Guest Author - Laura A Zennie
The Renaissance was a time for great discovery, and as the name implies, re-birth. During this time there were not only great advances in art, but also in mathematics, architecture and science. Some of these advances include new techniques for drawing and painting, and also sculpting, as well as a wealth of new inventions.
One of these great inventions of the Renaissance was the mechanical clock. Clocks had been used since ancient times, although, not very accurately. With the invention of the mechanical clock, time started to be measured in hours. Another invention that goes hand-in-hand with the clock was the pendulum. Galileo invented the pendulum in 1581. This greatly improved the accuracy and the timekeeping ability of the clocks of the time.
Another invention that is still in use today is the invention of spectacles, or eyeglasses. There is evidence that various types of magnifying and reading lenses were used over the centuries, the first evidence of actual eyeglasses was in Italy in the late thirteenth century. There is no evidence, however, as to who, precisely, invented them. They are seen in various paintings from Italy at that time, which is the earliest verifiable evidence that they existed then.
In conjunction with the invention of eyeglasses followed the inventions of the microscope and telescope. Galileo also greatly improved upon the telescope, taking it from 3x magnification to 30x magnification. He made many telescopes in his pursuit of proving that the Earth was not the center of the Universe. He discovered the largest moons of Jupiter, which are known as the Galilean Satellites.
We usually credit the flush toilet to Alexander Cummings in 1775, and later to Thomas Crapper, who both patented various types of flush toilets. The actual first flush toilet was invented by neither of these two men, having been invented by Sir John Harrington, the Godson of Queen Elizabeth I, in 1596. He published a pamphlet on the subject, which described the toilet that he installed in his own home. At the time, it did not catch on in England, although it did catch on somewhat in France.
One of the greatest inventions of the Late Renaissance was the printing press. Until this time, books were rare and extremely expensive, as they had to be written by hand. Due to the scarcity of books, illiteracy was rampant. Most important items were passed by word of mouth, unless one was a scholar and could afford books. With the invention of the Gutenberg printing press, books became much less expensive to produce, and they were more readily available to the public, thus promoting literacy. The first widespread publication was the Bible, which is even today the number one top selling book worldwide.
Da Vinci first drew a design for a submarine, which was later invented by Cornelius van Drebbel in 1624. This submarine could go up to 15 feet underwater. Da Vinci had designs for many mechanisms that were not practical in his day. He had a flying machine, much like a helicopter, among them. Many of his designs have since been invented in more modern times.
As you can see there were many inventions during the Renaissance, some that we credit to later, more modern times.