Thursday, 15 March 2012

Sir Isaac Newton misrepresented by the false Frank Edwards attribution.

A lot of people have repeated what they believe to be a famous Newton quote, "Sir Isac Newton once observed that the seekers after perpetual motion are trying to get something from nothing."  Now I have always been suspicious of the authenticity of this attribution for three reasons, firstly, it doesn't fit with Newton's early notes about the potential for a gravity-enabled perpetual motion machine, see my blog on Monday, 12 March 2012.  I spent a lifetime researching documents relating to Bessler and in particular, anything connected with professor Gravesande's letter to Newton on the subject of Bessler's wheel.  In all the years I looked I found just one reference to perpetual motion as a potential machine and I have commented on that in the above blog.  There is absolutely no documentary evidence that Newton said anything else about the subject either in writing or as a reported conversation.

Secondly the language is completely un-Newtonesqe.  By that I mean the language phrasing and style is entirely unlike anthing that Newton is quoted as saying elsewhere.  Here are some well-known examples of his words:-

"I do not know what I may appear to the world; but to myself I seem to have been only like a boy playing on the seashore, and diverting myself in now and then finding a smoother pebble or a prettier shell than ordinary, whilst the great ocean of truth lay all undiscovered before me."

"If I have seen further than certain other men it is by standing upon the shoulders of giants."

"I keep the subject of my inquiry constantly before me, and wait till the first dawning opens gradually, by little and little, into a full and clear light."

"If I have ever made any valuable discoveries, it has been owing more to patient attention, than to any other talent."

There are dozens of websites providing examples of Newtons words, and these prove the point.

Thirdly, the first time I came across the quote was in Frank Edward's book, "Strangest of All", in which he recounts the legend of Bessler's wheel, with one or two additional inventions of his own.  Because recently this quote has resurfaced I decided once and for all to either verify it as genuine or prove that it is nothing more than a piece of artistic license - Artistic licence is a colloquial term, sometimes euphemism, used to denote the distortion of fact, alteration of the conventions of grammar or language, or rewording of pre-existing text made by an artist to improve a piece of art. [thanks to wikipedia]. 

We already know that Frank Edwards invented the story about Karl seeing pegs in Bessler's wheel and rushing away to write down a description of what he saw, so it is perfectly reasonable to attribute the quote he ascribes to Newton as in fact another of his own creations.

In order to check out my theory I have searched through many, many web sites looking for every Newton quote available, and there is nothing remotely similar to the one being discussed.  I have also sought other sources for the quote but everyone is almost word for word the same as the one in Frank Edward's book and none of the ones I have seen pre-date Edward's - in most cases the quotation is prefixed with the words, 'Sir Isaac Newton once observed....' a perfect match to Edward's words -  or 'Newton is reputed to have said...'

There is no such quotation mentioned in the earlier book on Bessler, R.T.Gould's book, 'Oddities', yet this compendium of legends is replicated in its entirety in Frank Edward's version, and obviously formed the basis for his book.

It seems that before there was Coast to Coast AM with Art Bell and George Noory, there was Frank Edwards of the Mutual Network, with one of the earliest late night national radio talk shows exploring mysterious topics. He called his program, "Stranger than Science," and covered everything from Bigfoot to UFOs. If the story lacked impact then I guess a little poetic license could  spice it up.

I was fascinated to discover how widespread this quotation has become, thanks largely to the internet.  Even the arch-critic of perpetual motionists, Donald Simanek, [see] uses it.  

If you put the whole sentence, "Sir Isaac Newton once observed that the seekers after perpetual motion are trying to get something from nothing." in inverted commas into google you get nothing, if you remove the words (or the quote marks) Sir Isaac Newton once observed that, you get about 217 pages, but if you put Sir Isaac Newton's quotes you get 223,000 pages!  The 217 are merely copies which originated in Frank Edwards book.

It may be that Edward's was confusing Leonardo da Vinci's comment, "Oh, ye seekers after perpetual motion, how many vain chimeras have you pursued? Go and take your place with the alchemists!", but it is not the same thing at all and hardly of equal literary value.



  1. In consideration to the "good" that Edwards did in promoting interest and research into various "exotic" subjects, I'm prepared to cut him some slack over this alleged Newton quote.

