Popular Science

How to build a steam-powered cannon invented by Da Vinci

A less deadly version of the Architronito

Da Vinci’s Architronito


Da Vinci’s Architronito

A selection from Paris Manuscript B, in which Da Vinci sketched his plans for the Architronito

Leonardo da Vinci, best known to modern audiences as an artist and Renaissance man, actually made his living as a military engineer. Da Vinci designed a number of highly original weapons, filling his notebooks with drawings and sketches for devices such as the first flintlock rifle, a 135-foot-wide rock-throwing catapult, and a rapid-firing repeater crossbow. One of his most interesting concepts was a steam-powered cannon.

Da Vinci called this invention the Architronito (which translates to “the thunder of Archimedes) after his inspiration, the Greek scientist Archimedes, who devised a steam-powered weapon to protect his home city of Syracuse from invaders. According to Da Vinci, Archimedes’ weapon used steam power to hurl a large projectile weighing one talent (around 50 pounds or so) with nearly as much velocity and momentum as a modern gunpowder-propelled

You're reading a preview, sign up to read more.

More from Popular Science

Popular Science3 min readTech
The Year's Most Exciting Innovations In Software
This article is a segment of 2017's Best of What's New list. For the complete tabulation of the year's most transformative products and discoveries, head right this way. A bot that knows your voice. Google In April, the Google Assistant became the fi
Popular Science5 min readTech
Your Smartphone Is Hijacking Your Brain. Here's How To Stop It.
Try being bored for a change. Depositphotos A sort of self-satisfied rage sets in whenever I see someone struggling to navigate typical life—and inconveniencing me in the process—because they simply cannot look up from their phone. I recently found m
Popular Science3 min readScience
Dangerous Hurricanes Come In All Shapes And Sizes (literally)
A satellite image of Hurricane Jose (left), Tropical Storm Maria (center), and Tropical Depression Lee (right), on September 17, 2017. hurricane jose How big is a hurricane? If you look at these storms from space, they’re just tiny blips in a large,