Thursday, 21 August 2014

Procrastination can still lead to Success.

I sometimes wonder what effect solving the question of Bessler's wheel would have on me.  Whether I found the solution or someone else did, a large part of my mental activity would be no longer be required and I would probably set off on some other quest just to occupy my inner self. The reason seems to be related to the pleasure we get from successfully solving a problem, whether it be playing computer games, or playing patience or doing crosswords.  The act of solving the problem is more enjoyable than simply being given the answer.

As an example consider this riddle:-

A prisoner is put in a room with 2 doors. 1 door leads to freedom, the other to exececution.

Next to the doors are 2 guards. One of the guards always lies, the other always tells the truth. The prisoner is allowed to ask one of the guards one question to figure out what door leads where. What does he ask?

Everyone wants to work out the answer themselves and are reluctant to give up until frustration overwhelms them and they have to ask for the answer.  In our case, of course we can't ask anyone for the solution until someone solves it first - or one of us does.  The answer to the above riddle is logical and can be arrived at with some simple trial and error, but sometimes it bursts upon you as insight, and you don't even know how you got it so quickly.  That kind of revelation is a familiar experience to all of us who seek the solution to Bessler's wheel.  (I'll give the answer to the riddle lower down.)

Unfortunately many of these revelations crumble to dust in the cold light of day, but the whole project is a learning process and even though we seem to be stuck in a kind of writer's block and we have run out of ideas, we can still triumph incrementally as we proceed.  So each time our designs fail it is something additional that we learned about the problem and it can be regarded as a triumph no matter how small and it is a tiny step towards the solution.  Of course it helps if you are an incurable optimist and enjoy the search for a unique design.

My own experience has been a mixture of frustration and excitement with the occasional disappointment.  But I also tend to procrastinate and that is an annoyance that appears easy to solve.  But to the millions of people who experience chronic procrastination, it can be discouraging when they are told, consciously or subconsciously:

1. It's their fault.

2. They need to stop complaining and "Just do it."

3. They are lazy or immature.

For the vast majority of chronic procrastinators, these statements are simply untrue. Almost all who suffer from this condition wish that they were productive. They have dreams and aspirations, goals and ambitions, that are destroyed by a force that is out of their control. Telling them to "just do it" or that they are lazy or undisciplined does not help.

Procrastination of this kind is a disorder, similar to obsessive compulsive disorder or a distortion of body image. Just as you cannot "blame" a person with OCD for their obsessive behavior, and tell them just to "cut it out," most techniques of curing procrastination do not work, since they amount to nothing more than simple advice: prioritize, then do it.

I find that if I need to make a simple choice such as 'shall I mow the lawn, or work on my wheel', the temptation is to go for the more rewarding choice.  So mowing the lawn is something that needs doing and provides an immediate reward, whereas working on the wheel, although capable of producing a huge reward won't be doing that so quickly.  There is also an element of psychology involved which suggests to your subconscious that leaving the wheel for another day, might delay the disappointment you may get from another failure!

So, the majority of procrastinators have these factors in common:

1. Fear of failure.
2. Frequent and temporary repression of their responsibilities, allowing them to focus instead on tasks which do not make them afraid, i.e mowing the lawn!
3. Self-conflict. Procrastinators have the belief, common in childhood, that all pleasure comes from leisure, from these "lack of responsibility tasks," while at the same time believing that it would be best if they produced and achieved at their highest standard.

With thanks to various web sites and in particular

And the answer is, "If you were the other guard, which door would you say leads to freedom?"

They will both point towards the door that leads to an execution, so you pick the other one.


The guard that always tells the truth, will be truthful/honest and say what the guard that always lies would have said, so he will point towards the execution door (that would be the answer of the "dishonest" guard).

The guard that always lies, will lie this time as well, and won't answer what the other guard would answer, so he would also point towards the execution door (that wouldn't be the answer of the "honest" guard, and hence a lie).




  1. I will be more than happy when the Bessler wheel mystery is solved so I can finally get this "bug" out of my brain and move onto other projects. There will always be mysteries in the universe in need of solutions, but that does not mean I have to find those solutions. I am only one person with limitations. I've taken on the challenge of Bessler's wheels based on a book I read decades ago. At the time I had absolutely no idea of the enormous amount of effort that would be required to make any real progress in the subject. The Bessler wheel mystery is not just any old mystery like the two door dilemma you posted, rather it is actually the "Mt. Everest of Mysteries". When it's solved, I will have many other things to do that I've had on hold for years and which I am eager to turn my attention to. I'm only a few days away now from knowing if I've got it or not. I'm not procrastinating about the final testing. Just had a ton of other things pop up that required my immediate attention. I should know by the end of this week...maybe early next week. Yes, this could finally be it...that light at the end of a long tunnel. Let's just hope that it's not the headlight on an express train!