    For example, maybe Edwards had access to some material on Newton that we do NOT yet have access to and that was the basis for him attributing the quote to Newton. Afterall, if we want to be honest, we have to admit that not everything is on the internet yet. For example, there was a reference to an ENGLISH translation of DT that was published in 1770 (I think I recall reading this in Dircks' book). Yet, I've never seen that translation...have you?

    The alleged quote is also something that actually does describe what mobilists have always looked for: a machine that will output energy / mass without needing to be supplied with a greater amount in some "conventional" form. An OB wheel that slowly converts and outputs the energy / mass of its weights would certainly fit that description.

    Yet, the alleged quote is not an absolute denial of the possibility of PM. Based on his sketch of a PM gravity wheel, Newton was obviously open to the possibility. So, this quote is not one that I could immediately rule out as something Newton might have said.

  2. Good points techno, I just get irritated by the number of factual errors which get propagated on the internet.


  3. Newton was probably thinking along those lines if he didn't say that exact quote; he realized there wasn't any way to reflect gravity; so he stopped there, and it never appeared in his notes again. His abandonment of the topic would imply he didn't think such devices were possible, whether or not he said so. I'll cut him some slack for that considering it against his body of work.
    It's a factual error that gravity is capable of turning a wheel:)

  4. On the subject of the faster than light neutrinos:


  5. @ JC

    I agree. There's a joke that says, "The internet is full of information...some of it is actually accurate!". However, I like to think that, over time, the truth will emerge and those sites that contain erroneous info will be updated or eliminated.

    Doug wrote:

    "It's a factual error that gravity is capable of turning a wheel"

    Don't tell that to the people who build water wheels! LOL!

    Of course, in a water wheel one side is aways ALOT heavier than the other. In an OB PM gravity wheel, however, both sides will contain the same amount of weight. The torque produced is the result of the sustained eccentricity of the CoM of the wheel's weights. How is that possible?

    One way to think of how an OB PM gravity wheel would work is that it would contain the mechanics necessary to cause the CoM of its active weights to actually continously slide away from the punctum quietus as the drum attempted to bring that CoM back to that point. In the process the drum experiences a continuous torque and accelerates. It's sort of like a dog chasing its tail! I've seen a friend's dog do this on occasion and he can really fan the air around himself at top speed. But, then again, so could Bessler's wheels!

  6. Once again misconceiving closed and open systems.

  7. @ Technoguy

    IF you are Right; then I am Wrong: I will have wasted 12 years of my life (six years part-time/ six years full-time) and £30,000 on ‘The Wrong Track’; as you define it.
    I am NOT a Newbie Mobilist. I say again that ‘those words in APV55’ and ‘the images in MT,’ are much more than ‘a HINT’ at the workings of Bessler’s Gravity Wheel: they describe real and recognisable PARTS of the machine.

    No recognition; No Posthumous Recognition.

    There are definitely no ‘Cords’ inside of Bessler’s Wheels.

    I may have made a BIG MISTAKE and so may YOU,

    Time will tell!


  8. Technoguy and Frank Edwards have a lot in common.

  9. @ John Worton

    You ONLY wasted 12 years? I ENVY you, sir! I wasted several TIMES that amount before I finaly woke up to what was REALLY going on inside of Bessler's wheels.

    Yes, yes, APV55 does say a FEW things that pertain to the appearance of Bessler's wheels such as the children playing with the clubs among the columns (a reference to the axle's pegs lifting and dropping the wooden stampers placed near the axle between the vertical supports or "columns" holding the axle) or the horses wandering aimlessly (the weights rotating about the axle) or the peacock's tail (what the drum's radial supports looked like when the side coverings were removed). That's about it, though.

    You wrote "There are definitely no ‘Cords’ inside of Bessler’s Wheels." Oh, Really?

    It is in MT 9 that Bessler announces a new way of making a PM gravity wheel that uses chains or belts to interconnect the weighted levers and says that Leupold's lever wheel (which had no such interconnected weighted levers) could be made to run using Bessler's "Connectedness Principle". In order to have "connectedness" one needs something to do the connecting together of the weighted levers. Chains are too noisy and leather belts have their problems. Cords, however, are light, strong, quiet, and can be dyed various colors for easy identification.

