Sunday 23 December 2012
I'm not sure if I shall post another blog before Christmas as our house is now bursting at the seams! My elder daughter, son-in-law and two of my grandchildren are all here and eating and drinking us out of house and home! Two of them are now six foot four and can eat for the olympics, and we have had to resort to alcohol to de-stress! It was also my younger daughter's birthday, yesterday, and we are having ten for Christmas dinner. Great fun though and I wouldn't miss it for the world, but getting time to blog when there is so much going on is not so easy, but I do get up early every morning, always have done, and that may be my best time to write.
My long search for the solution to Bessler's wheel..............continues! I don't know how many times, as each year draws to a close, I've written that I'm sure that next year will be the year somone somewhere succeeds in solving this puzzle. So what about 2013? Will it be the year? I don't know and perhaps it is a good idea not to tempt fate by saying that I have a feeling that it will be the year when Bessler's wheel rolls again!
I'm disappointed that we didn't succeed during this 300th anniversary year but that would have been a mighty coincidence, wouldn't it - to actually solve the problem on the 300th anniversary? So next year will be the 301st since Bessler exhibited his wheel, but of course he probably built his proof of principle wheel the year before so maybe it will be 302 years since he actually discovered the secret. It simply doesn't matter whether we time the solution to a nice round number of years as long as we do make the discovery - and the sooner the better.
There are lots of discoveries to celebrate every year but mostly only the more famous ones get a centenary. Somehow I feel that when this one surfaces it will earn the right to have centenary celebration. So forget the 300th anniversary, next year will do just fine for the discovery of how Johann Bessler built his self-moving wheel. Good luck to us all and I wish everone a Merry Christmas or a Happy Holiday according to your personal preference.
Friday 21 December 2012
It seems clear to me that Bessler's wheel was in a state of continuous imbalance. The first wheels which only turned one way, had to be tied down or locked to prevent them turning. Witnesses reported that the wheel began to turn spontaneously as soon as the lock was released. Bessler said that his "weights are themselves the PM device, the ‘essential constituent parts’, which must of necessity continue to exercise their motive force indefinitely – so long as theykeep away from the centre of gravity."
It has been suggested elsewhere that perhaps the wheel was tied down at a certain point so that it would begin to turn of its own accord when released. I think that if you have a wheel which must be continuously out of balance, which is what I believe a gravity-driven wheel would be, then there would be no need to tie it down at a special place; every position of the wheel would be out of balance.
Bessler wrote textual clues in two ways; he said exactly what the clues suggest he meant, as in the above quotation - or he wrote in ambiguous terms so as not to give too much away; but he did not lie. The sincerity in his words shines through, he was excited about his discovery and, just as we do, he liked to tease us with bits of information. So when he said "weights are themselves the PM device, the ‘essential constituent parts which must of necessity continue to exercise their motive force indefinitely – so long as theykeep away from the centre of gravity," that is what he meant. You can try to read between the lines and get at some other hidden meaning, but there isn't one; it does what it says it does.
I'm well aware of the facts constantly repeated for my benefit, that gravity is not a source of energy. Fine! You believe that if you want to. Bessler's machine worked; he stated that the weights themselves were the PM device; that means that they needed gravity to work, because weights are inseparable from the effects of gravity. Now you may say that gravity cannot provide a force, but falling weights can and do. So the force comes from the weights which respond to the effects of gravity. A simple weight-driven clock gets its energy from falling weights - if that is not tapping the force of gravity then I don't know what is. The solution to the apparent problem of returning the weight to its starting point has been described by me in outline elsewhere and I have also solved the problem of leverage issues - which I haven't described elsewhere.
I know there will be a torrent of attempts to correct my misguided beliefs, but I shall continue on my way content in the knowledge that I am right and you are wrong. I mean those of you who persist in believing that what you have been taught about gravity is the whole truth and nothing but the truth, and insist that gravity can't be used to drive the weights which turned Bessler's wheel. :) Scientists (some of them) maintain that gravity is one of the four forces in physics, albeit the weakest one. In physics, a force is any influence that causes an object to undergo a certain change, either concerning its movement, direction, or geometrical construction. Weights fall under the influence of gravity so it must be a force.
There are other arguments which say that it depends on the theory and framework you're using. If you invoke Newton's mechanics in trying to answer why a ball falls down to earth after you throw it upward, then gravity is certainly a force. If, however, you look at the revolution of the earth around the sun in the context of Einstein's general relativity, then it is less of a force and more of the tendency of massive objects to form curves and dents in space-time.
