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



  1. Hi John, you know you can't please everyone

  2. I did not like the ? mark in the title because it implies that there is some question about whether or not Bessler actually did discover the solution to the ancient mystery of PM. IMO, there is NO doubt about it and no ? mark was needed. However, I understand your intent with the ? mark.

    A better title for the book would have been:

    "Johann Bessler's Perpetual Motion Wheels: An Ancient Problem Finally Solved!"

    Now THAT says it all! Also suing Bessler's name in the title immediately indicates to the potential buyer that you are not discussing YOUR discovery of the secret of PM, but rather Bessler's.

    I would also, of course, highly recommend that you present the "right track" design approach to solving the riddle of Bessler's wheels in your rewrite. It gets away from the gravity "wind" approach and focuses on the simple maintenance of an offset CoM of an active wheel's weights to produce the torque that drove the wheel. Mobilists want mechanistic explanations, not shaky and unsatisfying analogies!

  3. There are always critics - it's a strange world out there with many "interesting" characters. Imagine what such people perhaps thought of books about historic theories and topics, such as Von Däniken's "where the gods astronauts?". I suppose such people would expect to find ancient blueprints for a prehistoric DIY Saturn V, or how to build a spacesuit out of medieval chainmail.

    You can safely ignore "critics" like that, John. In fact I see those people as, what I call, pathological critics. No matter what you do, they won't be happy and will find something else to whine about. Did they ever answer you when you explained your selection for the title? I doubt it. That says enough right there.

    As for the title of the new book: why not call it "Orffyreus Code: Bessler Revisited" with subtitle "An ancient mystery analyzed"

  4. I think the title or subtitle must include "Perpetual Motion" phrase. In search engines, that will help the book to be found easily by the target audience and so it will help the sales. BTW however it is spot on, "Orrfyreus Code" sounds cheesy and it reminds a spin-off book of the "Da Vinci Code". Let me think.. "Decoding Orffyreus" something like that. "Decoding Orffyreus: The Search of Perpetual Motion" or "Decoding Orffyreus: True Story of a Perpetual Motion Helmer". I think we need Doug's touch of creativity. He proved himself a skilled title-finder :)

  5. No Technoguy that is not a good title because it implies the answer can be found in the book, which it can't. It's highly misleading and one avenue a publisher wants to work for them is for a book to spread by word of mouth and that's not going to happen if people are pissed off.

  6. What?! I've looked up the dictionary. helmer means film director?! Sorry, my english really sucks:) Use a word meaning "a person has achieved a great great thing" instead of helmer :)

  7. @ Anonymous

    I did not think my title was that misleading. It suggests the book is about Bessler's wheels and that they were a solution to the ancient problem of achieving PM.

    However, if most think it is misleading, I will yield to their opinions and offer this as an alternative title:

    "The Remarkable Story of Johann Bessler and His Perpetual Motion Wheels"

    Still think it suggests that JC is going to provide THE answer? Then how about:

    "Exploring the Mystery of Johann Bessler's Perpetual Motion Wheels"

    There. JC is only "exploring" the mystery and doesn't suggest he has actually solved it yet (I'll take care of that part! LOL!).

    As tends to be the case more frequently of late, this blog is about very tangential issues that have ZERO to do with determining the internal mechanics of Bessler's wheels.

    Back to work on the real problem for me.

    BTW. Anybody have any "insights" into the various problems of using springs inside of Bessler's wheels?

  8. Hmmm... how about, instead of "Orffyreus Code: Bessler Revisited" with subtitle "An ancient mystery analyzed", "Orffyreus Code: Perpetual Motion Revisited" with subtitle "An ancient mystery analyzed".

  9. @ Andre

    "Perpetual Motion Revisited" and "An Ancient Mystery Analyzed" would be TWO subtitles to the title of "Orffyreus Code"!.

    Anyway, the more plausible explantions that JC can give to how the wheels genuinely worked, the better. While learning the story of Bessler and his wheels is certainly inspiring, giving some credible direction to mobilists would be even more so. The more details about what went on INSIDE of the wheels, the better.

  10. Wow, thanks guys! Good thinking by all of you. It seems clear enough that I should the words, 'Perpetual Motion' and 'Orffyreus' or 'Johann Bessler'. It depends somewhat, on how successful or not, our search for the answer is, over the coming months 'til june 6th. Anyway I shall return to the subject nearer the time for seeking publication and that's a few months away.


  11. Something simple.
    Johann Bessler's Perpetual Motion.

  12. John, what is going to be new in the second book? If the first book covered the most interesting parts of the story, because the publisher requested the not so interesting half be edited out, will the second book be as interesting as the first one? Or will it only appeal mostly to people that bought the first one?

