More on the Perpetual Motion Machine

MOTHER EARTH NEWS readers share their feedback on the gravity perpetual motion machine article featured in issue NO. 33.

| November/December 1975

MOTHER EARTH NEWS readers share their interpretation of the gravity perpetual motion machine article featured in issue NO. 33, and provide their own ideas about the success or failure of the perpetual motion system.

Feedback on the Perpetual Motion Machine


MOTHER EARTH NEWS readers shouldn't invest workshop time or material resources on the "gravity perpetual motion machine" suggested by Rainbow Atma in MOTHER EARTH NEWS NO. 33. This device, sketched on page 144 of that issue, is a sort of hollow wheel divided into pie-wedge compartments, each holding a ball weight which is free to roll toward the center or the rim. As Rainbow said, the idea is an old one . . . and it doesn't really work.

The trouble with this and all similar "unbalanced wheel" perpetual motion machines is that they eventually run down because of bearing friction at the hub, air friction on the wheel itself, and other losses. (To explain those last factors would require my writing a complete lecture on energy physics, which might get a bit tedious for all concerned.) The same thing happens in all machines, and there's no magical reason why this particular design should be exempt.

"Working" models of the unbalanced wheel have been built, and they appear to operate all right . . . provided that the observer doesn't hang around long enough to see them run down, or doesn't make a series of strobe-light tachometer readings that would detect the steady loss of rpm. The fact is that friction always catches up in the end.

The "perpetual motion" wheel spins because of the impetus given it by the person or device that set it in motion. Like any other well-balanced rotor on good bearings (wheel, motor armature, gyroscope rotor, whatever), it can go on spinning a heck of a long time on its inertia. Even an antique foot-powered grindstone, with its primitive bearings and its many friction-prone linkages, takes a good while to quit once you have it up to any speed at all.

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