have been curious if it will have succeeded.
The unique notes and illustrations describing the bridge didn’t specify what supplies could be used to construct it, or how it will truly be constructed. However the MIT researchers concluded that the one materials that will have supplied ample energy was stone, and based mostly on the constructing strategies generally employed across the similar time da Vinci got here up with this design, the bridge would have in all probability been engineered to depend on gravity to carry all of its items collectively.
To check their assumptions, the staff at MIT created a 1:500-scale duplicate, measuring about 32 inches lengthy, that will be assembled from 126 blocks of various styles and sizes, created by a 3D printer. The true bridge, had it truly been constructed, would have required 1000’s of exactly chiseled stone blocks for its meeting, however the strategy MIT took for the duplicate nonetheless allowed them to correctly check the feasibility of its design.
Not solely did the bridge work, remaining sturdy and steady with out the usage of any mortars or fasteners, however the staff at MIT additionally realized that da Vinci had even engineered a technique to decrease undesirable lateral actions within the construction, which might have shortly led to its collapse. The footings on both aspect of the arched bridge featured designs that splayed outwards so as to add a substantial quantity of stability. The bridge would have even survived most earthquakes, which have been widespread on the time in that space, because the MIT researchers found by placing their duplicate on two movable platforms. It wasn’t indestructible, however it will have been an historical architectural marvel.