Thursday 27 September 2012

Could a carpenter's apprentice really have understood how Bessler's wheel worked?

Johann Fischer von Erlach, in his letter to Sir Isaac Newton's curator of experiments, Desaguliers, wrote of Karl, that "His Highness, who has a perfect understanding of mathematics, assured me that the machine is so simple that a carpenter's boy could understand and make it after having seen the inside of this wheel, and that  he would not risk his name in giving these attestations, if he did not have knowledge of the machine."

Now that is a misleading statement, in my opinion - it wasn't meant to be, but that is how it has turned out.  The problem is that he uses the word 'understand', suggesting that a carpenter's boy could make it after having studied the inside.  The implication being that it is simple and obvious, even to a young inexperienced apprentice.  Apparently Karl declared that he understood it too, sufficiently to risk his good name in saying it was genuine. But if the machine was so easy to understand why has no one thought of the way to replicate what Bessler did, in the 300 years since he proved it was possible?  I think the reason is because there is a principle involved which was overlooked by everyone including Karl.

I think that Karl understood the mechanism but did not appreciate the whole process it underwent in rotating the wheel continuously. This is difficult for me to explain, but I'll try. If I had been able to look at the mechanism in Bessler's wheel and I saw a weighted lever, for example, falling outwards or inwards and in doing so lifting another lever, I might well understand what I was seeing.  I would make an assumption based on what I knew, but if there were restrictions on what could be achieved by the first lever because it might be insufficient to lift the second lever enough, then perhaps a spring attached to the lever being lifted, to assist in the initial lift might be required - but would I have seen the spring?  If I hadn't then I might think the first lever easily lifted the second one; but if I did noticce it, would I make the right interpretation of its use?  And yet without the spring the whole thing might fail.

Having said that I don't think that springs were used in that way in Bessler's wheel.  But I do think that Karl's understanding of the wheel's mechanism was incomplete.  I have good reason for reaching this opinion as I have found a number of intricate requirements and restrictions for the mechanism which are identified in Bessler's drawings but which are not easily recognised without actually building the assemblies - and this, by the way, is the main reason why I think that the efforts to achieve success through simulation alone are doomed to failure.

The second thing is that whatever each mechanisms did, it had to be reversed or reset in order to operate again, to continue the wheel's rotation, but did Karl actually see this other part of the action?  Perhaps Bessler simply said that the action was reversed on the other side of the wheel, but perhaps there were actions which only ocurred on the resetting side of the wheel - in fact, as I have discovered, there were.

Finally, we don't know which wheel Bessler showed to Karl, but I can't really believe that Karl would have waited for six months to allow Bessler time to build the big wheel, before giving the device his blessing, so he must have seen a smaller portable version of the wheel, and this would most likely have been the one-way wheel - a more simple device. 

So I think that Karl was not made aware of this unknown principle which permitted the wheel to work within the current laws of physics. He may have seen it in action but not understood the restrictions imposed on its actions. I know this principle but have not yet incorporated it within a wheel.  I have designed and built a mechanism that performs according to the principle - it does what it's designed to do.  I know people will say that there cannot be a secret principle which obeys the laws of physics and yet works a gravity-only wheel but there is.  It doesn't conflict with any law and the fact that gravity is said to be conservative does not enter into the equation.



Monday 24 September 2012

Bessler's shared drawing features

I'm posting some of my musings on the various graphical  features in much of Bessler;s work.

I noticed a comment on the besslerwheel forum regarding the drawing of a Roberval Balance parellogram on page 556v (page 169 in my published version of Maschinen Tractate). It said that Bessler's drawing showed the Roberval Balance at an angle and therefore, it looked as though the weights were not equal. 

Stewart responded thus, '... It won't self-level, and you can move the parallelogram up and down with ease and it will remain stationary when you let go. This is not a "normal balance" and is a very interesting demonstration that should be studied and understood.'  Below is Roberval's balance drawn in 1669.

I think it worth pointing out that this system was designed to allow the weight of any thing to be checked against a known weight. The object to be weighed is placed on one of the two weigh-pans and checked against some known calibrated weights on the other pan, until balance is achieved.  The big advantage is that it doesn't matter where on either pan the object to be weighed, or the calibrated weight, is placed.

With differing weights the balance will be tilted downwards by the heavier weight, but because the weights were of a similar mass the two pans were always in equilibrium, whether tilted an angle by hand, or level with each other.  

The weigh-pans on the Roberval balance are fixed to a multi-jointed parallelogram whose two other sides are pivoted in their midpoints to a vertical post.  This parallelogram bears similarities to the figures 'C' and 'D' on the 'Toys' page, (MT138-141).  It also has a passing resemblance to the lazy-tongs shown as figure 'E' on the same page.

It seems worth pointing out that the ubiquitous letter 'A' with the sometimes bent middle arm in the Maschinen Tractate, can form a parallelogram but is also similar to the pantograph, a device for replicating a design in a larger of smaller scale.  