    1. Ken,
      I procrastinated a while, then John had time to change the subject !
      I checked out the history of coiled springs, and you are right about the dates.
      But, I think you'll find that in M.T. 60, they are not coil springs, they are concertina like bellows with weights on the end, which are blown outwards when the weighted arms squeeze the storks beak bellows.

    2. As a friend mine once said about something that he failed to complete on time, "I was going to procrastinate about it, but I never got around to doing that (the procrastination, that is)!" Conducting research into perpetual motion wheels forces one to be between a rock and a hard place. On the one hand, if you goof off too much, you have no chance of making any progress and of someone else who is less lazy making the big discovery before you do. Perish the thought. On the other hand, if you really hustle you run the risk of wearing yourself out mentally and physically with nothing to show for it but a string of failed designs that don't work. One has to find that just right balance of laziness and industriousness that allows him to make as much progress as possible without becoming too burned out in the process. It's not an easy balance to find. I was supposed to have found the secret of Bessler's wheels years ago, but here I am still not to the point of being able to claim success. Well, maybe in the next week or so.

      I did look again at MT 60 and I still think they are helical springs and not concertina-like bellows as you believe. If they were such bellows then they would have to have had very unusual cores that would allow metal rods to slide up and down inside of them while still keeping them air tight as they expanded and collapsed.

    3. STEVO and Ken,

      Are you both talking about different parts within MT60. The objects inside the inner-ring do look like bellows, and the radially pointing objects in the outer-ring (along with the weights) look like helical springs.

    4. Zoelra,
      I'm not talking about the "fireside bellows", I'm talking about the spring looking things.
      I realize now what the problem is, they are bellows, but they have a coiled spring framework !
      So we are both right. :-D
      Another problem is, in the drawings by Bill McMurthy , they are somewhat stylized and have parallel coils, but in Bessler's drawings they are tapered, and look slightly different, so it's no wonder there's some confusion.
      I came to my conclusion as to what they are by imagining what the squeezed fireside bellows would do, and why the weights on the same side were out, and then saw that the weights on the opposite side were sucked in when the fireside bellows are open.
      I still cannot see the steel rods through the middle of the spring/bellow, despite enlarging both Bessler's and Bill's drawings as much as possible.
      For Bessler's drawings, I used the Uni- Tech site

    5. Sorry !
      that's the Uni - Kassel site....... oops!

    6. STEVO,

      I have a digital copy of MT and I see what you are saying about the tapering of the spring looking things. They are quit long and seem to compress down really far. If they were springs, you might expect them to be tapered so the coils fit inside one another allowing for a greater compression. If they were bellows with wire spring supports inside, I guess the same holds true.

    7. This comment has been removed by the author.

    8. zoelra,
      I guess we'll never know what they really are, unless someone builds a working wheel that incorporates them, but personally, I don't think Bessler used pneumatics in his wheel.
      I did however make a similar wheel that used a cord to move small weights in/out, instead of bellows.
      The cord was run around the chamber, and a small weight attached in the middle, the weighted arm also being attached to the cord at the tip, moved the small weight like raising/lowering a flag.
      Needless to say it didn't work !
      The reason being that the large weighted arms find their place of rest, and the small weights are not strong enough to move them.

    9. I've taken another look at MT 60 and, again, I still think those tapered springs are just that: tapered springs (which are not obvious in McMurthy's version). They are compressed by the opening of the bellows at the 6 o'clock position of this counter clockwise rotating wheel and expand at the 12 o'clock position as the bellows close again and the ball weight levers attached to them fall to the left. The mechanical linkage between the tapered springs and the bellows is not clear in the illustration and, apparently, would have been explained by Bessler in his notes for the figure which, unfortunately, were never completed. Possibly those little knobs at the outer end of each tapered spring are a way of attaching a rope to them which is then pulled as the spring expands. That rope's other end might have been directly attached to the ball weight lever to assist in pulling it over to the left as it passed the 12 o'clock position. What's important in MT 60 is that Bessler is using springs to store energy from one side of the wheel (the bottom in this case) and then use it later on the other side (the top side here) to assist in the shifting of the ball weight lever. It's also possible that the opposing bellows are pneumatically connected in this design although that is not clear either. If so, then the decompression of the air in the opening bellows on the bottom side would be used to immediately close the bellows on the top side. Again, Bessler would be trying to manipulate the flow of energy within the wheel in order to keep the center of mass of the ball weights at the ends of the long levers to one side of the axle which, in this case, would be the left side that is the descending side.

