A man ahead of his time, Leonardo da Vinci is considered by many one of the greatest minds the world has ever known. His influence has not just been limited to art, but has touched the worlds of engineering, medicine, military, and even today's pop-culture.
Da Vinci's designs are credited as the first versions of or as the inspiration for many of our modern engineering and mechanical marvels. For instance, da Vinci designed a bridge to span between the Bosporus and Green Horn that couldn't even be built by modern technology until 500 years later; it was built (on a smaller scale) in 2001--using his designs! He made the first designs for the tank, the helicopter, the parachute, sometimes hundreds of years before we were even able to actually build them. Today, many scientists still consult his ideas and designs when developing new machines, so who knows how many more of his inventions we'll see in the world.
Da Vinci was very interested in the human body, not just as composition for his world-famous artwork, but also from a scientific perspective. Da Vinci's sketches of the human anatomy and his own work in human dissection contributed greatly to doctors' understanding of the human body.
Estimates say that over 6 million people visit the Louvre to see the Mona Lisa--da Vinci's most famous artwork--each year! His artistic style influenced many of the greatest artists the world has known--Raphael, Michelangelo, etc.
Homages and references to da Vinci can be seen on t-shirts, book covers, and even the Euro. He is referenced in numerous pop-culture sources such as The Da Vinci Code, Assassin's Creed Ezio Saga, Da Vinci's Demons, and even The Ninja Turtles (Leonardo, anyone?). The fact that we are still obsessed with whether or not the Mona Lisa is smiling and that we still consult his sketches and designs over 550 years later is a testament to his genius and influence.