To me the pantograph shown below and drawn in 1867 look somewhat similar to the square and compass so often attrributed to the Freemasons, but also in the second Portrait.  

Do these various depictions have any connection with each other, or do they just bear a passing resemblance to each other?



Wednesday 19 September 2012

The "Connectedness principle" revisited and "the pull-not-push" arrangement

In his Maschinen Tractate, Bessler notes that 'number 9 will not work without the application of his "connectedness principle"'. In my published version of MT I retranslated the original text as 'number 9 will not work unless my "principle of movement" is activated'.

I explained my reasoning by saying that the words ‘principis agi..t’ derived, in my opinion, from the Latin ‘ago’, ‘to drive’ or ‘put in motion’, and that this translated as ‘principle of motion or movement’, however Stewart's work on the translation has persuaded me that his translation, 'connectedness principle' is correct and it seems to fit better with the preceeding text.

I've had some more thoughts about this phrase and I think one can infer that it refers to either a connection between two objects or an interconnection between several.  I prefer the idea of two-part connections because I think he would have used some word such as interconnectedness to describe a connection between several objects. He also states that his weights worked in pairs, and that seems to fit.  But what else can we gather from the phrase?

Connectedness implies a degree of connection somewhat less than a full connection and I'm thinking of something like, for instance, a length of rope between ones-self and a heavy object. You can pull it but you can't push it, so it's a one-way connection.  My research has has shown how this is used in Bessler's wheel and he has used two similar arrangement for moving weights in both direction but only pushing them, and then he allows one hald of the pair of weights to return under its own steam and the other is brought back by the pull-not-push method.

But there is another version of the pull-not-push which gives additional advantages.  Using a lever which is articulated or hinged a point between the two ends allows one to pull another object but also to push it and, with the desired proportions, to push it with extra force over a shorter distance.  A combination of these features is used in Bessler's wheel.



Saturday 15 September 2012

A confusion of clues.

I've had some requests asking for more clues and it's not easy to point to the clues without giving too much away too soon!  I say this because I still would like to try and make my own prototype first.  However I think that unless you know the principle which drives the wheel, the clues may not be any use anyway.
Obviously the most useful clue would be one which would lead to an understanding of this principle, but again, I really don't want to share that yet.  On the other hand there may be people out there who do know the principle but have not yet worked out how to incorporate it within the wheel, so they might indeed find my clues useful.

It has always been clear to me that if Bessler wished to preserve and subsequently reveal his design for the benefit of post-humous recognition, or to prove he thought of the solution first, it would have to be contained within some drawings, as well as in text.  It seems to me to be almost impossible to describe the function of a machine in text alone. Sure, you can give some good clues but a picture is worth a thousand words.  So the drawings hold the best clues, but which are they?  In my opinion he would have set down those clues as soon as possible, which means the drawings in Grundlicher Bericht, Das Triumphirende and Apologia Poetica contain the original graphic clues.  I agree there are clues in Maschinen Tractate but they are not as useful as some others, apart from the 'toys' page.

As far as I know, the drawing at the end of the Apologia Poetica is only of use in telling us that there are five mechanisms in the ideal machine - and the same can be said for the MT 137, but I may be wrong about that - or my interpretation of what the fives mean may be wrong or inadequate.  I should also remind everyone that it might simply point to chapter 55 of his Apologia Poetica which obviously contains a wealth of undeciphered hidden text.

For me the portraits only hold information which points to a pentagram.  As before, I assume this refers to the number five again. I'm not convinced that Bessler would or could have included any clues which would show how his machine worked, within the portraits, however I am well aware that at least one other person has found what they regard as useful information there, so I must await the revelation of that information before I can arrive at an informed opinion.

I think it was John Worton who commented that Bessler hid in plain sight the secret of his machine in his woodcut images available for all to see for three hundred years. What better place to hide such information than within a drawing which is open to public scrutiny and has been for 300 years?

And finally I must echo Doug's words, 'some of us have been looking at simulations way too much..'



Tuesday 11 September 2012

Divided Opinions

Great comments guys, on the clues and which are the best and which aren't really clues and the various interpretations of each.  I may not comment much myself, but I love reading them, so thanks and keep it up!

Ever since I became acquainted with the legend of Bessler's wheel, I have been aware that opinion is divided into those who believe Bessler's claims that he had invented a perpetual motion machine, and those who reject them utterly. The latter group is vastly larger than the former.

As time has passed I have become increasingly surprised that there aren't more people, other than we few, who have looked at the evidence and concluded that there must be something in his claims.  But of course the reason is clear, science states that such machine are impossible, and so well-entrenched in our minds is this view that nothing but the clearest evidence of their own eyes would convince those sceptics that such a machine is possible.

I know that on our side of the chasm there is a subdivision; those who believe Bessler's claims but still reject the gravity-only thesis.  This is actually an encouraging fact.  I say this because obviously the evidence which most of the world ignores has convinced some people, despite the apparent impossibility of the claims, that Bessler did not lie.  Those people seek an alternative hypothesis and some suggest the presence of an additional force which assists gravity to complete the closed circle.