      @STEVO, I had to delete and redo my post above because I messed up what happens to the bellows at the 12 o'clock position. They close there. I do agree with you that Bessler did not use pneumatics inside of his wheels. That was a hypothesis advanced by Leibniz in an effort to explain how Bessler's wheels could run continuously. At the time they were just starting to play around with highly compressed air and realized it could be used as a compact power supply. However, from personally testing Bessler's wheels, Leibniz quickly realized that hypothesis was not correct.

  2. For crying out loud, John. Not only do you procrastinate working on your wheel project, but you waste time blogging about your procrastination, too?!

    Here's my friendly suggestion. :-)
    [pretend there's a pocket watch swinging to and fro in front of your eyes]

    Decide to dedicate a set amount of time each week, just to spend in the workshop - 20, 40, 60 minutes... whatever. Treat it with the same importance that you would an appointment with a doctor - you know, can't not do it.

    Each Sunday (for example), pick a day in the upcoming week that you have the least commitments, and assign your "work on the wheel" time-slot! Set a reminder alarm on your wristwatch if you have to.

    And make up a sign to hang on the shop door - Genius at work, do not disturb.

    Summer only lasts so long.

    1. Hey, John?
      I just came to see if you responded to my comment [not that you really need to], and I see that something quite important is missing. When I composed it in a text editor before logging on to submit it, it was all one big paragraph. In the act of editing it apart, I apparently edited out the grin-emoticon [ :D ] that I had at the end of the first section [right after "too?!"]. I meant those first two sentences as a joking poke in the ribs, not as anything mean or derogatory.
      I sorry if it came across the wrong way. There's no mockery involved in any of the post.
      - Mark

    2. I did see your comment Mark, and no offense taken, I was just too occupied with other things to find time to respond at that time.

      I am not really as bad as I may have seemed and actually the approach of yet another birthday, no matter how far away it is (February), has given me a much needed kick up the backside, because it['s a biggy..... my birthday not my backside! So procrastination has been severely curtailed!


    3. John, one of my goals, besides clearing Bessler of the suspicion of being a fraudster, is to also help rapidly "maturing" folks like you (and me, of course) finally see the solution before it's too late. It would be a real pity if we spent as much time as we did with this subject without getting that satisfaction in our one and only lifetimes on planet Earth. We deserve that satisfaction.

  3. I remember reading that some of Bessler's wheels had metal pegs or rods sticking out the ends of the wooden axle, and that those pegs sat in exposed bearings. I guess this was done to show there was no connection to the mounting stand after his maid claimed someone was turning the wheels from another room.

    I'm not sure though if the axles in his earlier wheels (before the accusation) were fixed to the wheels and rotated with the wheels, or the axles were fixed to the mounting stands and the wheels turned on axles.

    Does anyone know if there is any evidence or writings regarding the axles on his early wheels?

    1. There were tapered steel pegs or pivots that extended out of the ends of his axles and which sat on open brass plates or journals. I think he had a way of completely enclosing these with another piece so that the axle would not roll itself off of the plates during wheel rotation should the axle start vibrating. In all of his wheels the drum part was firmly attached to the axle and they turned together. We have the most info about the Merseberg and Kassel wheels, but I think it's safe to assume that his earlier wheels were just smaller versions of these.

    2. I need to slightly correct that last reply. Yes, the earlier than Merseberg wheels were smaller versions, but they were only one directional whereas the Merseberg and Kassel were two directional. This feature can be very confusing to the student of Bessler and might lead to the conclusion that he actually had two different designs that produced pm. I am not convinced of that. I think that, to make a two directional wheel, he just put two one directional wheels on the same axle and then equipped each of its one directional wheels with extra mechanisms that would, once the two directional wheel was given a push, stop the retrograde running wheel from contributing to the torque driving the axle. This might sound like something very hard to do, but I discovered that it's actually very simple, however, the mechanism responsible requires precise adjustment to make it work properly. At this point in my research I believe I have the complete details of this "extra" mechanism.

  4. Ken, you could be right. Still it would be nice to have a timeline of events, namely when the accusations by the maid were made, the arrest, showing of the exposed axle ends to confirm no connections between wheel and supports existed, and the introduction of the two-way wheels.

