Machine for grinding concave mirrors, c 1500.
© Science Museum / Science & Society Picture Library
Model. This machine is based on a design by Leonardo da Vinci (1452-1519). A concave mirror is a curved surface, with a polished inner surface. Its ability to produce real and virtual images made it useful to early scientific investigations. Da Vinci was a Florentine painter, sculptor, architect, engineer, and the outstanding all-round genius of the Renaisance period. He had a wide knowledge and understanding far beyond his times of most of the sciences, including biology, anatomy, physiology, hydrodynamics, mechanics and aeronautics. Knowledge of both this machine and of da Vinci's interest in mirrors come from his scientific notebooks, written in mirror writing.