    Bessler also mentioned that he built his wheels in "layers". Considering that each active wheel (or sub wheel in a two directional wheel) would have required DOZENS of cords spanning the spaces between its 8 weighted levers, it would have been impossible to place them all into the same plane. They would have been carefully separated into different parallel planes or layers so that, during drum rotation, no two cords would rub across each other and fray until they finally broke and thereby interferred with the smooth shifting of the active weighted levers within a drum. During any 45 degrees of drum rotation, certain cords would have been "tight" (and thereby transfering energy / mass between weights) and others would have been "loose" (and thereby not transfering energy / mass between weights).

    The important thing, JW, is not how much time one has wasted on "wrong track" approaches to solving the Bessler Wheel Mystery, but how quickly he gets onto the "right track" so that he doesn't waste anymore time and can finally start to make some real progress for a change.

  10. I believe that Bessler used separate layers because each set of weights requires the full use of the 360 degree circumference.
    So obviously there were four layers.You don't need another whole set of weights for reverse direction because with a symmetrical configuration over balancing can happen both ways,..from the top to the bottom!

  11. I want to share this video with you;
    Basically this professor says perpetual motion is impossible but let's say you find it, do not publicize it, just sell the power! I know selling the power is not as easy as it sounds, but at least, it is a different perspective you may consider.

  12. @ Trevor

    I've made some estimates of the number of cords used in a one-directional Bessler wheel. If we assume that, in order to "rise in a flash", each 9:00 - 12:00 ascending side weighted lever had to be attached to FOUR other weighted levers whose weights were dropping with respect to their rim stops, that means each weighed lever had to have a minimum of four cords attached to it. Thus, for eight weighted levers we have (8 levers / wheel) x (4 cords / lever) = 32 cords / wheel. BUT, don't forget the SPRINGS! Assuming that each lever had a single spring attached to it and that attachment was not direct, but rather indirectly made through a cord stretched between the lever and end of the spring, then that adds another cord per lever. The total then becomes (8 levers / wheel) x (5 cords / lever) = 40 cords / wheel!

    But we're not done yet! Those 40 cords are for a SINGLE one-directional wheel. Since a two directional wheel contains TWO one-directional wheels in opposition to each other, that means a two-directional wheel's drum would have contained a minimum of 80 cords!!!

    Yes, it's certainly alot of cords, but Bessler would not have been deterred by this and he even shows wheels in MT with "high cord counts" (consider MT 14 which he says can be made to work). How were all of these cords arranged within a wheel. Well, let's just say that I eventually found out how, but that's a really tasty nut that I won't be sharing with my fellow squirrels at the moment. But, I can assure everyone that it can be done and in only a few carefully configured "layers". The total thickness of the layers required by a one-directional wheel, at a minimum, need only be a few inches.

    @ yellowson

    Ignore ANYONE who tries to tell you PM is impossible. I classify them as "NO trackers" since they only parrot what they have been taught by other "no trackers" and, generally, have made NO attempts, even "wrong track" ones, to find some answers for themselves through HANDS ON construction or modeling. Most no trackers are unaware of the ENORMOUS amount of energy contained in metal weights that is just waiting to be released WHEN they are finally used in the correct "right track" mechanism. If they do acknowledge this energy, they will say that it is impossible to release. In reality, it is impossible for THEM to do this, not for BESSLER or for anyone else who gets on and STAYS ON the "right track"!

  13. My Friends,

    I'm happy to announce that I just discovered John's Italian documentary available on YouTube at:

    Happy viewing! And, I hope everyone has brushed up on their Italian! lol


  14. Thank you Marc! I'll post it elsewhere too.


  15. Now that the documentary is on youtube , someone could translate it for us non italian speakers.
    I'm curious to know what the experts said.
    Techno's wheel gets more magical with each description.

  16. TG you are dreaming,.. Those MT drawings were made long before he discovered the secret.
    I have a working wheel that turns very positively without any cords at all!
    I just have to figure out how keep the pendulums swinging...Any suggestions!?

  17. Unfortunately, I do not have a broadband connection yet (still not affordable in my area) so I won't be able to view the youtube version anytime soon. Would be nice, however, if someone could post some frames from the documentary showing the Weissenstein wheel recreation. That's really my main interest in the documentary.

    Trevor wrote:

    "Those MT drawings were made long before he discovered the secret.
    I have a working wheel that turns very positively without any cords at all!"

