Wednesday 31 March 2010

Horse before cart - or cart before horse - does it matter?

The advice, 'to put the horse before the cart' has cropped up time and time again in reference to Bessler's wheel - and mainly because Bessler uses the phrase himself in one of his 'Maschinen Tractate' drawings. It has been self-evident to me that often when discussing the translation of Bessler's words we can make substantial errors of understanding when confronted with eighteenth century German. I recall one phrase from Bessler's 'Poetica Apologia', whose meaning my translator interpreted as 'a land flowing with milk and honey', but which he said was literally, 'a land where roast pigeons fly into your mouth'. The meaning is clear despite the unusual metaphor and it is strange to think that the translator's 'improved' rendering stems from the Hebrew bible.

Although German sometimes follows the same word order as English, it doesn't always. That can lead to confusion and as if that wasn't bad enough there is the problem of interpretation, as illustrated in the following German to English examples:

A sign in a hotel catering to skiers read "Not to perambulate the corridors in the hours of repose in the boots of ascension".

Another reads, "In case of fire, do your utmost to alarm the hotel porter."

Also there is, "Do not enter the lift backwards, and only when lit up."

And finally in Germany's Black Forest: "It is strictly forbidden on our black forest camping site that people of different sex, for instance, men and women, live together in one tent unless they are married with each other for that purpose." You can see that translating modern German into English is fraught with problems.

Into the recipe for a translation disaster we should throw two more ingredients; one, the original text was written three hundred years ago and was certainly a lot less erudite than say, Samuel Johnson, who lived at roughly the same time. An example of his incomparable style should suffice:

"Sir, a woman's preaching is like a dog's walking on his hind legs. It is not done well; but you are surprised to find it done at all."

Yes I know - not really the same at all, but I just liked the quote! A better example would be this:

"The place, which the wisdom or policy of antiquity had destined for the residence of the Abissinian princes, was a spacious valley in the kingdom of Amhara, surrounded on every side by mountains, of which the summits overhang the middle part. The only passage, by which it could be entered, was a cavern that passed under a rock, of which it has long been disputed whether it was the work of nature or of human industry. The outlet of the cavern was concealed by a thick wood, and the mouth which opened into the valley was closed with gates of iron, forged by the artificers of ancient days, so massy that no man could, without the help of engines, open or shut them."

Imagine translating that into modern German!

And lastly, the writing of that particular quote about horses and carts was written not only in eighteenth century German, but in the most attrocious handwriting to such an extent that it is barely legible. Despite this considerable handicap there are people who have managed to extract what they believe to be the correct meaning. Given that and the other considerations I have outlined above,a small dash of scepticism is in order.

In any case, in my opinion the advice to put the horse before the cart merely refers to MT 20, the design of which, was ascribed to an aquaintance, and should not necessarily apply to all designs. I don't mean that it is wrong so much as we might have over emphasised its importance.

In fact you could put the horse before the cart and let it push it, but there is a reason why this method was never generally adopted. The harness most commonly used, compressed the poor old horse's windpipe when it pushed, causing potential harm or death. But it is another matter when using mechanical leverage. Levers can push and pull and twist and turn about a pivot so don't rule out putting the cart before the horse.


Tuesday 23 March 2010

Nothing else but a working model will do.

I've had to re-assess my plans following a lengthy email from the USA, and it's bad news guys - at least for me anyway. My American contact has decided that although he is curious to see what my paper says, he says he wouldn't be able to form an opinion on the theory detailed in it, without seeing it demonstrated at least in some small way, by means of a working model.

This, he says,is because, according to his current understanding, there is no place for such a machine within the laws of physics. So even though my paper describes how the machine can be explained within those same laws without any conflict, he has made his position clear and I have had to accept that only a working model will persuade him (and anyone else) otherwise.

