Wednesday 17 December 2014

Merry Christmas and a Happy and Successful New Year!

This may be my last post until after the New Year so I would like to take this opportunity to wish every one a very Happy Christmas and a very prosperous New Year.  I know I say this every year but .... will next year, 2015, be the one in which Bessler's secret is at last discovered?

In 2012 I placed a countdown clock here in the hope it would spur people on to find the solution to Bessler's wheel in time to celebrate the 300th anniversary from its first public exhibition.  We missed it but it doesn't matter if we do it next year instead. 2015 would be a good year to celebrate.  1715 saw the introduction to the world of the Merseburg wheel, the first which could spin of its own accord in either direction thus refuting  the accusation that it was driven by clockwork.   Perhaps a successful wheel in 2015 that would be a fitting 300 year anniversary present?

I am trying to finish my current model before Christmas but things are a bit hectic so it may have to wait 'til next year before I find out if I'm any closer to the finishing line. I'm going to Florida for Christmas and hopefully the weather will be much better than here - how can it not be?! It is so relaxing not to have to run around getting ready for Christmas here, we can just chill out in Florida and enjoy the warmth!  We'll be swimming in the heated pool on Christmas day or possibly sitting in the spa with a glass of something.  

I dreamed the other night that there was a headline in a British newspaper which proclaimed, "70 year old retired British engineer discovers the secret of Perpetual Motion."  What a disappointment when I woke up and realised it was just a dream! I'll be 70 next year and I think it's high time I succeeded. I guess we all have those kind of dreams from time to time and I think they spur us on to try and make it come true.  

So will we succeed in 2015?  Any one of us could be the one and I believe we all want it to happen soon or we'll be too old to enjoy it!

There's  a book I came across the other day entitled "Wrong: Why experts keep failing us" by  David H. Freedman.  His 'experts' are, scientists, finance wizards, doctors, relationship gurus, celebrity CEOs, ... consultants, health officials and more.  Briefly he describes how, for instance a medical journal might publish the results of a study which indicate a particular finding, which is seized upon by the media and hailed as a triumph of scientific research.  Often only months later other results are published which call into question the original claims.  For reasons unclear these latter publications are ignored or treated as irrelevant and the public advised to dismiss such evidence as unreliable.

These studies were presumably carried out in a rigorous manner and designed to obtain data which  would allow careful analysis and result in the replacement of the conjecture and careless assumptions which had preceded it.  So just because some inconvenient truths emerged there was no need to ditch them in favour of the first one.

This reminds me of the assumptions made by our old friend Hermann von Helmholtz that "the perpetual motion has been demonstrated by experiment to be impossible".  How do you prove an impossibility?

Good luck in 2015!  Remember "Science is a commitment to a belief in the ignorance of experts." - Richard Feynman.



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