The Truth About Perpetual Motion


By Joseph H. Kraus


This Article is from Science & Invention August, 1922


Perhaps more minds have worked upon Perpetual Motion and more money has been spent by inventors and financiers in trying to attain it than on mans� other researches of practical merit. Before discussing the various ideas on the subject of perpetual motion, let us first determine just what the words imply. There are two meanings implied in the term perpetual motion. The literary meaning, which refers to unceasing motion, such as we see in the movements of all heavenly bodies, the tides, waves in the ocean, etc.; and the conventional meaning which is used throughout in this article, namely, self-motive power. Everyone knows that in raising a weight, power is used.

That same weight if it descends will generate power. The inventors of perpetual motion devices therefore reason that a machine could be built which would generate sufficient power to raise the weight; then again use that self-same power to deliver energy, sufficient at least to raise the weight once more. No outside source of power, other than the force of gravity, is permissibly employed in these mechanisms, unless, of course, the energy developed by the machine will generate sufficient power to again drive it, regardless of whether that power be electrical, explosive, or what not.

The fallacy of many of the machines here described can be pointed out, ignoring completely the friction on the bearings or moving parts. The first perpetual motion device is the one submitted to us by Mr. José Martinez. (See Fig. 1.)

The First Prize Problem

In this device four chains of buckets are found, all operated on the same crank shaft. The operation of the device is supposed to he as follows: The endless chain of buckets A, being filled with water on the ascending side, are exactly counterbalanced on their crank shaft B by the adjustable sliding weights D, acting through the levers C. on this crank shaft. Cam K is now permitted to turn, which allows water from the reserve tank H to flow out into buckets L. When one of these buckets is filled, cam K, still revolving, closes the valve J and draws the trigger F forward by the action of the sprockets on the trigger release E. This means that the crank shaft, which was formerly exactly counterbalanced to such a degree that even an ounce of additional weight would cause it to revolve by causing the lever to become unbalanced, is now permitted to move, due to the added weight on one side of it. When the bucket descends to its lowest point, it tips over, the water, pouring into the trough M and descending through the pipe 150 feet long, produces sufficient water head or pressure to turn the water turbine. This turbine in turn not only drives the trigger release E and the cam K, but also delivers excess power, according to the inventor.

The explanation as to why this clear conception will not work is left to the reader. It should be simple and the factor of friction is to be ignored. It may he mentioned that the relation of the weight to the power arm in the levers is changeable, and two buckets on each chain full of water turn over the top of the crank shaft B for one complete revolution of the crank shaft.

For the best explanation of why Fig. 1 will not work, a prize of $50.00 will be paid.

Second Prize Problem�Machine Shown on Our Cover

Fig. 2 is the machine shown on the cover of this magazine, and illustrated again herewith: 1 are weights: 2 are cylinders in which pistons 3 operate, through levers, 4. It will be seen from the diagram that in the position of the machine as shown the piston 3A in cylinder 2A is being forced upward by weight 1A, acting through lever 4A. compressing the mercury in these pistons and forcing it through the tube 5 to cylinder 2B. The piston 3B is being lifted upwardly, forming a partial vacuum on that side of the machine, caused by weight lB descending and acting upon the piston 3B through levers 4B. This action, according to the inventors, Messrs. Larson and Ross, is to continue indefinitely. Why will this machine not work? We offer $50.00 for the best explanation of its failure to operate.

Third Prize Problem�Machine �Actually Patented�

On April 20. 1920. Mr. Wenzel Zeman of Schenectady, N. Y.. actually secured a patent on a power transmission apparatus, which seemed very, very much like perpetual motion. We communicated with Mr. Zeman, and were informed that his system was indeed the only perpetual motion device worthy of consideration. In the patent, the number of which is 1,337,873, mention of a motor is made in the specifications, although in none of the four patent claims is such use of the motor claimed. This mention, according to the attorneys, must be inserted otherwise the patent would be purely a perpetual motion system, and inasmuch as the U. S. Patent Office will not accept patents on perpetual motion schemes, unless a working model is submitted, it is quite necessary to enter driving means for the device. According to Mr. Zeman, however, the power transmission apparatus is perpetual motion. He has not been able, so far, to produce a model that works, and never will be able to do so.

The device is supposed to operate as follows: A long spiral descending track is arranged about two vertical columns; these columns are rotatable. It is evident that the descending spirals are much longer than the ascending inclined tracks. A link chain assists the cars upwardly along the inclined slope to the top of the spiral, where the car is released. Here it meshes with the revolving upright drum, turning it around.

According to the inventor, there will be five or more cars constantly descending, while one ascends. Consequently, the drums as they revolve will lift the weight of the car, which ascends easily, because the combined weight of the five cars moving on the downward course on the spiral is greater than the weight of one car. This action is to take place indefinitely, and power removed from the driving wheel. (See Fig. 3.) The third prize of $50.00 will be paid for the best explanation of the fallacy of this scheme.

