Zyra homepage //// Inventors' resources //// Site Index
Engines of Free Energy
If you have invented a perpetual motion machine, you are probably sick of hearing all the sceptics saying how it's impossible and how it can't possibly work. Well, here's a different approach.
The thing about perpetual motion machines, whether they be an unbalanced wheel, or a magnetic motor, or a capillary based idea, or a combination of wind and motion, etc, is that for the inventor the idea seems very plausible, and yet for the folks who haven't invented it, it seems unlikely. There is a way to find out who's right, and that's to BUILD IT.
There's no point in arguing about the theory, because modern science has some well established principles which work for most situations, and these things are written as Laws of Physics. However, at no point in history has the version of the Laws of Physics been complete, so, you may find you have discovered something new. However, be warned, your invention and its principle shouldn't invalidate previous observations. For example, when Albert Einstein discovered that the laws of motion in the universe were quite different from those discovered by Isaac Newton, this didn't overturn Newton's laws of motion, but made them more approximately true in more limited environments.
Another reason to avoid arguing about the theory, is that many true and valid ideas can be destroyed by sceptical argument. Your ability to win or lose in a debating society has nothing much to do with the correctness of your premise. That's because it's not a philosophical discussion where truth is considered in an open-minded way.
However, despite the difficulties of "theory", there's nothing quite as convincing as a practical demonstration. If you build your perpetual motion machine and people come to visit you for a cup of tea, they may find it difficult to dismiss as "impractical" a machine which is running, powering the lights, and making the teaspoons in their teacups rattle.
I am Zyra , and I have written this page as advice to inventors of perpetual motion machines. (I also have a page about Inventor Resources for inventors of a more general kind). Although I am a scientist, I also believe that there are things about the universe which are currently unexplained, and some of those things are decidedly suspicious.
Having said that, there are some principles of the laws of physics which have been observed to work in all observed situations so far, so if your perpetual motion invention differs, it has to be doing something that is so radically different that it can get around this problem.
The problems which most ideas for perpetual motion machines (of the first kind) have is... the first law of thermodynamics. That's the one that says energy can't be created or destroyed. This was unknown a long while ago, (at a time when alchemy sought to change base metals into gold, before in chemistry it was found that elements are unaffected by low-energy reactions). In those old times, it was quite believable that it could be possible to construct a machine with an wheel that would overbalance and produce energy forever, or that water could be pumped uphill for less energy than it could generate by hydro-power going downhill. Nowadays, it is regarded scientifically that energy can move from place to place and can change from one form to another, but will not appear from nowhere as a result of a basic mechanical device.
Therefore, if your perpetual motion machine is a basic on-the-bench apparatus, there needs to be a good reason why it doesn't fit with the first law of thermodynamics. However, if you build the machine and it works, then that will settle much of the criticism in regard of "the first law of thermodynamics".
As well as building the machine and showing that it works, even to some extent in some situations, you may discover extra things, and some of those things may be very useful. Even if, in the end, the machine and principle turn out not to be perpetual motion, you may have something that's remarkable for other reasons!
Here's a worked example of a "perpetual motion machine" which critics would dismiss as silly, and yet it has a some workability and use:
Principle: When you're going along in a car, there's wind going past you. Wind is known to be a way of generating electricity by having a wind turbine. Combining these ideas together, you might consider having the car powered by an electric motor and running it off a wind turbine.
The "first law of thermodynamics" criticism: It can't possibly work because the energy you generate won't be enough to power the car.
The "working model test" defence: You get a car with an electric motor to power it and put a wind turbine on the roof and start it up. Surprisingly, it works! However, you soon discover that you can only drive against the wind. Also, on a calm day with no wind, you don't go anywhere.
Conclusion: You have a valid invention. Admittedly not perpetual motion, but nevertheless a mode of wind-powered transport that can drive directly into the wind.
Special note: By building the device, you have proved something, whereas if you just argued about the theory, you'd probably have given up, thus missing the useful discovery.
