Craft & Design
Perpetuum Mobile makes fountains run for cover

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A machine called “Perpetuum Mobile” by Wessel di Wesseli which claims to run with no electricity and by gravity + water power. I’m still a bit dumbfounded!

Dreams and free energy machines – Link

[Ed. note – post up in the comments if you’ve seen/heard about this, might make a fun (re)make]

52 thoughts on “Perpetuum Mobile makes fountains run for cover

  1. What’s the deal with all of the free energy/nonsense science articles?

    This needs to stop, isn’t this supposed to be about making things that work?

  2. I agree with screaminscott. It is exceedingly easy to make images of perpetual motion machines. That it is impossible to construct one is the fault of those infernal laws of physics.

  3. part of the fun about these machines is we know that they don’t work – building them and showing that they don’t work (like we did in MAKE 09) is a lot of fun too.

  4. The problem with this design is that it will take a lot of energy to expand and contract the bladders. In fact it takes exactly the same energy to sink and expand those bladders as you get from the rising ones.

  5. I don’t read Dutch, but is the concept that the volume of the chambers change and therefore the buoyancy of each changes as they move along the track?

    For the all the complicated math and drawings on the page, this idea, like the other shifting weight wheel perpetual motion machines boils down to a simple calculation – at any point in the motion, the forces sum up to a static equilibrium. The force on any element will change with time (if the apparatus is moving) and that is where these people delude themselves, but the force on one element is exactly counterbalanced by the elements opposite. Essentially if you solve all of the forces simultaneously, time factors out – no dynamics – no motion.

    If you hooked a motor up to it and drove it on those varying width tracks, you could make a perpetual accordian though – there’s a project for us!

  6. As long as they aren’t getting government funding or cheating people out of their money, either because they are self-deluded or they are crooks, then I think crack-pot inventors should feel free to try impossible things. I don’t for a minute believe that they will achieve the mathematically and/or physically impossible, but by trying crazy stuff, they might accidentally discover some cool by serendipity.

    TANSTAAFL is always true, but so is “The Universe is not only stranger than you can possibly imagine; it is also stranger than you can possibly imagine.”

  7. A device is not neccessarily nonsense just one cannot understand it.

    It looks relatively simple to me. Although the device uses no electricity to operate, I would not consider it “free-energy.” It appears that if this device were located in the sun, it could utilize thermal-convection to power itself. While natural convection would create currents in the water, the “buckets” would be propelled by the current. At the top of the fountain, the water would be lifted up out of the tank, and poored back into the tank (gravity) and onto the “bucket” beneath – further adding to the propultion of the fountain.

  8. This thing kind of reminds me of something in one of “The Boy Mechanic” volumes that Lindsay Publications puts out. You have a little wheel that hangs loose on an axle and is held in place by three pieces of cotton string tied to said axle. The whole mess sits about 1/4 submerged in a bowl of water. The idea is that the strings expand and contract when they get wet and as they dry so the wheel is pushed off ballance. When too much of the water has evaporated, show’s over.

    I have to believe that making the table top version and getting it to work is one of those much easier said than done activities and I don’t think it would scale well or produce anything like a useful amount of energy. But it might be a cool kinetic sculpture if you could get it to work.

  9. Not sure if someone is counting votes or not, but put me down as someone who it NOT interested in things that don’t (and will never) work.

  10. Yeah, and I’ve also heard the phrase “The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results.”

    How many times does someone new have to reinvent the same machine?

    Free energy isn’t even a good thing. The use of energy — even free energy — produces heat. You can’t get rid of heat; you can only move it around. If energy were free, we’d use a lot more of it. We’d roast ourselves.

  11. Actually, I should clarify: when I say that ‘free’ energy isn’t a good thing, I mean energy from yet another untapped source. Things utilizing solar energy (photovoltaic, hydroelectric, wind, et cetera) don’t count, since using it isn’t adding to the system.

  12. I there with the not really interested in quack science. “laws are made to be broken”: there are laws that we put in place and there are laws that state the way things are. I choose to obey the law that says that I should not cross against the light, I can choose not to. I don’t really have a choice about gravity, things fall down (unless you provide the energy to overcome the acceleration). So if I choose to ignore the law that says “don’t step out in front of the speeding truck, that is up to me, but the one that says the truck’s momentum is much greater than mine and therefore I will be governed by that (and likely gravity when thrown through the air) I don’t really have the choice of ignoring/breaking.