    Most of the MT drawings probably were made before Bessler finally discovered the "secret" of PM. However, I'm convinced that MT 9 through 20 were purposely selected for inclusion AFTER he discovered the secret and were then inserted into MT in order to present the reader with a set of operational "objections" that would all be overcome with the finally working design that he had found. The drawings of that working design originally appeared at the end of MT but, due to his arrest, were removed, incinerated, and buried. Despite this disaster, however, those dozen drawings can provide us with valuable clues as to how the actual design worked. Again, I stress that these dozen MT drawings only HINT at what the actual wheels' internal design looked like. Do NOT make the newbie mobilist mistake of taking the MT illustrations too literally because ALL of them are unworkable "wrong track" designs.

    I, too, have had many wrong track designs that "turned very positively"...until they reached equilibrium, that is. None of them ever managed to CONTINUOUSLY ACCELERATE through even a single rotation. Usually some initial shifting of weights would give the wheel a kick that propelled it through a 45 degree increment of rotation, but that would be about it. Never did I see my weights successfully "reset" at the end of 45 degrees of rotation so that another 45 degrees of rotation could take place. But, eventually, I learned what the problem was. My designs were all "wrong track" ones and could NEVER work. Now that is all changed. I have finally "climbed higher on Jacob's Ladder"...metaphorically, that is.

    Also, don't be concerned about my estimate of the number of cords within a one-directional wheel or sub wheel of a two directional wheel. MT 14 is a ONE-directional wheel and Bessler tells it can be made to work. It contains 36 cords!

  18. TG - did you ever try setting up another identical wheel as a 2nd "layer" at 22.5 degrees to the first wheel so it would keep shifting through the rotation?

  19. @ Fred

    Yeah, I've tried the "complementary phasing" of multiple independent wheels so that one would take over as the wheel(s) leading it began to lose torque. This approach, which Bessler suggests in several of the early MT illustrations, does not work. The problem, for two independent wheels, is that when the leading wheel's CoM passes the punctum quietus point, it then begins to rise on that wheel's ascending side and increasingly opposes the CoM of the lagging wheel which is still on that wheel's descending side and beginning to approach the punctum quietus. To offset this annoying effect, one is tempted to continue to add additional independent wheels so that one will have more CoM's on the descending side than CoM's on the ascending side. All that happens is that one ALWAYS winds up with the same number of independent CoM's in opposition to each other and no net torque to turn the wheels' common axle. When one finally has THE "right track" design that Bessler used, he will be able to maintain the offset CoM with a SINGLE wheel containing 8 interconnected weighted levers.

    Good News, everyone...I was able to view parts of that Italian tv Bessler documentary last night and I even had an Italian speaking translator at my side providing English translations for me!

    I visited a friend of mine who recently purchased a nice little Toshiba "Satellite" laptop and she also got a broadband cable modem for it attached to her cable tv system. The speed was blazing.

    I did not watch the entire documentary, however, but focused on the parts containing the Weissenstein wheel. Here are my thoughts:

    1.) I was a bit disappointed with the model of the Weissenstein wheel. When the actor was up close to it, it was obvious that it was only about 6 feet in diameter. But, I guess that was the best that could be done with a tv show's special effects budget.

    2.) Maybe it was the youtube video or something, but the scenes with the actors seemed to be so dark. Again, I figured that they were using dark backgrounds to save costs on sets.

    3.) There's something particularly UNconvincing about Italian actors playing Germans! LOL!

    4.) JC is balder than I imagined him to be! I think he could look decades younger with a nice high quality hairpiece! ;>

    5.) But, at the end of the day, its FAR better to have ANYTHING of tv about Bessler and his wheels than nothing at all...

  20. Technoguy, I'm balder than I wish, but I once tried a hairpiece and it looked ridiculous!


  21. @ JC

    Today's hairpieces are light years ahead of those made decades ago. Today's hairpieces often weigh only about an ounce and are cool on the scalp. Most wearers are unaware that they are wearing one! You can even get ones made from human hair. Gone are the elastic scalp bands. Now the hairpiece is held to the scalp with several strategically placed double sided adhesive "dots" and they will not come off in the wind or while swimming.

    If I needed one, I'd certainly prefer wearing today's hi-tech hairpiece to that monstrosity that covers Bessler's head in the first DT portrait! LOL!

  22. Trust me techno - I have a highly domed head and anything on top looks like a cupcake on top!


  23. Very nice article about Isaac Newton Quotes. This is very informative about newton.Thanks for sharing...


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