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The bridge design of Da Vinci still lasts for 500 years, as the MIT proves

  Model of a bridge designed by Leonardo da Vinci.

MIT graduate Karly Bast shows a model of a bridge designed by Leonardo da Vinci, with which she and her colleagues proved the feasibility of the design.


It is 1502 BC And Sultan Bayezid II. Sends an invitation to tender: He wants someone to build a huge bridge that spans the Golden Horn and connects Istanbul with neighboring Galata. If you are Leonardo da Vinci, you can not rely on modern reinforcement or asphalt. Forfeiting on wooden boards and even mortar joints, your design uses only three geometrically daring principles: the pressed arch, the parabolic curve and the keystone arch. With these you construct the then longest bridge in the world with an unparalleled span of 790 feet.

And after the Sultan's refusal, you would have to wait more than 500 years for your bridge design to finish. Tested by a team of ambitious MIT engineers and their handy 3D printer.

"It took a lot of time, but 3D printing allowed us to precisely replicate this very complex geometry," MIT graduate Karly Bast said in a news release on Thursday.

Bast worked with a team of engineering scientists to finally bring to life a true-to-life model of Da Vinci's famously rejected bridge design on a 1: 500 scale. In doing so, the long questioned geometry of the Renaissance man was put to the test by cutting the complex shapes into pieces, 126 individual blocks, which are then assembled only by gravity. The group, which presented their work this week in Barcelona, ​​relied on the sketches and descriptions in Da Vinci's letter of application as well as their own analysis of the construction methods of the era.

The structure is held together only by compression – The MIT team wanted to show that the armed forces were all transferred within the structure, Bast said. "When we put it in, we had to push it in."

Bast said she had her doubts, but when she put the capstone, she realized it would work. When the group removed the scaffolding, the bridge stopped.

"It's the power of geometry," she said.

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