    The Legend of Orffyreus

  13. In order for a book to sell ideally it should hit a wide range demographic. There are three main areas I see with a subject matter like this. Those who love a mystery, those who love history, and those who love science stories. How about,

    Fallen Star
    the true story of a forgotten genius who rocked 16th century society.

    The title of Fallen Star means how he was a star in his time but is now largely forgotten. You can place near the end of the book how he died from falling off the windmill-this will nicely lead back to the title. Don't try to explain how he made his wheel. If you want to include your theory put it in an independant chapter or in the appendix at the end. Concentrate on the target audience. Give the history of who he was. Include who he said he was in his own words. Largely write on how prominent members of society viewed him. DONT lean towards a pro Bessler agenda, let the readers make up their own minds. Drama sells. Show unequivocally how he was a genius either way. He either built A real free energy machine, or he was smart enough to fool everyone around him including some of the best minds of the time.

  14. I think JC should not worry about writing a book on Bessler that will have "wide" appeal and, consequently, would present the pro's and con's of the validity of Bessler's achievements. This should be a book that is 100% PRO Bessler and which casts his detractors in the role of those envious of the celebrity that Bessler was achieving despite his "low birth".

    This book is NOT for the "general" reader. That reader won't be a mobiist and might be inacapable of understanding the various mechanical problems associated with achieving mechanical PM. This book is for newbie or veteran active mobilist who is looking for the best and most accurate information he can find concerning the construction of the wheels. As their ranks increase (hopefully!), the sales of the book should also increase.

    Give your REAL target audience what they want and the book will do well. Water it down with excessive historical trivialities, psychological analyses, and obscure analogies and it will be nothing more than another PM book that will be quickly dismissed and forgotten.

    IF genral interest in Bessler ever ignites, you can be sure that the PM critics will begin to get in on the act with books of their own that will pander to THEIR audience. Those books will focus 100% on why Bessler HAD to be a liar and all of his wheels hoaxes. You can absolutely bet that this will happen.

  15. Techno, if John wants to self publish tne by all means gear it for a niche audience. And the sales will be low. If he wants a pulisher to take on the project I gave a good outline. Tech, stop thinking about just yourself and be realistic. A publishing company wants one main thing, money. That's why they are in business. And they want repeat business. JHohn can include enough tidbits that would warrent a second book if the first book made enough sales. John isn`t going to get any worthwhile publishing company to take on his project if it is written by a one sided zealous fan. Writing the book in the manner I suggested is NOT watering it down with trivialties. Writing it they way you want will be because,to date, there is absolutely no known method to create a gravity wheel. So all you would be filling it with is heresay. If you can prove there is a way though, then what your saying would be a better way to handle the subject matter. And tech...who gives a ** what critics think. A critic will always have an opinion. Would you rather the audience be brainwashed, or would you rather they came to their own conclusion, even if that conclusion was no conclusion at all. If it was written right enough facts would be presented on both sides that would make it hard to determine what Bessler really had, until the time comes when it is proven otherwise.

  16. So Tech, because you love to see your words in print, let me be clear and cut to the chase. If John wants to have his book geared for a niche audience, the perpetual motion hobbiest, then he`ll have to self publish and your way is fine. If he wants a publishing company to take him on, he has to thinnk of the widest demographic range possible, and not your way.

  17. Doug, the publishers are in it for profit and producing anything over 100,000 words starts to become more expensive and yet they can only set a price within a certain range, so the cheaper the book is to produce the higher their profit. If they are publishing a known author then they can afford to produce a longer book, but as I was a first time author they required a shorter book. It wasn't about removing less interesting parts - just a shorter book.

    The largest parts I removed concerned code-breaking and in particular, the life and work of Trithemius, John Dee and several others of the era. Also I discussed the interest in Alchemy at Prague.

  18. Thanks for your input guys. I'm rewriting the book for two reasons. Firstly I have much more information about Bessler and what happened to him in later life, but nothing of particular interest to mobilists, but I wanted to include it to give a more finished account of his life.

    Secondly there is a chance that someone will take the book and make a film of Bessler. I have seen the first part of the Italian documentary and even though I don't understand Italian I think it is brilliant. They have told the story very effectively and with the new stuff I intend to include in the book I can see an amazing and popular film being produced - with the right actors and director.

    I understand technoguy's dislike of 'excessive historical trivialities', but such details colour a book and add general interest which expands the potential audience and if the PM puzzle is to be solved, then the wider the audience the better.

