EM 1110-2-1100 (Part I)
30 Apr 02
a creative intuition, could be considered the precursor of hydrodynamics, offering ideas and solutions often
more than three centuries ahead of their common acceptance. Some of his descriptions of water movement
are qualitative, but often so correct, that some of his drawings could be usefully included in a modern coastal
hydrodynamics text. The quantitative definition and mathematical formulation of the results were far beyond
the scientific capabilities of the era. Even so, da Vinci was probably the first to describe and test several
experimental techniques now employed in most modern hydraulic laboratories. To visualize the flow field,
he used suspended particles and dyes, glass-walled tanks, and movable bed models, both in water and in air.
The movement from kinematics to dynamics proved impossible until the correct theory of gravitation was
developed, some two centuries latter by Sir Issac Newton (Fasso 1987). The variety of hydro kinematics
problems dealt with in da Vinci's notebooks is so vast that it is not possible to enumerate them all in this brief
review. In the 36 folios (sheets) of the Codex Leicester (1510), he describes most phenomena related to
maritime hydraulics. Richter (1970) provides an English translation of da Vinci's notebooks (Franco 1996).
The scientific ideas of the Italian Renaissance soon moved beyond the confines of that country, to the
European countries north of the Alps.
I-3-5. Military and Civil Engineer Era
After the Renaissance, although great strides were made in the general scientific arena, little improvement
was made beyond the Roman approach to harbor construction. Ships became more sea-worthy and global
navigation became more common. With global navigation came the European discovery of the Americas,
Australia, New Zealand, Indonesia, and other areas of the world, soon followed by migration and
colonization. Trade developed with previously unreachable countries and new colonies. France developed
as the leader in scientific knowledge. The French "G'enie" officers, who, along with their military task, were
also entrusted with civilian public works, are reportedly the direct ancestors of modern civil engineers.
S'ebastien le Prestre de Vauban (1633-1707) was a builder of numerous fortresses and perfected the system
of polygonal and star shaped fortifications. His most eminent public works project was the conversion of
Dunkirk into an impregnable coastal fortress. Apart from the construction of several forts, there were
extensive harbor and coastal works, including the excavation of canals and harbor basins, the construction
of two long jetties flanking the entrance channel, and the erection of storehouses and workshops. A great
lock, a masterpiece of civil engineering, was built at the entrance to the Inner Harbor. Vauban himself
designed and supervised the lock construction. Unfortunately, no more than 30 years after its completion,
the fortress was destroyed as a consequence of the Spanish War of Succession. Vauban's projects provide
a good example of engineering methods and lucidity. They consisted of an explanatory memorandum, several
drawings, and a covering letter. The memorandum had four sections: (1) general background of the scheme;
(2) detailed descriptions of the different parts, with references to the drawings; (3) cost estimates; (4)
features and advantages of the work. It was during this time that the term "Ingenieur" was first used in
France, as a professional title for a scientifically-trained technician in public service.
While France enjoyed a leading position in Europe with regard to exact sciences and their applications to
technical problems, a social and economic revolution later known as the "Industrial Revolution" was taking
place in England. The riding-horse and the packhorse gave way to the coach, the wagon and the barge. Hard
roads and canals replaced the centuries old soft roads and trails, dusty in dry weather and mud-bound during
rains (Straub 1964). Steam power allowed industry to be concentrated in factories that required continuous
supply of raw materials and export of manufactured goods.
In the 18th and 19th centuries, advances in navigation and mathematics, the advent of the steam engine, the
search for new lands and trade routes, the expansion of the British Empire through her colonies, and other
influences, all contributed to the revitalization of sea trade and a renewed interest in port works. As the
volume of shipping grew, more vessels were needed and as the dimensions of the new vessels became larger,
History of Coastal Engineering