A blog about Johann Bessler and the Orffyreus Code and my efforts to decipher it. I'll comment on things connected with it and anything I think might be of interest to anyone else.
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Monday, 15 October 2012
Johann Bessler's wheel was ahead of its time.
We routinely discuss the various tests that Bessler's wheel was subjected to, such as the 70 pound lifting test, the translocation to a second set of bearings, the 54 day endurance test and the turning of the archimedes pump. Plus, the ability of the latter two wheels to turn in either direction... and there were numerous examination carried out over the twelve years or so, most likely executed by persons determined to prove the alleged scoundrel a fake, but no one succeeded, hence our view that he was genuine.
I was considering what other tests Bessler might have included to try to prove his machine was genuine and I couldn't think of any. In Gründlicher Bericht he describes the possible uses his machine could be put to, such as driving a mill wheel, cable making, glass or stone polishing, alloying, laundry and bleaching, in clocks and machinery associated with hydraulics; pumping water for various uses. I don't think that any of these could easily be added to the ones he demonstrated at the castle.
I have always assumed that during his two meetings with Gottfried Leibniz, Bessler asked what tests the latter could recommend he arrange, and perhaps the endurance test would have been suggested, along with the advice to ensure the wheel bearings did not seize up, perhaps by slowing the wheel down. They might have also discussed the ones described in the previous paragraph, but I think they were probably dismissed as unworkable or not worth the trouble?
As far as I can see the only additional possibility available to him, was to find a man of unimpeachable reputation for absolute integrity who, having seen the interior of the machine, could vouch for its validity - and Bessler found that man in Karl, the Landgrave of Hesse-Kassel.
This leads me on to another thought. In those suggested uses Bessler provides in his Gründlicher Bericht, there isn't really one that could be put to beneficial use in place of the existing methods used at that time. Pumping water out of mines seems to me to hold the most potential but there was competition in the form of the steam engines of Savery and Newcomen. But Savery's engine was limited to a depth of 10 meters (just over 30 feet) and Newcomen's, operating huge pistons, eventually prevailed.
But these machines were steam driven. It is hard to imagine Bessler's wheel drawing up much water by means of an archimedes pump! No wonder Karl did not buy it for his cascade. All cascades and fountains of the time were gravity-fed from a number of reservoirs on the top of the hill ... how ironic!
I think that Bessler failed to sell his machine for the simple reason that his invention was ahead of its time. Many inventions are conceived simultaneously by several different persons because the time is "right", meaning that a technical and scientific foundation exists and that there is demand and business potential for the invention, but Bessler's wheel came at a time when there was no way of using it to pump water. Piston pumps using one way valves had existed but they were few and far between and too small for Karl's cascade. Now, however, the conditions are perfect for Bessler's wheel as an electricity generator and all the other things we can imagine; I suspect it will be discovered simultaneously by different individuals from many different places, because the conditions for its entry into the modern world are right.at last.