Leonardo da Vinci's tree and the law of channel widths - Combining quantitative geomorphology and art in education
Education - precollege, History of geology, History of science, Hydrogeology and hydrology, Surficial geology - geomorphology
Journal of Geoscience Education
About 1500, Leonardo da Vinci sketched a tree with arcs through each yearly growth of branches. In his mirror-image handwriting, and including an equation, he noted that the sum of the thicknesses of all the new branches produced each year will equal the sum of the thicknesses of branches from each previous year, down to and including the trunk. He wrote further that the same relation exists between a main watercourse and its branches. Leonardo's tree and notes clearly illustrate the principle of stream ordering in drainage-network composition. Indeed, Leonardo combined network morphometry and hydraulic geometry, which together have thus far been inadequately investigated. Leonardo's tree drawing marks the discovery of quantitative drainage-network analysis, which was rediscovered by R.E. Horton more than four hundred years later. We use it to combine science and art in K-12 education.
Original Publication Date
DOI of published version
Shepherd, Russell G. and Ellis, Beverly N., "Leonardo da Vinci's tree and the law of channel widths - Combining quantitative geomorphology and art in education" (1997). Faculty Publications. 4035.