Simulating A Real Perpetual Motion Device

Perpetual motion and notions of ‘free energy’ devices are some of those pseudo-science topics that seem to perpetually hang around, no matter how many times it is explained how this would literally violate the very fabric of the Universe. Even so, the very notion of a device which repeats the same action over and over with no obvious loss of energy is tempting enough that the laws of physics are employed to effect the impossible in a handy desktop format. This includes the intriguing model demonstrated by [Steve Mould] in a recent video, including a transparent version that reveals the secret.

This particular perpetual motion simulator is made by [William Le] and takes the form of metal balls that barrel down a set of metal rails which turn upward so that each metal ball will land back where it started in the top bowl. To the casual informed observer the basic principle ought to be obvious, with magnetism being a prime candidate to add some extra velocity to said metal ball. What’s less obvious is the whole mechanism that makes the system work, including the detection circuit and the tuning of the parameters that tell the device when its electromagnet should be on or off.

When [Steve] figured that he could just make a transparent version using the guts from the one he purchased, he quickly found out that even with [William]’s help, this wasn’t so easy. Ultimately [William] hand-crafted a transparent version that shows the whole system in its entire glory, even if this is somewhat like demonstrating a magic trick in an easy to follow manner.

25 thoughts on “Simulating A Real Perpetual Motion Device

    1. As opposed to “can’t get my hands on this because inventor is busy hand-crafting one piece every several days”. Of course I wish inventors would have more money from their ideas, but it’s manufacturability which matters.

  1. My favorite perpetual motion simulator is the Atmos self winding clock. No batteries. They use tiny variations in atmospheric pressure to wind the clock. They have been made for many decades. I have a 60 year old one.

      1. I actually found one being auctioned on eBay that was local to me during early Covid, and managed to snag it for a surprisingly reasonable price compared to the prices for new. It clearly was a work anniversary award to someone as it still has the two rivet holes but the plaque was removed. The case is only about 6.5/10 but the actual clock had been serviced locally and runs perfectly, if a touch fast (easily remedied once I feel like stopping and opening it).

        My grandfather had one as a work anniversary award, and as a child I wrote a letter to them and got their slick brochure. Forty plus years on I knew I had to get one when I learned that the gifting and the Internets had set up a nice lower-cost market for them.

        Like anything else on the used market it pays to be patient and do a lot of homework before buying. The mechanism can be delicate, but if a couple main rules are followed it is very robust.

        IIRC, like Seth’s, I think mine is quite old – a bit older than I am even. What a machine!

    1. My brother got one for Christmas when they first came out. After a week mom pulled the plug on it…. because at noon and especially at midnight it sounded like a bowling alley…. 😄

  2. There’s always that guy who you explain to him that free energy machines are bullshit because of very basic and well-established physics and he hits you with “well they doubted Galileo too!” and “They used to think that breaking the speed of sound was impossible but they were wrong!” and then you break his nose

    1. You probably couldn’t break an old chopstick much less someone’s nose 😂

      7 (Supposedly) Impossible Scientific Achievements
      Heavier-than-air Flight. …
      Space Exploration. …
      Computers and the Internet. …
      Bioengineering. …
      Nuclear Technologies (and Splitting the Atom) …
      The Internal Combustion Engine. …

      Why get angry because somebody wants to try?

      Why do you care so much that somebody wants to attempt the impossible?

      1. Being unable to do something doesn’t mean it’s impossible. For example: we know cold fusion is possible because it happens. We don’t know why or how, but quantum tunneling is observable.

        If you’re going to try to make this argument, be more selective about your examples. Why? Anyone that’s been outside their dwelling in the last several million years can see heavier-than-air flight isn’t impossible. Depending on the cleanliness of the dwelling, they might not even need to go outside it.

        I’m a believer that nothing is impossible outside proving something impossible, but we need somewhere to start. Unfortunately for those trying to prove perpetual motion, we’ve always been able to find the reason an object is moving.

      2. Nobody thought heavier than sir flight was impossible we have observed birds forever.yhry very obviously heavier than sir. All the rest have similar problems.

        There is nothing left to be discovered concerning pm devices. There is an infinite number of other things to be discovered

  3. I want to make a version that pumps current through the ball via the rails, subtly accelerating it along the entire track via the electromagnetic force used in railguns. It would probably get sparky and be pretty power hungry, but if this could be mitigated, it could have a transparent base be even more opaque as to where the energy is being added.

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