Leonardo da Vinci Predicted the Future with His Mechanical Refrigerator
As if changing the course of art forever, solving mysteries of human anatomy, and devising ways to fly wasn’t enough for one man, Leonardo da Vinci apparently also preempted the refrigerator. In about 1492, Leonardo sketched a mechanism of leather chambers, bellows, and a vacuum that would work together to keep any food or drink stored within cold. Now, the Museo Ideale Leonardo da Vinci and the Museum of Science and Technology in Milan have collaborated to bring Leonardo’s sketch to life.
In terms of energy efficiency and storage room, Leonardo’s invention has nothing on your stainless steel KitchenAid French door. Still, compared to the underground storage methods and unreliable natural ventilation people relied on at the time, Leonardo’s fridge was a revolution. After all, these weren’t the days of dehydrated ramen and Chef Boyardee’s. Most food had to be kept cold to be edible.
Firenze Today reports that, if Leonardo ever did erect the machine in his lifetime, and there’s no reason to believe he didn’t, it would likely have been used to cool drinks, ice, and desserts. A useful invention, as Leonardo was quite the entertainer. He would apparently host great banquets for Italian nobility, involving other contraptions like fountain machines.
If you’ve just got to see your refridgerator’s great—great grandfather in person, the recreation of Leonardo’s machine will be on view at Milan’s Expo 2015 world fair until the end of this October.