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Learning from Leonardo by Fritjof Capra

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5The Elements of Mechanics

As Leonardo studied, drew, and painted “all the forms of nature,” he investigated not only their external qualities and proportions but also the forces that had shaped and continued to transform them. He saw similar patterns in the macro- and microcosm, but his careful investigations of these patterns of organization made him realize that the forces underlying them were quite different.

In his extensive studies of flowing water, Leonardo recognized correctly that gravity and the fluid’s internal friction, or viscosity, were the two principal forces operating in its movements (see p. 39). In his detailed observations ...

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