Da Vinci’s Tribometre; a Historical Look at Pulleys and Friction

In our series on pulleys we’ve been discussing the effects of friction, subjects also studied by Leonardo da Vinci, a historical figure whose genius contributed so much to the worlds of art, engineering, and science.   The tribometre shown in his sketch here is one of history’s earliest recorded attempts to understand the phenomenon of friction.   Tribology, according to the Merriam-Webster Dictionary, is “a study that deals with the design, friction, wear, and lubrication of interacting surfaces in relative motion.”   Depicted in da Vinci’s sketch are what appear to be pulleys from which dangle objects in mid-air.

da Vinci’s Tribometre; a Historical Look at Pulleys and Friction

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