After a while, you get to be able to understand the laws of physics and to have a good idea where the problems might be in advance and so how to avoid them. For example, the illustration of a 4-way power socket plugged into itself, is only live because it's live. In practice that is not sufficient reason, and you can't get energy from it because that energy has nowhere whence to arrive. In other words, perpetual motion machines need to be better than that.
Another problem with perpetual motion ideas is that the inventor may be unaware of some particular principle in physics and therefore may devoutly believe the machine would work. The correct response is to build the machine. That should settle any dispute between the believer and the sceptics.
Perpetual Motion of the Second Kind
This may sound something to do with flying saucers, but it's actually to do with another law of physics; the second law of thermodynamics.
Whereas "Perpetual Motion of the First Kind" is against the first law of thermodynamics, "Perpetual Motion of the Second Kind" is against the second law of thermodynamics.
The second law of thermodynamics is the one which says that energy always goes from a high quality source to a low quality. Or to put it another way, it goes from high quality useful energy to low-grade energy such as background heat. The second law of thermodynamics also says that you can't turn that background heat into useful high quality energy without using up other high quality energy to do so!
I am a heretic and I don't believe that the second law of thermodynamics is correct! However, I accept that in most situations, the second law of thermodynamics can be assumed to be true. It's a bit like assuming the earth to be flat. You can get away with assuming it to be true for most applications (such as real estate). In a similar way, the second law of thermodynamics is useful for calculations and simulations for such things as heat engines (car engines etc), and more strange things such as air conditioners and fridges, which at first look as if they are more than 100% efficient.
I believe that the second law of thermodynamics is flawed because it is assumed (and it is stated as an assumption in the textbooks as assumed) that atoms are infinitesimally small. This is plainly not true. To be fair, though, atoms are very small, and it's a reasonable assumption for most situations.
Perpetual motion machines of the second kind are devices which, rather than trying to generate energy from nowhere, try to generate energy from the background. There's plenty of background energy, for example the dynamic chaos of the sea, random fluctuations in electrical fields, and brownian motion of smoke particles in air and other fluids. If you can build a machine that can generate energy from such things, it may or may not be perpetual motion, but it will be useful.
As with the perpetual motion machines of the first kind, it's important to build the machine and show it working rather than argue the theory. Remember that even if it doesn't work, if it does something interesting there may be an invention or discovery worth having.
A long while ago (in the age of alchemy), a researcher had an idea that it might be possible to create gold by getting a large quantity of urine and concentrating it so the gold-colour in the fluid could be turned into a solid. The researcher didn't succeed in creating gold, but instead discovered phosphorous! (which was an unknown element at the time).
Other historical examples of perpetual motion and/or defying the believed-in laws of the time:
In more recent times, it was discovered that it was possible to generate energy from elements that were radioactive. This, nuclear power, became quite fashionable for a while. It is a fact that atomic energy goes against the early definition of the "first law of thermodynamics" because energy is being created, not from other energy, but just created! However, after this discovery, the first law of thermodynamics was adjusted to include the E=MC2 principle that energy/matter are interchangeable, and so these days nuclear power is not regarded as perpetual motion!
With the second law of thermodynamics, the background chaos whence energy might be created, is also subject to redefinition. These days, you can generate power stations' worth of energy from the chaos of the waves, and no-one will say it is perpetual motion. Nevertheless it is free energy.
I would speculated that some sort of "super refrigerator" is possible, even though currently it is believed to be impossible. The machine would cool the environment and generate useful energy from the background. If this is shown to be possible, by the construction of such a device, the laws of physics will be tweaked to cope with this.
It may also be possible to produce perpetual motion by some means or other, (of the first kind). For example, energy being generated apparently "from nowhere", but later the laws of physics are reformulated to cope with the energy coming from some other source.
The sorts of places to look for this are in non-obvious places. No-one has yet constructed an overbalanced wheel that works, or a simple process of energy conversion, etc, which is perpetual motion or even looks like perpetual motion.
So, will you be the first?!
This page is by Zyra and is part of Zyra's website which is Zyra.org.uk