Thursday, 4 November 2010
Bessler's "Connectedness Principle".
A couple of weeks ago I received an email asking me what I understood by Besslers "connectedness principle". I answered to the best of my ability at the time, but I have had further thoughts about it which I thought I'd put down here.
In his Maschinen Tractate number 9, Bessler says:-
"Because experience shows us that the ball-driven wheels like those seen in the present figure and diagrams were of no avail, people speculated on another principle, namely on weights. To be sure in all the weight drawings that I have found, these weights appear simple and are not connected together with belts and chains, even in Leupold, but nothing can be accomplished with any device unless unless it responds due to my connectedness principle..."
In my original version I changed the phrase "connectedness principle", to something I thought was more accurate, but since then I have been persuaded that the above phrase is probably closer to the original intention.
So what did he mean? The word "connectedness" doesn't even appear in some dictionaries and is probably more akin to the literal translation of Bessler's language than an apposite English word. It is a noun and is defined as "a relation between things or events http://www.thefreedictionary.com/connectedness - or a "state of being attached, ability to be connected". http://dictionary.babylon.com/connectedness/.
I don't feel that these get to the actual meaning intended by Bessler. For clarification I looked up some synonyms for 'connected' and found :- "linked, joined, united, coupled, associated, combined,engaged", and there are several more.
"Connectedness" conjures up the idea of things being joined together or united, but in my opinion it also suggests the amount or intensity of a connection which may vary in some way. The coupling of two objects may well be described as connected but their connectedness might be less than or equal to a theoretical maximum. How can we determine what was meant?
One could argue that two things are either connected or not, but it depends; it might be a loose connection in the same way that a nut might be loose on a bolt and therefore it can allow some movement in the connection - or the nut is tight and there is no movement; or it might describe a man on a length of elastic doing a bungee jump - he can stretch the connection and be pulled back to a degree; or a dog which is connected by its lead to its owner - he can pull the dog or prevent it running away but he cannot push with the lead because it's a made of a chain or a length of leather and therefore one might describe it as connected but the connectedness is not as complete as it could be with say a metal rod which is inflexible.
It may be a two-way connection but one way is rigid and the other is flexible. The connection may be, to a certain degree, more or less flexible than it could potentially be.
Bessler must have intended something other than a rigid connection otherwise there was no point in establishing the idea of a "connectedness principle". He implied that his wheel required his connectedness principle in order to function, therefore we might assume that the connection in question was not rigid and unyielding but that the two connected objects were capable of some movement which was independant from each other at some point. For instance if a weight fell and in doing so moved another weight, that would require some connection even if it was only a brief collision with the other, either by direct impact or by means of a rope or chain. Subsquently the fallen weight would have to return to its former position in order to fall again but would perhaps be able to do so without pulling the other weight with it.
Such a "connectedness principle" might also permit delay in certain movements of weights which would be advantageous in some designs.
I don't know what the answer is, but I thought I'd pass on my musings as food for thought. In the mean time I have a theory and I am testing it. I don't know if it will help but given the variety of possible connections outlined above it will probably take me some time to work my way through them. The only thing I do know is that in my design a connectedness principle as described above is a vital ingrediant.
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