    Perpetual motion is nonsense, always will be. you cannot get more energy out of a system that you put in.

    I build enough things that don’t work that should, let alone building stuff that shouldn’t work in the first place, sounds like a waste of resources.

  13. Maybe I should clarify my comment.

    Guys who sit in their basement and try to build perpetual motions machines based on half-baked ideas, sketchy plans, or old drawings found on the Internet are morons. As I said, TANSTAAFL is a law that isn’t likely to be broken and over-unity means your math or your measurements are wrong.

    That doesn’t mean that tinkering around with electromagnets, feedback amplifiers, and odd mechanical devices is always a bad thing. Someone might discover something new or interesting by going against the grain, but the experimenter needs to have at least a modicum of understanding of basic principles, be willing to do a little research, and, above all, be willing to let an idea go if really basic flaws are pointed out by many objective reviewers.

    Does that make sense?

  14. As long as they’re not trying to scam anyone (other than themselves), then I say let them go ahead and build it. Sometimes aiming for the impossible leads to interesting realities. There can be satisfaction gained from building something that won’t work when you finally understand WHY it won’t work. Didn’t anyone read Make #9?

  15. I read Make #9, and disliked it. Building something that doesn’t work might be fun, but proves nothing; you might have built it wrong. Things that people have made that don’t work may at least look cool. Things that people haven’t made and that wouldn’t work seem a poor topic for a publication about making things.

  16. One of the things in MAKE #9 that I did like was the observation that not only does the hammer based “overballanced wheel” not work, it doesn’t work worse (or maybe doesn’t work better) than a flywheel of the same weight.

    Also this post is totally worthwhile because, prior to this, I was not familiar with David E. H. Jones admitedly fake but highly artistic “perpetual motion machines”. I especially enjoyed the fact that when he asks people who should know better to tell him how he’s faking it they give him answers that are in violation of the laws of physics.

  17. I actually like this quite a bit. I know full well that it wouldn’t work, and I understand why. The design, however, is still really clever and has a good chance of inspiring something that /does/ do something.

  18. Make #9 was the lowest on my list. If I had seen that issue first, I likely would have thought not worth purchasing or subscribing. But, that is only my opinion. I do subscribe, and will continue even if there is the occational issue that seems of lesser interest. But if Omni is the model, where it started out as science and science fiction and quickly was giving astrological advice and UFO sightings more than science it would be time to move on.

    As said before by myself and others, why build something that you know has no chance of working when the stuff I usually build only has a slightly better chance where the physics/chemisty/engineering principles are sound (though the maker might be off)

  19. I don’t have any issue at all with somebody designing a clever linkage, or an interesting sculpture. Heck, even a trick gizmo that has a hidden power source can be fun.

    I do, however, have a serious issue with people who claim to have invented perpetual motion machines. I take a very skeptical “put up or shut up” attitude. Either you give enough information for your results to be independently validated, or I dismiss you as a crackpot.

    Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence. And the laws of thermodynamics were not “made” to be broken. They were observed as fundamental aspects of the way the universe works.

    Could our understanding someday change? Sure! But none of these perpetual motion windbags have gotten us any closer to that goal…they are merely trying to line their own pockets with the ignorance of others. That’s not a Maker ethic…that’s fraud.

  20. Philip –
    The guy says he’s been “working” on this for 45 years, and apparently hasn’t considered it worth his time to actually build a prototype, so I’m dubious it’s worth anyone elses.
    Personally, I’m not interested in things that don’t exist that I already don’t believe work, whether to debunk them or not.
    I’m more interested in hearing about things that do work, and people who make things that work; And I’ll note that there have been a good half dozen such posts here since this one, so maybe I’ll quit my whining :)

  21. It seems to me that it will take a great deal of energy to expand the pod when it is at the bottom of the tank. This may be where where the system breaks down. Quick calculation (with rough estimates based on the photo machine with the building) show that it takes about 1 million Joules, to expand one pod. Or about the same amount of energy to lift 1000 pounds 700 feet up.(This is on the low side, it will probably take much much more energy. Feel free to correct me I haven’t done this type of math in a while:)

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