Perpetual Motion Chronology

A time table of important events, inventions and discoveries around the history of perpetual motion.

 500 v.Chr.  The greek philosopher Anaxagoras states "nothing can emerge from nothing and nothing can be annihilated."
 ca.300 v.Chr.  Aristoteles lays the foundation of the horror vacui and thus (unintendedly) prepares scientific stagnation and ignorance for 2000 years.
ca. 1100  The indian astronomer and mathematician Bhaskara describes a perpetuum mobile made of a wheel with containers attached to its rim, partly filled with mercury.
ca.1250  Thoma Aquino proves the Pope's infallability and thus finishes the effort to make the aristotelian philosophy a dogma.
1235  The french master-builder Villard de Honnecourt describes an overbalanced wheel with 7 hammers attached to its rim.
1269  Pierre de Maricourt describes a hypothetic perpetual motion machine which uses the powers of the magnetic lodestone.
ca.1325  William Ockam states the principle: Entia non sunt multiplicanda praeter necessitatem "We don't make more hypothesis and assumptions than absolutely necessary." This principle became known as Ockham's Razor.
ca.1480  Francisco di Giorgio describes in his Trattato I & II several dry water mills, also being called recirculation mills.
ca.1490(?)  Leonardo da Vinci draws a plan of the momentums acting on a classical overbalanced whell und thus proves the impossibility of the arabian perpetual motion machine.
1480  Leonardo da Vinci makes several sketches of PMMs bases on archimedian screws and overbalanced wheels. At the same time, he notes that the seeker for perpetual motion shall join the gold-makers.
1562  The Jesuit Johannes Taisnierus (Johann Tausner) describes a magnetic PMM which consits of a ramp, a magnetic lodestone and an iron ball.
1586  Simon Stevin proves by the aid of a diagram the impossibility of a PMM based on a ramp and an endless chain.
ca.1595  Galileo Galilei opposes the predominant aristotelian dogma and introduces a combination of mathematical theory and experiment as scientific method.
1601  H. Holtzhamer describes in his manuscript many versions of perpetual motiuon machines.
1607  In his book Novo teatro di machine et edificii Vittorio Zonca depicts a PMM based on the siphon principle. Supposedly he borrowed the idea from Giovanni Battista della Porta.
1608  Ramelli describes a water wheel which contains an inner arabian wheel to amplify the power. Ramelli adds in the description that he was urged to do so. Obviously he thought this was a bad idea.
1610  The polish Jesuit Stanislaus Solski invents a complicated oscillating PMM to lift water.
1616  The Jesuit Christoph Scheiner suggests a Gnomon Scheineriani for which he earns derisive comments only.
1618  The english physicist and mystic Robert Fludd describes a recirculation mill based on an archimedian screw and a water wheel.
1619  Johannes Kepler publishes in his book Harmonices Mundi the three famous laws about the motion of planets.
1638  William Somerset, Marquis of Worcester, constructs a large PMM and demonstrates it to the english court.
ca.1640  René Descartes, mathematician and philosopher states that "the sum of all products of the quantitas materiae and their speed is constant in the world." The separation between power and energy still is not clear and leads to a scholarly dispute.
1642  The teacher and philosopher Johann Amos Comenius publishes a theory about the possibility of perpetual motion.
1645  A. Martin invents a Horarium hydraulicum, a water clock being driven by capillary action.
1648  John Wilkins describes in his book Mathematical Magick or the wonders that may be performed by mechanical geometry Taisnierus' magnetical perpetuum mobile and gives an explanation why it won't work.
ca.1660  Christian Huygens describes the forces which act on rotating masses and formulates the laws about centifugal force and the conservation of angular momentum.
1660  Johann Joachim Becher invents a complex perpetual machine that shall power a clockwork. After ten years' work he comes to the conclusion that he failed.
1661  G. A. Böckler depicts in his Theatrum machinarum novum several types of perpetual dry water-mills (recirculation mills).
1664  The Jesuit Caspar Schott publishes in his Technica Curiosa numerous illustrations of perpetua mobilia.
ca.1630  The Jesuit Christoph Grünberger invents a perpetuum mobile, which utilizes spirals which were calculated in a complex way.
ca.1680  Isaac Newton formulates the gravitational law and can derive the formulae for the motion of planets in a concludent way.
1685  The scientist Robert Boyle describes a chemical liquid PMM(?) in an article in den Philosophical transactions, vol.15 Nr.176, p.1188. Saw Boyle an oscillating chemical reaction?
1685  Denis Papin suggests a hydraulic PMM which violates the law of the hydrostatic equilibrum in connected tubes.
1692  Abbé Jean d'Hautefeuille describes a hydraulic-chemical PMM based on two different liquids.
1686  In his treatise Brevis demonstratio erroris memorabilis Cartesii ("a short demonstration of Cartesius' remarkable errors") Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz formulates the definition of potential energy as product of force by height.
1712  Johann Ernst Elias Bessler AKA Orffyreus displays his first perpetually moving machine at Gera/Germany.
1717  Bessler succeeds in making business with his PMM.
1718  Johann Georg Borlach writes fly-leaves entitled Sophistische Strickzüge in order to discredit Bessler's wheel
1719  Bessler publishes his book Perpetuum Mobile Triumphans.
1721  Willem Jacobus 's Gravesande inspects Bessler's machines and writes an expert's statement about it. Later he sends a letter containing a detailled description to Isaac Newton. It seems that the letter had never been answered.
