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Gizmorama - July 27, 2016

Good Morning,


I don't know if this story will rub you the wrong way, but scribbled pages in a notebook of one Leonardo da Vinci may offer the earliest notations on the laws of friction.

Learn about this and more interesting stories from the scientific community in today's issue.

Until Next Time,
Erin


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*-- Scribbles found to be Leonardo da Vinci's earliest notes on laws of friction --*

CAMBRIDGE, England - Scribbled pages in a notebook of Leonardo da Vinci, previously dismissed as nonsense, have been revealed as the polymath's earliest musings on the laws of friction.

Leonardo is widely considered the founder of tribology, a branch of mechanical engineering and materials science that deals with the principles of friction.

Now, scientists have a better understanding of when Leonardo first began to understand the laws of friction. In the years following these early scribbles, Leonardo would expand on the role of friction in engineering and the development of machines.

The significance of the scribbles was discovered by Ian Hutchings, a professor engineering at the University of Cambridge.

"The sketches and text show Leonardo understood the fundamentals of friction in 1493," Hutchings said in a news release.

Art historians had previously dismissed the scribbles as nonsense, focusing instead on the significance of a sketch of a woman some suggest is Helen of Troy. Beneath the woman figure is a quote: "cosa bella mortal passa e non dura," or "mortal beauty passes and does not last."

Next to his thoughts on the principles of friction are a series of sketched diagrams, one depicting a pulley system with a series of blocks supporting a rope tied to a heavy weight.

"He knew that the force of friction acting between two sliding surfaces is proportional to the load pressing the surfaces together and that friction is independent of the apparent area of contact between the two surfaces," Hutchings said.

Until now, science historians have credited French scientist Guillaume Amontons with first describing the laws of friction -- 200 years after Leonardo first put them on paper.

"Leonardo's 20-year study of friction, which incorporated his empirical understanding into models for several mechanical systems, confirms his position as a remarkable and inspirational pioneer of tribology," Hutchings concluded.

Hutchings' analysis of Leonardo's early ideas on friction is detailed in a new paper, published this week in the journal Wear.

Leonardo's groundbreaking notebook is currently on display at the Victoria and Albert Museum in London.



*-- Early humans used mammoth ivory tool to make rope --*

TüBINGEN, Germany - Despite its technological importance to early hunter-gatherers, archaeologists know relatively little about the production and use of rope and twine during the Paleolithic Era.

Artifacts recently unearthed in Germany suggest some early humans used specialized ivory tools to make rope.

Researchers from the University of Tübingen and the University of Liège recovered a neatly preserved piece of mammoth ivory with intricate carvings. Researchers determined the tool was made 40,000 years ago, around the time the first humans arrived in Europe. Analysis of the ivory suggests the carved notches weren't simply for decoration but were for the explicit purpose of weaving plant fibers into rope.

Scientists came to their conclusion after rigorous testing. Rope-making best explains the ivory's technological features, researchers argue in a new paper on the discovery -- published this week in the German-language journal Archäologische Ausgrabungen Baden-Württemberg.

It's not the first time researchers have uncovered carved ivory among Paleolithic artifacts. Scientists have previously suggested similar ivory tools were used as shaft-straighteners. Others argued the carved ivory were pieces of art or musical instruments.

The newly recovered ivory was better preserved than previous ivory artifacts, allowing scientists to more accurately test its utility for various tasks.

"This tool answers the question of how rope was made in the Paleolithic, a question that has puzzled scientists for decades," Veerle Rots, a paleontologist from Liège, said in a news release.

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