Monday, 14 January 2019
If Johann Bessler had Sold his Perpetual Motion Machine.
I wonder what changes might have occured to the world in which we live if Bessler had sold his machine. There were only two potential purchasers; the first being Karl the Landgrave of Hesse-Kassel, and the other, Peter the Great, Czar of Russia. There was a third, the Baron Anton von Mannsberg, Bessler’s landlord in later years, who ordered the inventor to build another copy of his machine, but once again circumstances beyond his control prevented the examination of the model and it was finally lost to us.
Karl was a clever man, intensely interested in the latest discoveries in science theory and fact. He financed research into astronomy and numerous other areas of the burgeoning field of scientific investigation, as well as his steam experiments with Denis Papin. Despite his initial interest in Bessler's machine he was more interested in Newcomen’s steam engine and I think he knew Bessler’s wheel would not do to pump water up the 300 metres necessary to feed the cascade. The fact that Newcomen's machine would not have coped either, was probably realised quite quickly as reservoirs for collecting water at the top of the hill were planned before his death and they are still functioning today.
But Peter, the Czar, was another who looked into the future and sought help in every field of science and technology. He was on his way to examine Bessler’s wheel when he died. Professor Christian Wolff had been invited to St Petersburg to head up the university recently founded by Peter and one of Wolff’s requirements was that he be involved in developing Bessler’s wheel. So both potential purchasers failed to complete.
Peter was the best chance of securing the machine for future generations and would have succeeded in developing a useful version with Wolff's help. Despite the much more powerful machine designed and built by Thomas Newcomen, Bessler's wheel was so much cheaper and more easily constructed, and given the poor state of technology in Russia at that time, it is likely that Bessler's machine would have thrived. During the subsequent 300 years it is inconceivable that new uses and developments would not have ocurred.
Elsewhere, the year 1701 saw the opening of the Navigation School in tMoscow; in 1715 it was moved to St. Petersburg, where it became the foundation for the Navy Academy. Later it was followed with Engineering, Artillery and Medical schools.
The St. Petersburg Academy opened on the initiative of Peter I in 1725 and played a great role in formation and development of the Russian science. Originally the Academy was mostly based on foreign scientists such as Professor Christian Wolff, who were willing to work in Russia.
It is clear that Bessler's machine would have become something of a workhorse in areas unsuited to the development of the much more complex Newcomen machine. But what if any, form would it take today and for what purpose?
I would have thought that given the introduction of electricity to Russia in 1876, when the first power station was built, and in 1879 electric street lighting was installed in St. Petersburg, (only a year or two after the the USA, France and England), it would not have taken long for the same development process which was happening around the world, to have taken place in Russia too.
Who knows what additional uses might have been discovered which might have pushed some of the later inventions into a lower position iin the world of technology?
I don't wish to go over old ground too often but here are a few of my previous blog referring to alternative used for Bessler's wheel.
Friday, 27 July 2018
Wednesday, 30 March 2016
Friday, 6 March 2015
Thursday, 2 August 2012
Wednesday, 16 November 2011
Friday, 15 January 2010
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