Discoveries of the Leonardo Da Vinci DNA Project

Biologists in the Leonardo Da Vinci DNA Project have shared a trio of fascinating, innovative papers.

Manolito G. Torralba, Claire Kuelbs, Kelvin Jens Moncera, and Karen E. Nelson of the J Craig Venter Institute, La Jolla, California, and Rhonda Roby of the Alameda California County Sheriff’s Office Crime Laboratory, used small, dry polyester swabs to gently collect microbes from centuries-old, Renaissance-style art in a private collector’s home in Florence, Italy. Their findings are published open access in the journal Microbial Ecology, “Characterizing microbial signatures on sculptures and paintings of similar provenance.”

Concurrently available are a pair of papers by David Thaler, of the University of Basel and a guest investigator in the Program for the Human Environment.  David’s papers are

“Evidence for extraordinary visual acuity in Leonardo’s comment on a dragonfly,” and “Sfumato in Leonardo’s portraits: Optical and psychophysical mechanisms.”

Thaler’s papers form part of a collection now in press as a book: Actes du Colloque International d’Amboise: Leonardo de Vinci, Anatomiste. Pionnier de l’Anatomie comparée, de la Biomécanique, de la Bionique et de la Physiognomonie, edited by Henry de Lumley, CNRS editions, Paris.

Two major newswires, Agence France Presse and Agencia EFE, each did separate stories:

Manny Torralba et al.
AFP Microbes Could ‘help Save Old Masters’ And Catch Forgers

Agencia EFE Identificar microbios en obras de arte abre la puerta a una mejor preservación

David Thaler

AFP  Leonardo da Vinci’s ‘quick eye’ may be key to Mona Lisa’s magnetism  

German version Forscher: «Schnelles Auge» half da Vinci beim Zeichnen und Malen

https://www.eluniversal.com.mx/cultura/artes-visuales/la-rapidez-visual-de-da-vinci-explicaria-la-sonrisa-de-la-mona-lisa

Agencia EFE La rapidez visual “súper desarrollada” de Da Vinci podría explicar la sonrisa de la Mona Lisa

LiveScience, United States Did Leonardo da Vinci’s ‘quick eye’ help him capture Mona Lisa’s fleeting smile?

By Leonardo Da Vinci DNA Project (summary)

Genetic detectives ID microbes suspected of slowly ruining humanity’s treasures

COVID & The World Interview with Jesse Ausubel

The website Human Progress launches a new video series called The Covid Tonic. The series features conversations between renowned scholars and editor, Marian L. Tupy. The interviews focus on the global impact of COVID-19 and the continued importance of rational optimism. Episode 1 features the environmental scientist Jesse Ausubel, a Human Progress Board Member and Director of the Program for the Human Environment at The Rockefeller University in New York City. 


Watch the full video here

Popular versions of our work

During the past couple of years several authors have made good use of our work in their books. These include:

The Power of Bad: How the Negativity Effect Rules Us and How We Can Rule It – December 31, 2019 – by John Tierney and Roy F. Baumeister

Fewer, Richer, Greener: Prospects for Humanity in an Age of Abundance

by Laurence B. Siegel | Dec 5, 2019

More from Less: The Surprising Story of How We Learned to Prosper Using Fewer Resources?and What Happens Next – October 8, 2019

by Andrew McAfee

Enlightenment Now: The Case for Reason, Science, Humanism, and Progress – January 15, 2019 by Steven Pinker

It’s Better Than It Looks: Reasons for Optimism in an Age of Fear – March 5, 2019 by Gregg Easterbrook

Andrew W. Marshall Foundation begins work

The foundation promoting the strategic thinking of the late Andrew W. Marshall has begun its work to foster innovative thinking about national security. Cesare Marchetti and Jesse Ausubel prepared their study on the quantitative dynamics of human empires as the request of Mr. Marshall.

We also post Jesse’s remembrance of Andy, “Andrew Marshall and Classics,” which will appear in the forthcoming volume about Andy edited by Andrew May.