Think Like da Vinci: Connect the Unconnected

One warm and sunny afternoon, hundreds of years ago outside Florence Italy, in Fiesole, Leonardo da Vinci took a walk to the hills to study and sketch flying birds. He was fascinated with bats, birds, kites and anything that could fly. 

As da Vinci was studying flying birds he had the idea to combine the thought of flying birds with humans. How can they relate? He wondered, which led him to coming up with the new concept of “flying machines” for humans. Throughout his life he sketched a number of flying machines which he drew centuries ahead of the time when actual progress could be made toward making these machines.

Leonardo da Vinci’s innovative thinking helped “plant seeds” for future generations.

Let’s call this thought-exercise of da Vinci’s “Connecting the Unconnected” because that’s what he called it, haha. He wrote in one of his notebooks that he used this exercise for creative inspiration, and although he suggested others can use this method to inspire brilliant ideas, he wrote about this strategy in a mirror-image reversed script that only he could read. This was a secret sort of backward handwriting he created that you would need a mirror to read.

His innovation was evidently limitless.

In the year 1500 da Vinci discovered that sound travels in waves by using this thought-exercise. Here’s the story:

One day when he was standing near a well he noticed a stone hit the water while a bell went off in a church tower close by. He observed that the stone caused a ripple effect, making small waves until they disappeared. By focusing on the water ripples and the sound of the bell, he dwelled in how they could be connected and came to the conclusion that sound travels in waves.

Yea, wow…I guess this is what genius is.

140 years later, Marin Mersenne was the first to measure the speed of sound in air. Again, da Vinci was ahead of his time.

Einstein is also known for using a similar method of “connecting the unconnected” or “thought experiments” which is how he came up with e=mc².

“Imagination is more important than knowledge. For knowledge is limited, whereas imagination embraces the entire world, stimulating progress, giving birth to evolution.” 

Einstein is also quoted with saying:

“I never came upon any of my discoveries through the process of rational thinking.”

So if you’re looking for new ideas, want to be more creative in life, or just want to overcome boredom, try connecting the unconnected. See what innovating ideas you can come up with, and you never know, they may just end up changing the world.