Walter Isaacson with Neil deGrasse Tyson on Leonardo da Vinci


Join the New York Times bestselling, award-winning author Walter Isaacson for an electrifying conversation with astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson, eminent Frederick P. Rose Director of the Hayden Planetarium, about the subject of Isaacson’s highly anticipated new book, Leonardo da Vinci.

Based on thousands of pages from Leonardo’s astonishing notebooks and new discoveries about his life and work, Walter Isaacson shows how Leonardo’s genius was based on skills we can improve in ourselves, such as passionate curiosity, careful observation, and an imagination so playful that it flirted with fantasy.

Leonardo produced the two most famous paintings in history, The Last Supper and the Mona Lisa. But, Isaacson reveals, in Leonardo’s own mind he was just as much a man of science and technology. With a passion that sometimes became obsessive, he pursued innovative studies of anatomy, fossils, birds, the heart, flying machines, botany, geology and weaponry.

His creativity, like that of other great innovators, came from having wide-ranging passions. He peeled flesh off the faces of cadavers, drew the muscles that move the lips and then painted history’s most memorable smile. He explored the math of optics, showed how light rays strike the cornea and produced illusions of changing perspectives in The Last Supper.

Leonardo’s delight at combining diverse passions remains the ultimate recipe for creativity. So, too, does his ease at being a bit of a misfit: illegitimate, gay, vegetarian, left-handed, easily distracted and at times heretical. His life should remind us of the importance of instilling, both in ourselves and our children, not just received knowledge but a willingness to question it — to be imaginative and, like talented misfits and rebels in any era, to think different.

This event was endowed by Nicki Newman Tanner and Harold Tanner in memory of their father, Albert Hardy Newman.