The true Da Vinci code with Piergiorgio Odifreddi

Join us at the Shine Dome for an insightful public lecture by Italian mathematician and science writer, Piergiorgio Odifreddi. This year marks the 500th anniversary of Leonardo Da Vinci’s death and the legendary figure is being celebrated across the world as a ‘genius’ and a ‘visionary’. In this lecture, Odifreddi will argue that, while there are no doubts that Da Vinci was a great artist, he was a mediocre scientist and a bad mathematician.

Odifreddi will delve into the ‘true Da Vinci code’—the elements of Da Vinci’s legacy that are real breakthroughs, and those that are not. While Da Vinci’s artistic masterpieces such as the Last Supper and the Adoration of the Magi reveal an excellent knowledge of perspective techniques that are innovative for his time, his codes of machines (shown on multiple sketches) are often impossible to build and can only be interpreted in some rare cases, with the benefit of hindsight as a prefiguration of modern technologies.

However, Da Vinci’s portrayal of The Divine Proportion, a collection of sixty illustrations based on the work of his good friend and mathematician Luca Pacioli, is a unique contribution to the connection between mathematics and art, which has inspired many painters since, from Durer to Dali. We can find the same effect in Da Vinci’s renowned drawing of the Vitruvian Man, which links the proportions of the human figure to the circle and the square, symbolising Heaven and Earth respectively.

Book now for this unique public lecture to hear Odifreddi’s expert opinion on the truth of the Da Vinci Code.

About the speaker

Piergiorgio Odifreddi, born in Cuneo in 1950, is an Italian mathematician and logician, as well as a popular science writer and essayist. Odifreddi graduated with honours in mathematics in Turin, Italy in 1973; he then specialised in the United States at the University of Illinois and UCLA, and in the Soviet Union, at Novosibirsk State University. He taught Logic at the University of Turin and Cornell University. In 2011 he won the Galileo Award for Scientific Dissemination.

Odifreddi’s main field of research is computability theory, a branch of mathematical logic that studies the class of functions that can be calculated automatically. He is a regular contributor to the Italian science magazine Le Scienze and has also written for several general-interest newspapers. The Italian public television company RAI have hosted many of his discussions on various scientific topics. Odifreddi has also published a number of popular books on mathematics and science.

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