It seems to me that if the evidence that Bessler' wheel really worked is strong enough to convince such people, then it should be strong enough to convince more people and maybe some within the scientific community.  Part of the problem may be that there has been no theory published which might plausibly explain how such a device could overturn the entrenched view.  I have a theory in mind and it is instantly understandable once it is described and it requires no working model to prove it.  But it is one thing to know why it is possible but another to construct something which uses that information effectively.  I'm confident that I'm right but of course only a working model will prove it.

My own construction is mostly complete, although I'm only working with one mechanism at the moment.  This is because I have to get this one right before I adjust the others.  The action is almost there but I'm not happy with its range and I shall continue to adjust it until it performs as expected.



Thursday 6 September 2012

Did Bessler's wheel arrive too late or too early?

The timing of Bessler's discovery, after some ten years research, was unfortunate - 6th June 1712.

Denis Papin's experimental steam cylinder and piston was published in 1690 and he finally left Kassel in 1707.  After more than ten years his research culminated in 1704, with a ship powered by his steam engine, mechanically linked to paddles.  He died in London in 1712.

In 1698 Thomas Savery patented a steam-powered pump.  It was not as powerful as the Newcomen engine.

In 1712 Thomas Newcomen built the first successful steam engine in the world which was used for pumping water from coal mines. Savery's original patent of July 1698 gave 14 years' protection; the next year, 1699, an Act of Parliament was passed which extended his protection for a further 21 years.

Savery's patent covered all engines that raised water by fire and Newcomen was forced to go into partnership with Savery. By 1712, arrangements had been made with Newcomen to develop Newcomen's more advanced design of steam engine, which was marketed under Savery's patent. Newcomen's engine used the piston concept invented in 1690 by the Frenchman Denis Papin to produce the first steam engine capable of raising water from deep mines.

Unfortunately for him, the work of these men accidentally conspired to rob Bessler of his rightful place among the engine pioneers of .the 18th Century.  Their machines were designed and built by creditable 'gentlemen' and backed by establishment and  members of the Royal Society in London..

I often wonder what might have happened if the others had not been there when Bessler exhibited his machine - and if he had sold it!

Some people have speculated that it was because we experienced the steam age which, via the internal combustion engine, led to the petroleum age and hence the discovery of the many other benefits from the expansion of research into crude oil, and that we might have omitted that era if we had taken hold of Bessler's wheel and thus side-stepped much that we take for granted?  My personal opinion is that combustion engines would still have prevailed.

Even as far back as 1673, Huygens carried out experiments with a basic form of internal combustion engine, fuelled by gunpowder, and although he never succeeded in building one that worked, his attempts were helpful to those that were successful.  It seems to me perfectly reasonable to think that all the same engines and their fuels would have been developed in more or less the same time period as happened, with or without Bessler's wheel. 


Saturday 1 September 2012

Bessler's double portrait - what was the purpose?

Recent comments about Bessler's two portraits caused me to review my thoughts about them.  The second portrait appears to show someone in front of an organ along with a number of instruments which could belong to the organ-building industry or an alchemist or heaven knows what else.  The reason why I tend to favour the organ-builder as the intended subject is because Bessler built organs and attributed much of his success to his knowledge of their construction.

What ever the intention, it is clear that the hole which has been cut so precisely in the second portrait to permit his face in the first portrait to show through with such startling accuracy, seems to me at least to indicate two things.  Firstly the second portait already existed, or was commissioned by him; and secondly the first portrait was deliberately designed and executed to allow the precise positioning of his face to match that of the second portrait.

[EDIT  - I forgot to say that I think the second portrait was not comissioned by Bessler because it has some text underneath it which has been carefully altered to convey a different meaning.  So in my opinion the picture had already been produced some while before Bessler decided to use it.]

There are only six examples of the double portraits known to date and they are all produced with the same precision.  This suggests that both portraits were designed to appear together and the first one was deliberately drawn with the subject's head an exact match to both size and position of that in the second one. Presumably Bessler wished to present himself in two lights, firstly as the persona in the first portrait and then as an alternative one in the second.  The two personas (or personae if you prefer) being different ones. 

Now I have commented before on the slightly odd look to Bessler's left arm and hand in the first portrait; it appears to be almost a disembodied part of Bessler himself.  Also there is the impression that the arm originally was intended to come down from his left shoulder at a higher angle, meeting near to his right hand at approximately the same level.  Bessler's coat or cloak shows slight rumpling along the higher line as if it originally contained the arm.  

In my opinion the arm was later corrected to its current lower position to allow the inclusion of the alignment with the pentagram as shown in my web site at

There are further speculations about the portrait at which may be of interest in considering the meaning of the symbols in the first portrait.

The main question in my mind is this; what information do people think the symbols in the first portrait are intended to convey?  A jar or gourd, a skull and a book.  Any suggestions?



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