It may be partly my fault that his thoughts have crystallised along this path, because I asked him what would be his next course of action should my paper convince him that I was right. He explained that even if he thought my theory had merit he would not be able to take any further steps unless I could provide some sort of physical evidence that my theory was based on experimental data rather than mental gymnastics ( my words, not his). Upon consideration I realise that this has been the case all along and I had allowed myself to be persuaded that he would be convinced by my theory and that that alone, would be enough to start the ball rolling (or the wheel spinning!).

I understand his point of view especially considering that he may be in touch with many people such as myself from around the world, all of whom are convinced that they know the secret of Bessler's wheel and are eager to share their thoughts with him. I, of all people, should have remembered that only a working model would ever convince anyone - I've given the same advice to other people often enough - so if I can't share my theory unless it's backed by some kind of mechanism that goes some way towards proving it, then so be it. I must get back into the workshop and try and try until I succeed - or not.

This raises some questions in my mind. My American friend signed an NDA and agreed not to discuss the paper with anyone else, so how could he have initiated some engineering work based on the paper without discussing the project with anyone else? I would have to obtain NDAs off each person involved in building my prototype. If I was able to follow that route and it was found to have worked; how does one proceed then? I don't know. I know that I have his support if I was in that circumstance and could supply him with what he needed, a working model, but I haven't, so there is only one course to follow - build it myself or publish everything and let everyone else build it. If I publish it how do I get some intellectual property protection; some return for my efforts? Patent? Too expensive; may be already covered by prior patent or easily circumvented; not sufficient world coverage (unless you're already a millionair); not acceptable as a gravity-driven device to be taken seriously by patent offices - etc, etc.

So whether it be pride, greed, paranoia or a fit of the sulks - call it what you will, there seems little point in sending my paper to my American contact nor publishing it yet.

Re-evaluating my intentions has been useful to me and I am going to take a little more of this precious time we have at our disposal to continue with my work and hope I can complete my self-imposed mission. Obviously there has to be a cut off point at which I will have to publish, but as I had thought that sharing my paper with my American friend was almost the ultimate path open to me if I didn't make the working model, I now find myself in the position of preferring to continue for a little longer before I give it all away. I have a cut-off point in mind and I will probably adhere to it, but I better not say what that is for fear of having to over-ride it - again!

I intend to remain quiet from now on about my future intentions at least, because I have put my foot in my mouth too many times already! I will keep those who are interested updated about my progress.


Wednesday 17 March 2010

Underlying Principles and Design matters

I think I need to explain myself a little better as I have had some questions raised, and although my answers to them seemed clear enough to me, they obviously remain confusing to others.

My use of the word 'principle' may have unintentionally misled some people. In my mind the words 'principle' and 'design' have two different meanings and that is where the confusion may have arisen. I used the word 'principle' to refer to what, in my opinion, is the actual intellectual reason why Bessler's wheel worked. It does not mean the design of the mechanism. The underlying principle could rely on pendulums, or overbalancing by having some weights further from the centre of gravity when on the falling side of the wheel and nearer to it on the rising side; or it might require the use of an additional force such as ambient temperature changes; or electrostatic or magnetic attraction or a combination of them or centrifugal or centripetal forces or something else. Whatever method the wheel uses may constitute the underlying principle if it can be shown how the use of such forces can be applied to make a working gravity-driven wheel.

So when I say I discovered the principle a while ago, sometime last year or maybe earlier, I cannot remember when precisely, but I mean that now, finally, I can describe how it worked without it coming into conflict with any laws of physics. But the understanding did not arrive in a flash as a complete explanation but rather, it crept up on me in bits and pieces and in the same way, understanding developed in bits and pieces and that is why I cannot say definitively that I discovered the principle on such and such a date. There was, however a starting point which was sudden and dramatic, a bit like Bessler's dream, I imagine. But thinking it out was not enough by itself, to immediately design a working mechanism. That has taken time and I have had to constantly refer to Bessler's clues to gain further insights into how it worked.

