Saturday 25 February 2012

Don't assume everything on the internet is correct - it ain't!

The internet is a wonderful source of information but the problem with it is that incorrect information can be spread as easily as the correct stuff.  My work on writing the new book on Bessler is proceeding well and I have tried to ensure that all the information in it is correct, however in the course of double-checking everything some inaccuracies are inevitably found.

In my first version of Bessler's biography I wrote during my research, I had come across no less than three accounts written over a period of some fifty years or more, which all use the same argument in support of their author's contention that Orffyreus was a fraud. They explain away Professor 'sGravesande's belief in the wheel in the following manner. I will quote from the latest account which uses very similar words to the two previous ones. Arthur W.J.G. Ord-Hume's book is called "Perpetual Motion - The History of an Obsession". After describing the examination of the wheel at Kassel by 'sGravesande, the author remarks;

'The Professor certainly seems to have had some measure of faith in the wheel and the demonstration of its ability to turn without apparent external force. We ought not to forget, though, that it may have proved easy to dupe an honest old man whose confidence in humanity was probably unbounded . . . .It is not recorded whether the aging academician ever received a reply to his letter to Sir Isaac Newton.'

As this argument attempted to cast doubt on the professor's competence to decide whether the machine was valid or not, it was important to check his age. If he was elderly, then his capacity as a valuable witness was potentially impaired. In fact, this 'honest old man', this 'aging academician' was born on the 26th September 1688, which means that at the time of the Kassel examination he had reached the grand old age of thirty-three! He lived for over another twenty years, dying in 1742. In 1730 he was described as one of the great luminaries of scientific experimentation at Leiden University, possibly the foremost University of the age. His lectures drew the biggest crowds of students. This does not sound like a man of failing intellectual powers, and he was certainly one who could form an opinion based on the evidence in front of him, which others could rely on as accurate. He would not have upset Orffyreus so much if he had not had the courage to ask the most searching questions concerning the Kassel wheel. The argument that he was old and gullible is invalidated.

It has also been pointed out that I did not include anything about Frank Edwards, "Bessler's Wonderful Wheel", 1956, in which he gives an account of Bessler's wheel.  I omitted it because it contains information which is just plain wrong.  One could kindly call it Poetic Licence, but it is misleading.  According to Edwards,  "When the oiled cloth was stripped away, said Count Karl, he found himself gazing upon a very simple arrangement of weights and levers. Orffyreus explained that he had conceived a system whereby the weights one side of the wheel were farther from the axle than the weights on the other side of the wheel, creating an imbalance which caused the wheel to move. The secret, if there was a secret, lay in the ingenious manner in which the weights on the ascending side of the wheel were prevented from following their normal path next to the rim. Count Karl said that these weights were blocked by small pegs which swung back out of the way as the weight passed the zenith."  There is no documentary evidence to support this account and anyway it does not fit with Karl's recorded actions - it is wrong and that is why I originally left it out, however  have included it in the new book if only to correct the information being published.  Edwards includes a numerous other mistakes such as Christian Wagner being called Claus Wagner for example

But there are still factual errors being posted on the interner and copied and pasted on other websites.  For example in the Gera certificate one of the signees is called Christian Lange and on one website it states that he was Bessler's cousin.  This is not true, Bessler's cousin was Detter Langer, but obviously this was due to a simple misreading of the text, but it has been copied to two other web sites to my certain knowledge. In addition this same website has stated that another signee, Johann Georg Pertsch is described as a professor at University of Helmstedt, however he didn't graduate until 1716 and was only 18 in 1712.  The correct man was his father of the same name and was never a professor and he did not attend University of Helmstedt.  An easy mistake to make but it could lead to confusion.

There are numerous errors on the internet and I have tried to right those relating to Bessler and I hope that when my new book does finally appear it will be error free.  But these little mischiefs do creep in and along with typos and spelling mistakes, are the author's bête noire.

