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The True Da Vinci Code



The True Da Vinci Code

odifreddi 3

The True Da Vinci Code -  A talk by Piergiorgio Odifreddi. In English.

"The Da Vinci Code" is just the last chapter of the secular path which led to the association of the figure of Leonardo to words like ‘genius’, ‘superlative intellect’ and ‘visionary’: a journey celebrated around the world this year on the occasion of the five hundredth anniversary of his death. There are no doubts Da Vinci was a great artist, however a mediocre scientist and a bad mathematician. While his artistic masterpieces such as the Last Supper and the Adoration of the Magi reveal an excellent knowledge of the perspective techniques, totally innovative for his time; on the other side, his codes, shown on a multitude of sketches of machines, are often impossible to build and, only in some rare cases, they can be interpreted with the benefit of hindsight, as prefiguration of modern technologies.

We must accept the fact that Leonardo was more at ease with brushes than with numbers. However, one of those chances in life led him to meet and become good friend with the mathematician Luca Pacioli, who wrote a treaty on “The divine proportion” at the end of the 15th century and asked Da Vinci to illustrate it. The results were sixty drawings of solids shapes, more or less regular, in different contexts: full or skeletal, whole or truncated, normal or starry. These sketches remain a unique contribution to the connection between mathematic and art, and have inspired many contemporary and later painters, from Durer to Dali. We can find the same effect in Leonardo’s renowned drawing of the Vitruvian Man, which links the proportions of the human figure to the circle and the square, symbolizing respectively Heaven and Earth.




Piergiorgio Odifreddi, born in Cuneo in 1950, is an Italian mathematician and logician, extremely active also as a popular science writer and essayist. Odifreddi received his Laurea cum laude in mathematics in Turin in 1973; he then specialized 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 Italian science magazine Le Scienze and has also written for several general-interest newspapers such as La Repubblica, La Stampa and L'Espresso. The Italian public television company RAI have hosted many of his discussions on various scientific topics.

His most influential popular books are Le menzogne di Ulisse (Ulysses' Lies, 2004), C’è spazio per tutti (There’s room for everyone, 2010) and Il museo dei numeri (The museum of numbers, 2013). He is the author of many controversial best-sellers such as Il Vangelo secondo la Scienza (The Gospel According to Science, 1999), Il matematico impertinente (The Impertinent Mathematician, 2005), Perché non possiamo essere cristiani (Why we cannot be Christians, 2007), Il dizionario della stupidità (The dictionary of the Stupid, 2016) and La democrazia non esiste (Democracy does not exist, 2018).



Date: Wednesday, November 13, 2019

Time: From 6:30 pm To 8:00 pm

Organized by : IIC Melbourne

In collaboration with : IIC Sydney

Entrance : Free

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