The answer is much simpler than that - all that matters is that gravity acts like a force here on earth, regardless of how it came about.
Sunday 16 December 2012
Gottfried Leibniz has been described as a polymath. This word comes from the Greek, and means "having learned much", and it describes a person whose expertise spans a significant number of different subject areas. The term was first used in the seventeenth century.
According to wikipedia, most ancient scientists were polymaths by today's standards - what does that mean? It means that scientists these days are too specialised. The subjects we are taught are very compartmentalised. To get the best marks we choose those subjects we excel at and not necessarily those we are interested in, because the whole system is based on competition, and we compete, not only against other people but we pit one of our subjects against another.
Many who attend University seek a degree in their best subject because it is the one in which they obtained the highest exam marks. They study to become expert in that field with the result that they know everything (they think) there is to know about it. At first sight this makes sense, but it is to the detriment of a wider general knowledge, and unfortunately there is no advantage, career-wise, in learning about allied subjects and certainly nothing about those which have no connection with it. They are experts within a very narrow field, consequently they know relatively little about matters outside their speciality.
On the other hand, for instance, Leibniz, a member of the Royal Society. invented a calculating machine, wrote an overview of the history of the earth, describing how the planet formed, subterranean fires, and the formation of fossils. He developed an explanation of matter known as Monadology, suggesting that any substances were individually 'programmed' to act in a predetermined way but which could not affect the preservation of free will. He made significant contributions in physics, logic, history, librarianship, and of course philosophy and theology, while also working on ideal languages, mechanical clocks and mining machinery. He also studied numerous aspects of Chinese culture!
Leibniz was of course, the most famous supporter of Johann Bessler. Another supporter, almost as celebrated, was Christian Wolff, a rationalist polymath and an influential leader of the early German Enlightenment. He pioneered socio-economics, and made lasting contributions to international law. He revived ontology as a systematic framework for the empirical sciences. He studied and taught mathematics and researched military architecture, natural history, and natural philosophy. He had a natural aptitude for mechanics according to one correspondent and of course he too, was a member of the commission which examined Bessler's Merseberg wheel- and of the Royal Society.
These men who examined Bessler's machine were not just experts in a particular field but were people whose knowledge spanned a significant number of different subject areas, giving them a wider knowledge base upon which to form an opinion about Bessler's machine. They were able to make the intellectual connections and accept the evidence of their eyes in a way that today's 'experts' would find challenging.
To have an in-depth knowledge about one aspect of a particular subject may deprive one of its wider ramifications, not through lack of general knowledge so much as an excess of knowledge about that one aspect. In trying to solve Bessler's wheel, we here, seek answers from a more generalised knowledge base, examining every possibility and excluding nothing, whereas 'experts' know that Bessler's claims are not possible because that is what they have been taught and they are either reluctant or incapable of re-examining their 'knowledge'. This may be due to peer pressure, fear of ridicule, or simply a feeling of smug moral superiority derived from a sense that their beliefs, actions, or affiliations are of greater virtue than those of the average person.
But not all 'experts' need to be highly educated scientists. They may have a prolonged or intense experience through practice and education in a particular field. In specific fields, the definition of expert is well established by consensus and therefore it is not necessary for an individual to have a professional or academic qualification for them to be accepted as an expert. In this respect, a shepherd with 50 years of experience tending flocks would be widely recognized as having complete expertise in the use and training of sheep dogs and the care of sheep. I consider myself something off an expert with regard to Bessler and his claims but I have no university degree in either mechanics or history, just the experience of forty years of engineering. I do not know that Bessler's wheel was impossible therefore I continue to work at it.
Thanks as ever to wikipedia. :)
Wednesday 12 December 2012
I've been interested in Johann Bessler and his wheel since I was about fifteen years of age, when I read Rupert Gould's account of him in his book 'Oddities'. At that time I dreamed of the possibility of building a similar machine, however I knew already that science said they were impossible, I dreamed and speculated and drew hundreds of designs, but I said nothing to anybody.
At the age of about 28 I chanced upon a copy of Gould's book, 'Oddities', and I was struck anew by the quality of the narrative and the evidence described and how utterly convincing it was. I resolved to research the subject as thoroughly as possible even if it took me the rest of my life. In the intervening years I occasionally told people about him and about my ambition to reconstruct his wheel - and quickly got used to the scorn and laughter which erupted at my articulated aspirations! It seemed to me that Gould himself was sufficiently fascinated by the story to do some research and in my opinion became convinced of the inventor's sincerity.