My granddaughter wants me to include this clever little trinket, 
"Don't let 'assume' make an 'ass' out of 'u' and 'me'".


Tuesday 21 February 2012

Would My Book Make A Good Movie?

Another emailer asking me if I am doing anything about getting the book made into a movie, following the Italian docuemntary.  Because I think the story of Bessler would make a good movie, I did some research and this is what I found.

It seems that about half the movies made in Hollywood are adaptations of stories that originally appeared as novels, nonfiction books, comic books, short stories, plays, poems, or what have you. Hollywood studios and production companies aggressively scan major magazines and the lists of New York publishers looking for books and stories that would make good feature films or television shows. If Random House or Harper Collins or some other “major” house published your book, chances are that a professional “reader” has already read your book and written a short memo (called “coverage”) assessing its movie potential. 

If your book was self-published, or published by a smaller press or University press, it’s less likely that a Hollywood “reader” has assessed its movie potential. Hollywood is usually interested in making “big,” popular, commercial movies with wide appeal, so they scan publishers’ lists looking for big, popular commercial books. If your book received unfavorable coverage, or if it was published by an obscure press, then it is unlikely that merely submitting your book to Hollywood studios or talent agents will interest them in its movie potential. Someone (usually you or a producer) will have to show them the movie hidden within the pages of your book, if it’s there.

Given the above state of things I sought information on these professional "readers" and I found that they are difficult if not impossible to contact.  It's easier if you have a contact in the movie business but even then they may not see the story as a movie in the way you can.  Still the best way is the get a literary agen to sell it to a publisher and then let him approach Hollywood.

Ah well, back to the computer and the manuscript.


Friday 17 February 2012

The Italian Documentary "Moto Perpetuo" is finished and I've seen it.

I have just watched the Orffyreus documentary by FarmStudio Factory and I have to say's brilliant!  They have used virtually all the information from my book, "Perpetual Motion;An Ancient Mystery Solved?" and they have made good use of some ingenious graphics and animations.  It has included some shots of me talking but fortunately they have added a voice-over in Italian so you don't hear me umming and erring!  It is shot in a subtle golden glow which gives it an olden-day nostalgic atmosphere, but there are also some moody shadowy scenes too.  I love the Italian commentary - its poetry! Pity I don't speak it, although I was able to follow it in a vague way.

There are three 'experts' interviewed but I have no idea what they were saying or even if they were in agreement with my own views but it doesn't matter as long as more people become aware of Bessler and his work.

I have suggested that they make a version with English subtitles or possibly with an English voice-over but I think they'll do what they want and probably take no notice of me.  I have a copy of the documentary for my own use but I have signed a document agreeing not to share it with anyone, and I dare not violate our agreement. Even if I did share it, it's in Italian so unless anyone understand it they won't know what's happening.

I'll post something when I know when it's going to be aired.


Tuesday 14 February 2012

Spring Inspiration!

I've been asked this question many times - did Bessler use springs in his machine?  My answer has always been the same, in my opinion  He responds angrily and at length to Wagner's frequent suggestions,that springs were used.  Bessler maintains in no uncertain terms that springs were not used in his machine.  He states in Das Tri.... that "its motion depends neither on an external force or assistance, nor, especially, on any internal clockwork device of wheels and springs."

Consider Bessler's point of view; that particular suggestion coming from Wagner implies that some parts were wound up or clockwork. There is no other use for them that would fit in with what was, after all, a discreet accusation that Bessler was guilty of some fault, offence, or crime.  In my opinion any research involving springs to wind up something in Bessler's wheel is a waste of time, in which case Bessler didn't use springs and he wasn't lying.

Having said that, the use of springs for other purposes is most definitely not ruled out.  I have used them myself to dampen lateral sway in some very long levers I designed for use at one time. They may also be used to lessen the effect of impact in a falling weight or reduce the sound of its fall.  Some have suggested using springs to delay a reaction caused by a falling weight and this may be true although I have not used it in that way.  There are several different designs of springs that Bessler could have made use of.

