The 1st Law
Nature Trumps Science
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
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
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."