So the underlying principle came to be understood by me some time last year and the initial flash of insight which eventually led to full understand occured even earlier than that, but I can't remember exactly when, because the insight did not reveal the full understanding immediately, so I did not know how important it was at the time.

Now as to the design, well there have been several but since the second part of last year I have been designing and redesigning a mechanism which is capable of operating according to the underlying principle. Whether you call it a new design or merely an improved design is a matter of personal opinion, but obviously it has changed over that period but only in detail. Again I may have caused confusion by saying when the design was made and the truth is I can't be sure exactly when this current design was first established as the fore-runner of the prototype but it was towards the end of last year.

All you perpetual motionists know that there comes a point where you are sure you have the final design and you want to share the good news. Then you discover a 'minor' hitch which requires some 'adjustment'. I've been there more times than I care to admit and it is hard to go public and admit you got it wrong. For me this last year has been unique because, as I now understand the underlying principle I know that it is the only way to succeed, but the mechanism has proved to be very difficult to design. Without Bessler's clues I would never have got this far. For instance the 'Toys' page is full of information but it is almost useless unless you have most of the design already down on paper.

One thing is clear; the underlying principle can be used by different mechanisms to achieve the same end, so my mechanism may not be exactly the same as Bessler's and I think that he has put clues out which show more than way to take advantage of this principle.

I hope that's clearer but I have feeling that there may be more questions.


Thursday 11 March 2010

Never say never again!

I can see an end to all these years of research - I always was an incurable optimist! I have received a signed non-disclosure agreement from my American professor contact, and I have counter-signed it and returned a copy, so all that remains is for me to finalise my paper and send it to him. I am extraordinarily excited at the prospect that at last someone with intellectual 'clout' (as we say here) will read it and decide what to do about it. I am so certain that the principle I have described is correct and that it is the only explanation for Bessler's wheel, that I am beside myself! Just what does that mean? It doesn't matter - it describes my mood perfectly.
What if he dismisses my theory as garbage? Perish the thought!

In the mean time I'm still grabbing the occasional opportunity to work to finish my wheel.

I have resurrected my facebook account to see if it appeals to me more than before. I also used to have a twitter account but I couldn't see the point of that and shelved it, and I doubt I will ever bother with that again. But then I didn't think I'd start up my facebook again - so never say never!


Wednesday 3 March 2010

Time flies - and there isn't enough.

Time is passing at an alarming rate and I don't want to end up being too old to pass on the fruits of my labour, so I think that I must call a halt (officially) to completing my attempt to construct a working Bessler's wheel. I could continue 'to the last syllable of recorded time,' but I have to admit that the passage of time appears to accelerate with age and one must pick a point at which the pursuit of the prize must be subservient to the reality. And the reality is that I must stop sooner or later, not because I don't know how it worked but because I'm having trouble actually making it, and sooner is better than later.

So I have decided that I must share what I know and what I've discovered, and relinquish my manic grip on it, and pass it into the hands of a good American friend so he can test the theory and see if I am a genius - or utterly deluded - and very sad!

To that end I have written requesting an NDA from him which he has obligingly agreed to do, and in the mean time and for the last several weeks I have been writing a long document describing everything. I shall pass this to him, sometime next week I guess, and then I shall await agog (or as the dictionary defines it - highly excited by eagerness, curiosity, anticipation, etc) to hear his opinion.

Should he fail to be persuaded by my amazing vision of how Johann Bessler's wheel really worked, there is one more avenue open to me and, failing that, I shall publish said document for all to read and try to see where I may have gone wrong - and maybe help them towards the real solution.

But of course confidence is sky high that I have got it right, so I have no fear that my learned friend will fail to see the light. In fact my explanation is the only one that fits, unless you think that Bessler lied, and that is now unthinkable.

And of course, like some perpetual motion machine I shall continue to strive to complete this complicated construction in the hope that I shall, in the end, triumph over my artless artificer's actions and make a working wheel!
Sorry for the lousy alliterations, but I find it hard to resist - so I don't ;-)


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