Springs have been used in locks and padlocks since Roman and Viking times and probably is no exaggeration to say that iron or steel springs are vital features of the lock’s technological development. Parts of the mechanisms just don’t work without springs. 

So, a lock spring creates tension – which is usually what the key must displace in order to turn the bolt. Thus, springs store power to perform a task either now or later: pushing forward, holding back or softening a force. Springs have done this kind of work for nearly 2,000 years. 

1. Simple plate spring. About 200 AD until the 17th century.

2. Ward springs. About 100 BC until the 19th century.

3. V-shaped plate springs. About 15th to 17th century.

4. Tumbler with plate spring. About 15th century.

5. Torque springs. About 17th century.

6. Compression springs. About 18th century.

7. Tension springs. About 19th century.

[Thanks again to wikipedia for the above information]

Bessler shows padlocks very clearly in some of his drawings.  They required the presence of certain types of springs which were also used in both organs and guns too!  So Bessler would have been very familiar with their various forms and uses. I thought these shapes might provide inspiration?


Friday 10 February 2012

"Perpetual Motion; An Ancient Mystery Solved?" by John Collins, but not solved by him - yet!

I have received two emails since Christmas berating me for using an ambiguous title for my biography of Johann Bessler.  It seems that I may have given the impression that the book was about my own discovery of the secret of perpetual motion.  Apparently it was thought that the book contained a description of how to build such a machine!  I published this book in 1997, and I must admit that there have been previous such emails over the last few years - maybe one or two a year - and I wonder if this means that others too, have also misread my intention in entitling the book thus, but have refrained from comment.

It was my intention to provide a brief description of the book's content in the title, and in a longer description it would have read as "Did Johann Bessler discover the long-sought-after secret of perpetual motion?".  To me, the inclusion of the question mark at the end of the title showed beyond doubt that I was simply asking the question, had perpetual motion, an ancient mystery, ever been solved? I explained this to the email critics but I don't think they accepted it.  They seemed to think it was some kind of scam designed purely to sell the book on the understanding that the secret lay within the book, so I thought I'd try to clear up any misconceptions.  There is nothing in the book concerning my own work on trying to solve this puzzle, it is a biography about Johann Bessler aka Orffyreus. 

So on to the second reason for this post.  technoguy commented that 'the only problem I had about the book was the end where you go into a gravity "wind" theory of how the wheels worked.'  The truth is the book originally finished before the final chapter but the publisher I did have lined up had requested two things of me; one to reduce the size of the book to 90,000 words - its current length and half its original; and secondly to add a chapter about how it might have worked and what it would mean to people of our time.  It was bound to be highly speculative and if I had my time again I wouldn't have added the last chapter.  Back then I had less idea about how it might be explained.

And finally, an anonymous poster asked what the title of the new book would be?  I had thought something on the lines of "The legened of Bessler's wheel and the Orffyreus Code", but I'm open to suggestions and should the the MS be successfully published and my suggestion of a title be accepted - and it is one that one of you has suggested to me, then due acknowledgement will be included in the acknowledgement section of the book. If there are some acceptable suggestions I'll post them somewhere on the first page of this blog with the author's name attached


Tuesday 7 February 2012

Orffyreus' use of Hebrew letters

I was leafing through Bessler's "Der rechtgläubige Orffyreer", and noticed that page 13 has some curious hand-drawn black markings on it which I recognised as, possibly, items from the Hebrew alphabet, which Bessler mentioned in his Apologia Poetica, he learned during his stay in Prague.

A glance at the picture below tells the story.  Bessler has inked in the Hebrew letters between the two parts of the decorative pattern at the head of the page. Below is a piece I copied from the page and in it I have included two examples found on the internet which clearly match what Bessler has written.  He has reproduced the Tetragrammaton, which is what the Jews call the word for their God - Yahwey.

