The Renaissance

In 1485, Leonardo da Vinci sketched ball bearings In 1534, Benvenuto Cellini sculpted a full size, silver, rotating statue of Jupiter for Franois 1. Thank’s to the statue’s thrust bearings, even a child could rotate the statue.

Determining longitude while at sea was a major strategic challenge: ships needed to be able to avoid shallows identified on maps to prevent being wrecked. In 1714, England launched "the Longitude Act", a competition to design an invention measuring a ship’s longitude to within 30 miles after six weeks out at sea. In 1749, the autodidact clockmaker, John Harrison, built four innovations that improved his marine chronometer. These included a roller bearing that improved the accuracy of timekeeping during an ocean crossing and made it possible to measure longitude by comparing the clock with the Greenwich astronomical tables.

In 1780, the first modern thrust bearings were built to support the main shaft of a windmill in Sprowston (Norwich), including a roof pointing windward.

In 1794, the Welshman Philip Vaughan filed the first patent with ball bearings rolling in semicircular grooves supporting radial loads for axles. In 1883, Friedrich Fischer, a sewing-machine maker, built the first ball-rectifying machine

In 1907, the Swede, Wingqvist, created the world’s first self-aligning ball bearings. He sold them to bicycle workshops (1885-1890) and they were later adopted by the automotive industry.

In 1918, the American engineer Timken patented the tapered roller bearing.

In 1922, the German Hoffman-Nadella patented the needle bearing.

Renaissance men like Francesco di Giorgio Martini were technically skilled, creative and aesthetic. In 1470, Martini sketched a four-wheel drive vehicle with steering, although according to Giancarlo Genta, the vehicle did not work well.

Leonardo da Vinci sketched a bike and a chariot in his 1478 Codex Atlanticus. In 2002, these were reconstructed from the sketches at the University of Florence’s History of Science Museum.

  • The bicycle has a chain, pedals and a modern configuration, by contrast with the 19th century Draisienne and Grand-Bi. The drawing is a forgery.
  • Si non e vero, e ben trovato!
  • The sketch of the cart, whose authenticity is not challenged, was wound like a watch and could go for 40 meters. In the detailed drawing, you can see an externally activated brake, a rear wheel with a trailer that was built and probably used to change stage scenery.

To survive into posterity, avoid using wood.

chariot Verbiest

In 1669, the Chinese emperor Kangxi organized a contest on astronomical predictions to put an end to the religious and scientific arguments between the Chamanists and the Jesuits.

The Flemish Jesuit missionary Ferdinand Verbiest , correctly answered the three questions using Kepler Rudolphin’s 1627 tables. He was declared the winner and appointed President of the Mathematics Tribunal. The official calendar was revised on the basis of his recommendations. The contest loser was tortured.

Verbiest later built astronomical instruments and bronze canons that still exist today. In 1668, he created the first self-propelled 65 cm long steam-powered vehicle. Note the external steering.Continue to avoid using wood.

If we understand the term automobileto refer to a self-propelled vehicle able to transport a human, earlier examples are not "vehicles".

Fardier de Cugnot

In 1769, The Fardier de Cugnot was the first self-propelled mechanical vehicle. Possibly inspired by Verbiest’s drawings, it added a steam engine invented by Newcomen in 1711 to pump water from flooded mines. Using existing technological element for new functions is one part of invention.

The engine had no brake, however, which resulted in the first car crash.

To survive into posterity, be sure that the press reports your accidents.

Remember to put brakes on your prototypes.

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