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Perpetual Motion?

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

Examination at Gera
(October 9th, 1712)
Soon after Bessler demonstrated his first wheel to the public, some suggested that he used a fraudulent, hidden means to power the machine. To counter the allegations, Bessler visited the court of the ruling monarch of the region, the Count and Countess of Reuss, Germany, to request an official test.

The request was accepted. The examination was performed by the Count and Countess themselves, along with many other doctors, professors, and various local noblemen and dignitaries.

The certificate does not describe the specific tests performed, or the details of the investigation. It relies largely on the belief that the examiners were men of impeccable reputation and therefore beyond criticism.

A total of 14 signatures attest to the following statements:

The long sought after and desired Perpetuum Mobile has been invented and constructed recently, through God's grace, here in Gera. It is a unique and highly useful machine that rotates without any weights, wind, water, or spring mechanisms. It has its own Motus Perpetuum that not only maintains, moves, and turns it around continuously, but it is also able to easily drive other machines for which a great force is necessary, such as waterworks and mills...

The machine was first constructed by Mr. Orffyreus here and put into its remarkable speedy rotation on the sixth of June in this current year 1712.

It was shown several times to Her Grace the Dowager-Countess and His grace the Count in person; and also, by their gracious consent and agreement, everything was shown and made available to us. Now we have undersigned this testimonial in confirmation of the above, and to attest to the fame and honor of the inventor, and for his special protection, benefit, recommendation, and promotion... signed and sealed by our own hands at Gera, 9th October, 1712.

Examination at Merseberg
(October 31, 1715)
Plagued by continuing rumors and speculation of fraud, Bessler approached Moritz-Wilhelm, the Duke of Zeitz, with a request to sponsor the second official test of his machine. In particular, Bessler wanted to address allegations that the machine was driven through a hidden mechanism in the bearings. To invalidate the accusations, the test was specifically to include a translocation of the wheel from one set of supports to another. The certificate states:

The inventor first put in motion his six ells (~11 feet) in diameter and one foot thick machine which was still resting on the same wooden support upon which it had previously been mounted. It was stopped and restarted, turned left and right as many times as was requested by the commissaries or the spectators. The machine was started by a very light push with just two fingers and accelerated as one of the weights, hidden inside, began to fall. Gradually, within about one revolution, the machine acquired a powerful and even rotation, which continued until it was forcefully brought to a stop again; the machine preserved the same rapid motion when lifting a box filled with six whole bricks weighing together about 70 pounds. The weight was lifted by means of a rope conducted through a window by means of a pulley. The box was lifted as many times as was requested.

Furthermore the inventor, Orffyreus, in the presence of all, lifted the machine described above from its original wooden support. The timber posts were carefully examined from both top and bottom, as well as in the middle, particularly where a small cut was noticed. The same careful examination was devoted to the trunnions, the shaft, and to the bearings. During the inspection, not the slightest indication of imposture or deceit was found, rather everything was found to be right, complete, and without fault.

As further proof of its internal or inherent motive power, the machine was translocated to another support in such a way that the trunnions on both sides of the axle were laid uncovered in the open sockets. The whole assembly could see over and under, and both sides of the machine; and all present were invited to inspect the bearings, but no holes were found. All present examined them with their eyes, but no sign of fraud was seen. It was possible to translocate the machine and turn it left and right as many times as was asked by the respectable Commission. The machine regained its strong, fast, even rotation each time. The movement was accompanied by quite a loud noise that lasted until the machine was brought to a forced stop. Thus nothing suspicious happened.

Finally, it should be noted that right at the start, before the machine was subject to any testing, all rooms above, below, and on either side were examined by the Commission. It was also verified that the stamps were not hollow, and no indication of any mechanism moved by a cord was found.

All that has been written above is the truth, and has been acknowledged by signatures in our own hand without any reservations... signed at Merseberg, 31st October, year 1715.

The certificate was signed by 12 prominent dignitaries, chosen for their intellectual qualifications and status within the community.

Other documented descriptions of the Merseberg test include:

"[Bessler] overwhelmingly demonstrated that his perpetual motion machine had no hidden cord as was falsely alleged."
- Johann Weise, District Magistrate

"I saw with my own eyes... and as a result everything that has been written against [Bessler] is considered preposterous."
- Christoph Buchta, Court Counselor

"We have demonstrated that in reality Bessler's wheel is far removed from any deception."
-Christian Wolff, mathematics professor and member of the Royal Society of London

Examination at Kassel
(November 10, 1717 - January 4, 1718)

The examination at Castle Weissenstein in Kassel was the final and most rigorous official test of the wheel.

To refute allegations that the machine was driven by a hidden external means, Prince Karl ordered the wheel transferred to a large hall in the middle of the castle. The room, having been designed for defense, had stone walls four feet thick and one small entry door, making it easy to seal and guard during the test. To counter accusations that a man or an animal drove the machine from inside, the test period was set for a fortnight in duration.

First the wheel and bearings were closely inspected by the eminently respectable panel of investigators assembled by the Prince. The examinations were conducted for two days. The wheel and framework were pushed to different parts of the room, the wheel was stopped and started, and the entire apparatus was meticulously inspected for any sign of fraud. None was found.

On November 12, the machine was put into motion and the door was locked and officially sealed with wax. Two military guards were posted outside the entrance. On November 26, the investigators verified that the seals were undisturbed and entered the room to find the wheel spinning at 26 revolutions per minute. They stopped the wheel, inspected it, and restarted it. The room was again locked, sealed, and guarded. On January 4th, 1718, 54 days after the start of the test, the examiners suddenly requested access to the room. The seals showed no signs of tampering. Upon entering the room, the group found the wheel continuing as before in its uninterrupted motion. Nothing suspicious was found.

Other documented descriptions of the Kassel test include:

"[I] am firmly persuaded that nothing from without the wheel in the least contributes to its motion."
- Willem 'sGravesande, University of Holland professor

"I am quite persuaded that there exists no reason that this machine should not have the name Perpetual Motion given to it; and I have good reason to believe that it is one."
- Baron Fischer, Court Architect of the Austrian Emperor

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