1727  Bessler is uncovered as fraud by the confession of a maid-servant.
1742  Johann Bernoulli sen. describes in his Opera omniaa two-liquid PMM based on osmosis.
1750  Pierre Jaquet Droz invents a bi-metal winding mechanism for a perpetual clockwork. The mechanism is moved by changes of the ambient temperature.
1751  Louis Antoine LePlat invents a clock whose mechanism is driven by air draught.
1763  Andrew Doswill makes the concept of a magnetic PMM which consists of an iron rotor inside a permanent magnetic field.
1770  James Ferguson constructs a PMM, just to prove its impossibility. By this he wanted to rid himself of the inventors who frequently suggested him their designs.
1775  The French academy of sciences publishes in their annals a text starting with the words "La construction d'un mouvement perpetuel est absolument impossible". From this time on, inspection of machines which are said to be perpetual is refused.
1775  The Englishman Coxe makes a perpetual barometric clock, which needs 200kg mercury for its operation.
1800  Johann Friedrich Heinle constructs a PMM which he planned as power plant for his paper mill.
1801  Joseph Tiville gets a patent for a perpetual machine.
1812  A shoemaker named Spence claims that he can arbitrarily weaken a magnetic lodestone's power by a "certain black substance". The device is mentioned by David Brewster in an article.
ca.1815  In Switzerland, in la Chaux-de Fonds, David Robert Geiser presents a perpetual clock which is inspected several times, but no suspicious traces are found. After Geiser's death, the fraud is revealed.
1815  A certain Ramis in Munic/Germany invents an electrostatic PMM, whose power source are concealed Zamboni elements (a sort of galvanic battery).
1827  William Congreve, an English officer, clockmaker and scientist, suggests a PMM which shall use capillary effects of water acting on immersed sponges.
1842  The mediacal doctor Julius Robert Mayer describes the mechanical equivalent of heat.
1848  Hermann Helmholtz formulates the principle of conservation of energy.
1843  James Prescott Joule determines not only the mechanical equivalent of heat, but also the equivalents of other forms of energy.
1870  Charles Batchellor gets a patent for a machines based on eccentric guided masses.
1872  John Worell Keely presents his idea, to tap the ether by mechanical oscillations and thus being able to generate energy. In the following 26 years he collects more than 1 million dollars from his shareholders, but is not able to construct a single machine that can be commercially used.
ca.1880  Ludwig Boltzmann interpretes heat as a mechanical phenomen which can be described by statistical methods.
1880  James Clerk Maxwell describes a thermodynamic Gedankenexperiment which later will become famous as the Maxwellian Demon. By this name it became part of the history of physics.
1888  Rudolf Clausius formulates the first two laws of thermodynamics in their final way, as they are still cited today.
1898  After John Keely's death the fraud is uncovered. Keely used concealed pipework for compressed air to run his machines.
1900  The German patent office refuses 320 suggestions for perpetual motion machine patents.
1903  John William Strutt, 3rd Lord Rayleigh invents a perpetual radium clock and rises a sensation. Later the function of the device can be satifactorily explained by experimental proof and Einstein's theory of relativity.
ca.1910  Walther Nernst formulates the third law of thermodynamics.
1922  The Czech inventor Prachar publishes a book on own cost in which he describes many PMMs of based on different principles.
19xx  Max Planck can re-formulate and restrict the third law of thermodynamics.
ca.1950  Viktor Schauberger describes the principle of a vortex turbine (or trout turbine) whose coeffcient of performance shall be over 1.
1955  Belousov discovers an oscillationg chemical reaction which seems to violate the second law of thermodynamics. He is treated as fraud and crackpot and has no success in his attempts to publish his results.
1968  Zhabotinsky learns about Belousov's results on oscillating chemical reactions. He succeeds in getting attention to the affair.
1985  Invention of the SMOT (=simple magnetic overunity toy) by Greg Watson.
1998  Foundation of the Felix Würth company. Their business is construction, manufacturing and sales of machines which use free energy. Some devices contain elements of classical overbalanced wheels.
1999  Sanjay Amin publishes his Entropy Engine, which proved to violate the second law of thermodynamics. The machine and the business case did not work in the way the inventor had in mind.
2000  Reports about Don Martin's corner ring generator. Prof. Evert writes a large article about this machine.
April 2003  Mikhail Smeretchanski gets a French patent for a buoyancy machine that shows all typical construction elements of a rotary PMM. The physics section describes, why particular types of buoyancy machines, though cleverly designed, won't work.

 Unknown and Uncertain Dates

Up to now, I have not been able to collect sufficient information about these inventions and events. If you know any further details, please send them by e-mail.

1650(?)  Dr. Jacobus describes a perpetual machine made of a magnet, a wheel and an iron chain running of the wheel. The chain is asymmetrically attracted by the magnet in order to rotate the wheel.
1800(?)  The englishman Baddley invents a PMM with pendulums and turnable magnets, which shall cause attraction and repelling forces tot keep the device swinging.
16xx(?)  Wilhelm Schröter suggests a perpetual rolling-ball clock. links

Last update: 20 May 2004 /
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