The Tetragrammaton, from Greek  meaning a word having four letters, refers to the name of the God of Israel YHWH used in the Hebrew Bible. Different spellings of the tetragrammaton occur in Jewish magical papyri found in Egypt. One of these forms is the heptagram, These four letters are usually transliterated from Hebrew as IHVH in Latin, JHWH in German, French and Dutch, and JHVH/YHWH in English. This has been variously rendered as "Yahweh" or as "Jehovah", based on the Latin form of the term, while the Hebrew text does not clearly indicate the omitted vowels. It translates most basically as "I am that I am" or "I will be that which I now am".

The Latin pronunciation of the letter I/J as a consonant sound was, the 'y' sound of the English word 'you'. This changed in descendent languages into various stronger consonants, including at one point in French the 'j' sound of the word 'juice', and this was the sound the letter came to be used for in English. Thus the English pronunciation of the older form Jehovah has this 'j' sound, following the English pronunciation of its Latin spelling. In order to preserve the Latin and approximate Hebrew pronunciation of Jahweh, however, the English spelling was changed to Yahweh.

The septagram/heptagram is important in Western Kabbalah, where it symbolizes the sphere of Netzach, the seven planets, the seven alchemical metals, and the seven days of the week.
  [My thanks to Wikipedia for the above information.]

I assume Bessler wished to include the Jewish version of Christianity in his unified Christain religion and he did use the word JEHOVA frequently throughout this document.  This does lend credibility to Bessler's claim that he learned some Hebrew during his stay in Prague.   With reference to the above quote from Wikipeida I should also mention the presence of the heptagram in MT 137 as explained on my web site at - see the four MT 137 links there.


Sunday 5 February 2012

It's my birthday - 67!

I'm 67 today!  I have decided that if I havn't made a working model of Bessler's wheel by the 6th June this year I'll give up trying to build one, and concentrate on finally writing and finishing the follow-up book to the first one which I wrote and published in 1997 - "Perpetual motion - An Ancient Mystery solved?"

I have started and restarted it several times but I kept receiving more information which I tried to include but which didn't really fit in with the lay-out of the first book.  So I am starting again and I'm just going to tell it in chronological order and try to get a published to take it on. I realise that I gave up much to soon in trying to get the first book published.

Louis L’Amour received 200 rejections before Bantam took a chance on him. He is now their best ever selling Author with 330 million sales.

"Too different from other juveniles on the market to warrant its selling." A rejection letter sent to Dr Seuss. 300 million sales and the 9th best-selling fiction Author of all time.

"You have no business being a writer and should give up." Zane Grey ignores the advice. His 90 books have now sold 250 million copies.

The Tale of Peter Rabbit by Beatrix Potter was rejected so many times she had to initially self publish. To date: 80 million sales.

"It is so badly written." The Author tries Doubleday instead and his little book makes an impression. The Da Vinci Code sells 80 million.

140 rejections stating "Anthologies don’t sell" until Chicken Soup for the Soul by Jack Canfield & Mark Victor Hansen sells 80 million copies.

Having sold only 800 copies on its limited first release, the Author finds a new Publisher and The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho sells 75 million.

"We feel that we don’t know the central character well enough." The author does a rewrite and his protagonist becomes an icon for a generation as The Catcher In The Rye sells 65 million.

5 Publishers reject L.M. Montgomery's debut novel. L.C. Page & Company does not, and Anne of Green Gables sells 50 million.

"Nobody will want to read a book about a seagull." Richard Bach's Jonathan Livingston Seagull went on to sell 44 million copies.

"Undisciplined, rambling and thoroughly amateurish writer." But Jacqueline Susann refuses to give up and her book the Valley of the Dolls sells 30 million.

Margaret Mitchell gets 38 rejections from publishers before finding one to publish her novel Gone With The Wind. Sold 30 million.

I could go on, but the lesson to be learned in publishing is never give up - and I won't!

After that date I shall publish on my web sites and here everything I have worked out regarding the way Bessler's wheel worked and why.


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