    Of course if the secret of the wheel's actions should become known then that will be included in a separate chapter.


  19. Okay. I can see that I may have let my viceral hatred of editors "color" my opinion of what JC should do with HIS book. In the end, it's better to have more books about Bessler than less. So, if he has to jump through some hoops to make a publisher comfortable enough to invest in publishing the title, then that is what he will have to do.

    I must admit that, despite my focus (really more of an obsession!) with wheel mechanics, I too would like to know more details of what happened to Bessler between the time of the destruction of the Weissenstein wheel and his fall from that windmill in 1745. No, it won't make the reverse engineering of his wheels any easier, but it will certainly add to the drama of his story.

    It is a real shame that 99.9999+ % of humanity has never heard of Bessler and there have not already been several films devoted to him by now. Maybe JC's next book can help rectify that situation.

    And, of course, it would REALLY be nice if that "lone wolf" mobilist would emerge just before the book is published so that a working solution to the mystery could be presented in the book's last chapter. That alone would guarantee alot of book sales.

  20. Here we go again,..The little starlings are squabbling over the crumbs again.

  21. John, why not self-publish the book? That way, you can tell the wholes story as you see fit. In fact, you might even think of a additional book(s) on the topic, telling the details you had to left out initially, and perhaps even a book with technical ideas (drawings, decoding clues, mechanisms) about Bessler's contraption. Of course the latter should be technically sound. Just brainstorming a bit here.

  22. I could follow that route again Andre, and hope that a publisher picks it up at some point. It might happen if a film was made, but it's still a long shot. I might follow both routes; one, finish the publisher's version of the book, which requires all sorts of restrictions on layout etc (see for further info) - and/or self-publish which has its own hurdles to negotiate! (see manuscript submissions for lulu or see ( I've done it once and it doesn't get any easier.

    In fact I'm wondering whether to bother now! The easiest route for me and at no cost, would be to write the book, convert it for computers, e-readers and kindle etc and sell it via a web site. But no, I think the publisher is the best way forward.


  23. John do you have a different adress than this one? for further info
    I tried to use it but wikipedia says such a page doesn't exist. By the way thanks for the info! There are some book ideas I'd like to write and the more I know the better.

  24. I just checked it again anon and it works for me. Try wikipedia and search for 'manuscript format', if the link isn't working. Good luck with the book.


  25. There are many advantages to self publishing one's books. It can usually be done in less than a half a year for a nominal fee. If this is done, then one does not have to endure a quirky editor who tries to rewrite the book (using the author's UNpaid labor, of course) to agree with HIS vision of what the author's work should look like in order to make it as profitable as possible. Also, when self publishing, the author usually retains ALL rights to work. This rarely happens with "traditional" publishers.

    If one takes the time to carefully read the publishing contract he will be signing with a traditional publisher, he will become aware that they usually retain ALL rights to the work for the pathetic royalites they will pay the author. Then, maybe six months after they've printed up the first edition, if it is not selling up to expectations (this happens about 90% of the time), any unsold books are "repulped" to make fresh paper and clear space out in their storage warehouses. At that point the publisher is finished with the book and its author whose work is now "out of print" and they then move on to taking advantage of the next literary hopeful that comes along.

    All of this nonsense is immediately eliminated when one self publishes. With the new Print On Demand or POD technology, books are only printed up and shipped out as the orders come in and, most importantly, one's book never goes out of print! If a customer orders a particular book fifty years from now, he gets a NEWLY printed copy.

    If I ever do a book on Bessler (a possibility considering the amount of information on his wheels' internal mechanics that I now possess), it will be self published and it will contain EVERYTHING I think is important about the subject!

  26. JC, why don't you write it as a fiction? A fiction based on true events. Something like the Da-Vinci Code. That will open the gates of the movie world for you, perhaps. Let's dramatize the events from the eyes of an apprentice working under Bessler or his wife, I don't know. May be a guy finds the secret 300 years later. May be he finds a secret diary of Bessler or the protagonist of the book...

  27. @ yellowson

    There is already a fictional version of the Bessler story written by an author named David N. Wilson. It takes the reader back and forth between the time of Bessler and the present and is available from Amazon as an ebook download for $2.99.

    Fiction is nice to read or see and can be successfully used to fill in historical gaps and make historical figures "come to life". But when all is said and done, the mobilist attempting to duplicate Bessler's wheels needs FACTS to work on. Fiction alone will not lead us to what we seek: a genuine working PM gravity wheel.

  28. techno thanks for the heads up. I've purchased the book.


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