Some New Perpetual Motion Systems

The Patent Advice Department of this publication receives hundreds of plans every year on perpetual motion systems, or attempts at perpetual motion. Sometimes it very difficult to explain these; at other times rather simple. From Walter T. Williams, comes a photograph of a perpetual motion device seen in the window of a small shop in Cincinnati. Mr. Williams asks how this device operates. Two magnets arc arranged near the base of a clock, as shown in the accompanying photograph (Fig. 4.)

To the pendulum of the clock, two other magnets are fastened. Wires leading from the permanent magnets, secured to the screws holding them in place, pass into a bottle filled with a peculiar pink colored liquid.

�That at least a mild electric current is generated, is indicated by the fact that the electrolytic action has set tip a deposit at the points where the wires are attached to the magnets�, writes Mr. Williams, who further states that �the inventor is very secretive, and declines to offer a full explanation of the device�.

It is evident that the installation is a fraud on the very face of it. In the first place. two bare wires in a pinkish colored solution, both being of copper, will never generate electric current, sufficient to drive a clock.

In the second place, attaching wires to permanent magnets has absolutely no effect on the magnets. In the third place, the attraction and the repulsion of permanent magnets is generally equal, and, therefore, the pull being the same on both sides of the pendulum, amid there being no shield for magnetic lines of force, the pendulum of a clock, if it depended on the magnetic properties of the iron, would stand stock still.

This magnetic device brings forth a construction of a magnetic motor of unusual interest (Fig. 5). This device was invented in the early part of the 19th century. Two permanent magnets are mounted in a frame, so that they are free to revolve. Pulley- wheels attach to the axles upon which they are mounted, communicate with other pulleys above. Suspended between the two revolving magnets is another magnet, which is free to swing from side to side, and which is connected to the pulley-wheels by means of levers. The action of the device is supposed to be as follows: The tumbler shown at the top of the picture as a round black ball, remains in this position until the perpendicular magnet is attracted to one revolving magnet, being repelled by the other.

At this point, the tumbler falls over, rotates the wheel on top one quarter of a revolution, causing the revolving permanent magnets to swing through an arc of 180 degrees, presenting, therefore, their opposite faces toward the swinging or pendulum magnet, consequently, reversing the direction of attraction. The device is therefore supposed to operate continuously, but it doesn�t!

Mr. James W. Kennedy of Malone, N. Y. has forwarded a quantity of patents issued to him. Amongst these are inventions of perpetual motion devices. The one illustrated here (Fig 6), is one of five different devices.

Its action is as follows. A series of weights, slide on rods, which when sliding downward as shown lift weights, on their hinges. In as much as the weights on the right hand side of the diagram are further from the center than weights on the left side of the diagram, the inventor has assumed that the device will continue to operate perpetually. With perhaps a few very slight changes, it is identical with the device invented by James Ferguson in 1770.

Ferguson at that time stated that he had shown the device to many of his friends, several of whom �built it, and he states that in no case did it work. The fact that this machine will not work is self-evident.

An ingenious device was forwarded by H. D. Dibble of Cardwell, Montana; this is shown in Fig. 7. Mr. Dibble says, "suppose that we have on the end of a cross arm two weights 24 inches apart, each weighing 100 lbs. Rotating these weights at 650 revolutions per minute, let us put 29,040 foot pounds of energy into the device. If this device is now permitted to run as a fly wheel until it comes to rest, we get back exactly 29,040 foot pounds of energy, omitting frictional losses".

Suppose that instead of placing these weights on the end of an arm, we mount them in a frictionless tube. These weights are free to slide in this tube, and are started at the center of the wheel. As the tube is rotated rapidly, centrifugal forces drive the weights toward the end of their stroke, compressing at the same time the air in those cylinders. Catches now lock these weights into place and according to the inventor, we get back exactly 29,040 foot pounds of energy, the same as in the above case. The air in these end spaces is, therefore, compressed to 100 pounds per square inch, and if tapped, will deliver 4382 foot pounds of additional energy.

Let us even assume that the compressed air which we receive from the ends of the cylinders, will deliver 4,382 foot pounds of energy. Where did this energy come from It is very simple to explain.

It was delivered to the fly wheel before the fly wheel had come up to its proper momentum. The motor driving that cylinder exerted power to drive it. It exerted power when the weights were within 2 or 3 inches of the center. Centrifugal force then acting upon the weights, gradually drove them to the outside, but in doing so, the force that was originally given to the fly wheel was not the same as in �case 1.� A greater amount of energy sufficient to drive these weights outward against the air column was necessary. Weights near the center are much easier to rotate than those near the perifery, and it is a good deal more difficult to drive weights toward the perifery against an air column, than if no air column were present.

Consequently, Mr. Dibble�s idea of developing 1,400,000 horsepower per hour for nothing is absurd.

Interesting forms of attempts at perpetual motion are the capilliary systems in which thin tubes are inserted into water and the water rising in these tubes presumably, flows over the top and operates a water wheel (Fig. 8.) If the many inventors who forward these suggestions would only try this system, they will find that the water will not flow out of the top of the tube.

For once and for all let us state that perpetual motion is an impossibility, and that inventors of these devices are either stupidly following false ideas or knowingly attempting to defraud the public.



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