OUTLOOK — By Fatma Al Ardhi — Physics is a very straightforward branch of science. Anyone who agrees with the sentence, congratulations! In my eyes you’ve just gained 25 IQ points and earned a huge chunk of my respect. Physics has been, for a very long time, a huge struggle for me to comprehend. I didn’t hate it, as I always thought that if I was able to understand its laws it would give me a better understanding and a greater appreciation about the universe.
Even though I tried to put that idea aside, it never stopped me from trying to understand the biggest scientific discovery of our modern day time: the Higgs boson. One thing I learned from Particle Physicists; it’s very hard for them to use laymen terms when it comes to particle physics to get the message through for the public to understand why they are so hyped about. Alas, uncovering the secrets of the universe would just have to wait for now!
But there is however another discovery that I felt didn’t receive its share fair of media and global attention when it was first recovered earlier this year: drawings of the human anatomy made by none other than the Renaissance Man himself; Leonardo Da Vinci. What many of us never knew was that Leonardo had always had a passion for science and the human body was an intriguing mystery for him that he took it to himself to discover it from the 1480s to 1513. This meant that he had to put aside his artistic work on hold during that period. His first encounter was dissecting animals, but he soon moved in to dissecting corpses; 30 human corpses to be exact. His precious drawings and findings were all noted down and were all meant to be published, but all that hardwork went missing right after his death in 1519.
It is true that Leonardo may not have unlocked the secrets of how the body works: his drawing of how some of the bodily systems were represented indicated that he was under the impression that man and animal’s anatomy weren’t so different. He was also influenced about older and inaccurate ideas about the human body from previous scholars.
But when you actually see the drawings that were hanged across the walls of the Queen’s Gallery, close by Buckingham Palace in London, and see drawings of the respiratory system, muscular system, cardiovascular system, the skeletal structure of the human skull all dissected and segmented so finely that it required the skill of a surgeon of our modern day time to replicate, you can only forgive Leonardo for these small slip-ups.
What is so unique about these “lost treasures” is that they pictured the wonderful world of the human body in such high definition. It was as if they were drawn by someone with an earnest passion for science accompanied by an artistic flare by replicating pictures from the finest 3-D devices of modern time and the end result looked as if you were staring at drawings of the Human Body from our Biology textbooks.
You appreciate the magnitude of these works when you find out that they were more than 500 years ago!
But like I said earlier, “what would have been”. You can only feel sorry for Leonardo as he was a man who was very much ahead of his time and didn’t receive his fair share of recognition as a scientist as much as he did as an artist. For me it does explain a lot: for someone to have produced artistic masterpieces where the humanity of subjects that were at the centre of the paintings were drawn with a high degree of mastery could have only resulted from someone who was obsessed and deeply fascinated about who and what he was drawing. One thing is for sure, that Higgs boson will be around for a while now, so we might as well start getting to know it better!