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Perpetual Motion?

The 1st Law

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Eyewitness Accounts
Source: Perpetual Motion: An Ancient Mystery Solved?, John Collins, Permo Publications, 1997.

Gottfried Teuber (1656 - 1731)
Court Cleric and Mathematician
Viewed the one-directional wheel in 1714

"It is a hollow wheel of wood, ten feet in diameter and six inches thick. It is covered by thin wooden planks to hide the internal mechanism. The axle is also wooden, and extends one foot beyond the wheel. It has three teeth which are for moving three wooden stamps similar to those used in pounding mills. The stamps are quite heavy and are lifted and dropped continuously. The iron journals move in open bearings so as to show that neither deception nor an external energy supply are necessary to the machine's motion.

Having made an appointment with the inventor, we approached the machine and noticed that it was secured by a cord to the rim of the wheel. Upon the cord being released, the machine began to rotate with great force and noise, maintaining its speed without increasing or decreasing it for some considerable time. To stop the wheel and retie the cord required tremendous effort."

Gottfried Leibniz (1646 - 1716)
Mathematician and Philosopher
Viewed the one-directional wheel in 1714

"Orffyreus is a friend of mine, and he allowed me, some time ago, to carry out some experiments with his machine. It ran continuously for two hours in my presence and demonstrated considerable power. There is something extraordinary about Orffyreus' machine and we must not ignore it, because it could bring tremendous benefits."

Johann Christian Wolff (1679 - 1754)
Professor and Philosopher
Viewed the bi-directional wheel in 1715

"When Orffyreus exhibited the extraordinary machine which he had built, to refute the malicious rumors being spread that it is fraudulent, I was deliberately present... We have demonstrated that in reality Orffyreus' wheel is far removed from any deception. The investigation was conducted in the presence of representatives of the Court of the Duke and other guests. When the machine was ready to rotate, all adjacent rooms were opened and the bearings were completely uncovered. To prevent anyone accidentally seeing the internal structure of the machine, he covered it. Whilst he did this, he did not disguise the fact that the mechanism is moved by weights. Several such weights, wrapped in his handkerchief, he let us weigh in our hands to estimate their weight. They were judged to be about four pounds each, and their shape was definitely cylindrical.

I conclude, not only from this but also from other circumstantial evidence, that the weights are attached to some moveable or elastic arms on the periphery of the wheel. During rotation, one can clearly hear the weights hitting against the wooden boards. I was able to observe these boards through a slit. They are slightly warped. When he put the wheel onto another support and reinstalled the weights in their previous positions, he pushed down on an iron spring that gave a loud noise as it expanded upwards."

Joseph Fischer (1693 - 1742)
Draftsman, Illustrator, and Architect to the Emperor of Austria
Viewed the bi-directional wheel in 1721

"Although I am very incredulous about things which I do not understand, yet I must assure you that I am quite persuaded that there exists no reason why this machine should not have the name Perpetual Motion given to it; and I have good reason to believe that it is one, according to the experiments which I have been allowed to make... It is a wheel which is twelve feet in diameter, covered with an oil-cloth. At every turn of the wheel can be heard the sound of about eight weights, which fall gently on the side toward which the wheel turns. This wheel turns with astonishing rapidity, making twenty-six turns a minute when the axle works unrestricted. Having tied a cord to the axle, to turn an Archimedean screw for raising water, the wheel than made twenty turns a minute. This I noted several times by my watch, and I always found the same regularity. I then stopped the wheel with much difficulty, holding on to the circumference with both hands. An attempt to stop it suddenly would raise a man from the ground.

Having stopped it in this manner, it remained stationary... I commenced the movement very gently to see if it would of itself regain its former rapidity, which I doubted, believing that it only preserved for a long time the impetus of the impulse first communicated. But to my astonishment I observed that the rapidity of the wheel augmented little by little until it had made two turns, and then it regained its former speed, until I observed by my watch that it made the same twenty-six turns a minute as before, when acting freely; and twenty turns when it was attached to the screw to raise water.

This experiment, showing the rapidity of the wheel augmenting from the very slow movement I gave it, to an extraordinary rapid one, convinces me more than if I had seen the wheel moving for a whole year, which would not have persuaded me that it was a perpetual motion, because it might have diminished little by little until it ceased all together; but to gain speed instead of losing it, and to increase that speed to a certain degree in spite of the resistance of air and the friction of the axle, I do not see how anyone can doubt the truth of this action. I then turned it in the opposite direction, and the wheel produced the same effect. I examined the bearings of the wheel to see if there was any hidden artifice; but was unable to see anything more than the two small bearings on which the wheel is suspended at its center."

Willem Jacob 'sGravesande (1688 - 1742)
Attorney, Mathematician, and Professor
Viewed the bi-directional wheel in 1721

In a letter to Sir Isaac Newton:

"You will not be displeased, I presume, with a circumstantial account of my examination. I send you therefore the details of the most particular circumstances observable on an exterior view of the machine, concerning which the sentiments of most people are greatly divided, whilst almost all the mathematicians are against it. The majority maintain the impossibility of a perpetual motion, and hence it is, that so little attention has been paid to Orffyreus and his invention.

For my part, however, though I must confess my abilities inferior to those of many who have given demonstration of this impossibility - yet I will communicate to you the real sentiments with which I entered on examination of this machine... It seemed to me that Leibniz was wrong in laying down the impossibility of perpetual motion as an axiom. Notwithstanding this persuasion, however, I was far from believing Orffyreus capable of making such a discovery, looking upon it as an invention not to be made (if ever) till after many other previous discoveries. But since I have examined the machine, it is impossible for me to sufficiently express my astonishment.

The inventor has a turn for mechanics, but is far from being a profound mathematician, and yet his machine has something in it prodigiously astounding, even though it should be an imposition. The following is a description of the external parts of the machine, the inside of which the inventor will not allowed to be seen, lest anyone should rob him of his secret.

It is a hollow wheel or kind of drum, about fourteen inches thick and twelve feet in diameter; being very light as it consists of several cross pieces of wood framed together; the whole of which is covered over with canvas, to prevent the inside from being seen. Through the center of this wheel or drum runs an axle of about six inches in diameter, terminated at both ends by iron bearings of about three-quarters of an inch in diameter upon which the whole thing turns. I have examined these bearings and am firmly persuaded that nothing from without the wheel in the least contributes to its motion.

When I turned it but gently, it always stood still as soon as I took my hand away. But when I gave it any tolerable degree of velocity, I was always obliged to stop it again by force; for when I let it go it acquired in two or three turns its greatest velocity, after which it revolved at twenty-five or twenty-six times a minute.

This motion it preserved some time ago for two months, in an apartment of the castle; the doors and windows of which were locked and sealed, so that there was no possibility of fraud."

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