Saturday, 14 May 2022

Why did Bessler Use Embedded Codes?

It seems clear enough that Bessler had always intended to insert coded information embedded within his publications, because by applying a simple code to his name, Orffyre in place of Bessler, he draws our attention like a magnet to see what else is to be found. He adopted his pseudonym immediately he began to exhibit his first wheel at Gera, and we can infer that he was following a carefully thought out plan of action. Even his first publication Grundlicher Bericht contains a number of ciphers, and a large variety of codes becomes apparent in his subsequent publication Apologia Poetica.   Even his last and most impressive work, Das Triumphirende follows the same trajectory, containing a number of pieces information veiled in innocent looking text.

So the question is, why?  What reason prompted him to spend what must have occupied his mind for many hours, presumably also at the same times as working on his wheels?  He was certainly fascinated by ciphers of all kind, having been taught about them by the Jesuit priest and the Rabbi he met in Prague.  I have argued that the information was embedded in all his publications in case he was forced to prove his priority in designing a perpetual motion machine, but this would not be necessary if he had sold his machine and he certainly expected to do so. If, as happened, he didn’t sell it, perhaps he needed the proof of his precedence if someone else demonstrated the secret before he had acquired a buyer. Even then what possible benefit to him would that be?  Ultimately he hinted that he would prefer to die without selling it than give it away while he still lived.

He sought fame and fortune, and some might suggest that perhaps the fortune part was not as important as the fame, but I don’t think so.  The sum of money he asked for was huge.  He wanted acknowledgement of his discovery and even if someone else won the prize, Bessler could still prove he was first in the search for a successful perpetual motion machine.  But he must have had a plan to provide the means of either deciphering his clues and codes, or publishing a full explanation showing how to unravel them. Yet the codes and ciphers are so obscure as to practically defeat the efforts of most people, so we are left with the same question - why?

I think that the whole field of codes, ciphers, secret messages, chronograms, alphabetic substitutions, alphanumerics etc, absolutely fascinated him and he was an inveterate showman, performer and egotist.  Perhaps he looked forward to explaining to his future rapt audience how he cleverly hid all the information needed to build his machine, under the very eyes of those who sought out his secret. 

JC

5 comments:

  1. "So the question is, why? What reason prompted him to spend what must have occupied his mind for many hours, presumably also at the same times as working on his wheels?"

    I think he was well aware of the real possibility that he might die before his wheel invention was sold and after he had destroyed some previous one he had build in which case there would be no instructions left for how to reproduce one. If that happened, it would mean that all of his years of work and struggle would have amounted to nothing because there would never be any future reproductions made that would prove that he actually had something that worked.

    If anyone remembered him at all, it would be as a liar who was able to make convincing fake pm wheels that could fool even careful examiners during official tests and who hoped to make a fortune by selling one of them to someone who thought it was genuine. That must have been a very depressing fate for him to consider. So his solution was to hide the mechanical details of his wheels in his published books. The best place would be to put them in the drawings. But, good luck finding and decoding them.

    jason

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    1. Thanks Jason. I think you have made an excellent point.

      JC

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    2. I have often thought that he might have left a clue to deciphering some of his coded text in/on the tombstone in his garden at Karlshafen. He did request permission from the authorities to be buried there, and perhaps he designed some clever inscription to be included on the headstone. However, a correspondent who followed up a request from myself to look into the whereabouts of his garden, told me that the garden had been transformed into a carpark and covered with tarmac. I also received a letter suggesting that Bessler might have been buried in the forest as was customary in those days when the deceased was very poor.

      JC

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  2. I have a view that there had been a working wheel earlier than 1712 that was shown publicly, due to an accusation that the worked because of witchcraft he had to run for his life, it was then that he decided to code the information on the mechanism in case that happened again the next he showed the wheel publicly and if he was recognized from what happened earlier, it was then that he then started researching how to code information .

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    1. Wow, another good point of view. I had forgotten about the witchcraft accusation.

      JC

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Why did Bessler Use Embedded Codes?

It seems clear enough that Bessler had always intended to insert coded information embedded within his publications, because by applying a s...