    Had the axles of the one-way wheels not turned with the drum, then they were fixed to the supports and could have provided an anchor points for many things, such as for flipping levers at the correct angular position, or to replace an artificial horizon. Loss of this feature (fixed axle) could have resulted in a design change that eliminated the self-starting nature of his wheel, which by chance would have been needed by the two-way wheels anyway. All just conjecture of course ...

  5. I certainly would like to read English translations of any transcripts that might exist from Bessler's trial for fraud. Maybe John has access to them and intends to publish them at some future time. Also, I don't think there is any doubt about the axles turning independently of their vertical supports. If they had been fixed to the verticals in any way, then that would have raised the immediate suspicions of those examining the wheels during their various test. There is much documentation that the ends of the axles terminated with protruding steel pegs or pivots that rested on bearing plates. The drums were definitely attached to the axles and turned with them.

    There's something else about the maid's testimony that seems ridiculous to me. She claimed that Bessler's wheels were turned by a barb or hook at the end of a metal rod that was then made to go up and down inside a hollowed out vertical support and which was "pumped" by a mechanism in an adjoining room. In the case of the test of the Kassel wheel all adjoining rooms to the room containing the wheel were inspected prior to the test and nothing amiss was found. I assume that included the rooms immediately above and below the room containing the wheel. If such a mechanism was present, then it would have had to have had some sort of complex and extensive linkage to a room distant from the room containing the wheel.

    Also, has anybody wondered just how the barb on that alleged rod engaged the steel peg at the end of the wheel's axle? There would have had to have been some sort of notches or grooves cut into the sides of the pegs for the barb to get a grip on. Those pegs were closely examined and no such notches were found.

    1. Bessler was arrested because of the maid's assertions but was never tried and was released without charge because Karl knew he was innocent of the accusation.


    2. Thanks for clearing that up, John. With someone like Count Carl on one's side, he'd probably have to commit multiple murders in broad daylight in front of a crowd to ever wind up in a court of law! But, I'm sure that the arrest really shook Bessler up. He then realized that it might be possible for various authorities to seize one of his wheels or his sketches showing how to construct one based on a pack of lies one of his detractors dreamt up. If he was paranoid to start with, that realization would only have made him more so. Too bad he never got his just reward for his efforts so that, today, we would know how those wheels worked with absolute certainty. I think if he had sold the invention, our world today might be very much different.

    3. Bessler wrote a 60 page defense against the charge but unfortunately they are only notes and basically illegible, although I have a contact in Germany who has managed to read some of it. It lists a number of people who Bessler calls his enemies who have plotted against him ever since he left Kassel castle. They and they are mainly composed of his in-laws; his mother-in-law, two sisters-in-law and their husbands plus some other his erstwhile maid, her new husband and some other equally unsavory characters. They applied pressure to get him to divert funds from his work as Commercial Councilor to their pockets. There is so much more, but space and time prevent.


    4. This comment has been removed by the author.

    5. The maid was obviously working for someone out to discredit Bessler. If the bearings were in plain site and open to inspection, it is hard to image anyone making a claim that there was a hidden connection between the wheel and support when it could so easily be shown to be false. Surely in that time there were repercussions to making frivolous false claims, e.g., beheading, disemboweling, burning at the state, ... .

      My guess is that prior to the accusation and Bessler's arrest, the bearings were not under scrutiny, and the need to eliminate any doubt is what prompted Bessler to change the axle design, and the two-way wheels followed as a result. Again just my opinion without any facts to back up the claim either way.

    6. @Zoelra. Bessler's two directional wheels were introduced, probably, about a decade before his arrest. You can believe that their bearings were, during the "official" tests, subjected to very close examination. Bessler introduced the two directional wheels because some of his detractors were spreading a rumor that, because his wheels were only one directional, that somehow proved that they used a wind up clockwork mechanism to power them since such movements usually only turn the clock's hands in one direction.

      Anyway, a bit of bad news from me. Early this morning I tested my latest and most advanced model for Bessler's wheel and it failed. Yet another disappointment, but, as Thomas Edison once noted, we often learn more from our failures than from our successes! Upon performing a post mortem on the test, I realized that it really did come close to working...actually closer than ever before. The problem seems to be a single spring attachment location on the levers which may not be correctly placed. I'm checking the clues to see if I misinterpreted where this spring is supposed to be attached. If so I'll modify the lever and give it another try. Should know in a few more days.

  6. A decade you say ... well that throws my idea out the window. Thanks for the info.

    Sorry to hear about the failure, but as you say, it is a learning experience.


Johann Bessler’s Legacies.

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