But Gould was not alone; I've always thought how remarkable it was that Henry Dircks, author of the two compact volumes detailing the history of the seach for Perpetual Motion, should have spent some twenty years researching every single mention of the subject and reproducing them in his books, complete with drawings of numerous failed designs. Then there is Arthur Ord-Hume's book on the subject, another accountof the history of such machines. Like Dircks, Ord-Hume was an engineer, and like Gould wrote extensively on antique clocks and other mechanisms. Was it simply interest that drove these authors to spend years researching the subject - or was there a discreet longing to believe; to discover the secret apparently found only by Johann Bessler?
John Rowley was another one. He was Master of Mechanics to King George 1st and held a reputation as the finest instrument maker in England, and praised as such by none other John Harris, inventor of the Marine Chronometer which eventually won the prize offered by the British Board of Longitude for providing a means for finding a ship's longitudinal position at sea. Rowley spent his remaining years trying to duplicate Bessler's wheel having seen it during a visit to Kassel.
These men, all experts in their fields, seem to have been drawn to studying Perpetual Motion, and even if some of them declared their scepticism publicly, I have a feeling that privately they were not so cynical and perhaps yearned to discover that there was a way to achive the impossible.
My own suspicion that the historical accounts were wrong in assigning Bessler to the ranks of the fraudulent and the criminal, was first roused when I read Gould's account of the reported actions of Bessler's maid. She stated under oath that she was forced to turn the wheel by means of a secret lever from the adjoining bedroom. I simply did not believe that it was possible to turn a wheel measuring twelve feet in diameter and eighteen inches thick, by means of a simple system of levers which she said, applied their force to the quarter inch bearings at the ends of the axle. As if this wasn't enough she also claimed that she was able to turn the wheel which lifted the 70 poinds weight from the castle yard to the roof several times!
One of the problems we seem to encounter regularly is the intransigence of all those we ask to reconsider the evidence. No one will do that because they believe it would counter certain physical laws - it won't, but until the reason is explained and made clear they will continue to dismiss all such claims.
To repeat myself - only a working model will do it.
Wednesday 5 December 2012
I've mentioned Karl's involvement with Denis Papins before, but something occurred to me recently and I thought I'd post my thoughts here. Prior to Bessler's arrival Karl had funded the experiments of Denis Papin who was attemting to develop a steam engine. Papin stayed with the Landgrave for ten years, finally leaving, having been invited to London in 1707, he died there in 1712.
During his stay in Kassel, in 1704, he constructed a ship powered by his steam engine, mechanically linked to paddles. This made him the first to construct a steam-powered boat. How successful it was we don't know, but I suspect that it wasn't the complete solution Papin envisaged. He left his wife at Kassel when he went to London, possibly thinking he might return in the near future, and I've found a letter written in 1708, referring to Karl's hope that Papin would return to Kassel to continue his experiments. I suggest that it was perhaps news of Papin's death in 1712 that persuaded Karl to accommodate Bessler in his castle at that time. Curiously it was also this year that Newcomen exhibited his first Newcoment steam engine at Dudley castle in England.
Fischer von Erlach examined Bessler's wheel and must have been invited to the court by Karl - they couldn't just turn up uninvited. Professor 'sGravesend was also invited and I had always assumed that they were there to examine Bessler's wheel, but taking into account the fact that Papin had carried out experiments on the lake near to the castle, to build a steam-powered boat, I suspect they were there for another purpose. Leibniz had aided Papin in the development of a steam engine based on an invention by Thomas Savery, but this had proved problematic to construct. Details of the engine were published in 1707.
Both 'sGravesende and von Erlach, and indeed Desaguliers, were closely involved in the development of Captain Savery's engine, but this was eventually dropped in favour of the more powerful and reliable Newcomen steam engine. I suspect that Karl was motivated by thoughts of adapting either Newcomen's or Savery's engine to power the boat. To this end he sent Captain Weber to England in 1716 to obtain information on the Newcomen steam-engine, and he is also recorded as being the leader of the surveying team for a projected series of canals which were to enable Karlshafen to become an inland port. He was Karl's chief engineer and was charged with the task of draining the marshes to create canals. But Captain weber's efforts to try to learn the secrets of the Newcomen engine came to no avail, they were just as secretive as Bessler was.
Steam-powered boats? new canals? Steam engines? Put them together and knowing that the cascade at Kassel was powered by four man-made lakes above the start of the cascade, and therefore did not require Bessler's wheel to pump water to the top, and you have the beginnings of an attempt to produce steam-powered boats designed to ply the canals bringing goods to and from Karlshafen. Perhaps Karl had considered the possibility of trying to adapt Bessler's wheel for use in a boat?
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