MOTION: AN ANCIENT MYSTERY SOLVED? (ON JOHANN BESSLER)
Book Review by Hal Fox
MOTION: AN ANCIENT MYSTERY SOLVED?
Book Review by Hal Fox
John Collins, Motion: An Ancient Mystery Solved?, published and printed by Permo Publications, PO Box 2001, Leamington, Spa, CV32 6YQ, United Kingdom, c 1997, illus. index, 240 pages, œ11.95 pounds sterling.
This book is an excellent historical account coupled with a great mystery, augmented with possible after-death coded secrets. The book is about the life and work of Johann Bessler who built and demonstrated several versions of his Perpetual Motion Machine from 1712 and on.
This book is a carefully researched and documented record of a man and an unusual machine. Many people, including some famous scientists, saw his machine operating. In one of the demonstrations the machine was operated continually for several weeks. However, due to the jealousy of a contemporary, the machine was also declared to be a fake. However, the author shows that the published explanation of how the machine was faked does not make sense.
Johann Bessler studied various trades and crafts, including the making of pipe organs. His great interest in life was the building of a machine that would provide power without horses or fuel. Remember this was in the early days of the steam engine. When he succeeded in making his machine, he asked for a large amount of funds (for those days) but offered his own head to be forfeit if the machine did not perform as promised.
Apparently, the only person who really was shown the machine, was the leader of a small country and befriended the inventor for many years but never revealed the inventor's secret. The story of the inventor, his efforts, his destruction and rebuilding of the machine, and his final testimony would make a good motion picture.
One of the investigators of Bessler's Wheel wrote the following paragraph in his lengthy report to Sir Isaac Newton:
"You see, Sir, I have not had any absolute demonstration, that the principle of motion which is certainly within the wheel, is really a principle of perpetual motion; but at the same time it cannot be denied me that I have received very good reasons to think so, which is a strong presumption in favour of the inventor. The Landgrave made Orffyreus [alternate name for Bessler] a very handsome present to be let into the secret of the machine, under an engagement nevertheless not to discover, or to make any use of it, before the inventor has procured a sufficient reward for making his discovery public. I am very well aware, Sir, that in England only, the arts and sciences are so generally cultivated as to afford any prospect of the inventor's acquiring a reward adequate to this discovery. He requires nothing more than the assurance of having it [money] paid him when his machine is found to be really a perpetual motion; and as he desires nothing more than this assurance till the construction of the machine be displayed and fairly examine, it cannot [be] expected he should submit to such an examination before such an assurance be given him."
The real suspense of the story is provided in the final chapters when the publications left by the author are evaluated to determine if there is a code, a final legacy, that reveals how the machine could use gravity to produce power. The author is convincing both that Johann Bessler really did have a working machine and second that he did, very likely, leave his secret in his final writing which were published. If you are good at breaking codes, maybe you can be the one to restore the knowledge of this wonder machine to the world.
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Sep. 8, 1998.