Johann Bessler’s Gravity Wheel

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The First Self-running Engine

A Book Review by Peter Lindemann, D.Sc.

Perpetual Motion: An Ancient Mystery Solved?

By John Collins

June 26, 2006

Most researchers interested in free energy systems rarely look back in history any farther than the work of Nikola Tesla.  Considered the “Father of Free Energy”, Tesla stands as the towering genius that ushered in the electrical age, over 100 years ago. But the study of Tesla’s work also reveals that powerful economic forces in his day prevented the introduction of his most advanced inventions.  So, we know that popular history only tells us part of the real story.

But how different would your world view be if Tesla wasn’t the first person to build working models of a machine attached to “the wheelwork of Nature?”  What if the real beginnings of today’s “free energy movement” go back not 100 years, as is popularly believed, but go back nearly 300 years?  What if a brilliant experimental genius, after years of study and model building, started demonstrating a self-turning wheel in 1712 in Europe?  What if he subsequently built and demonstrated at least four different working models during the next 10 years?  What if the machines were tested repeatedly, and even granted Certificates of Authenticity by qualified testing groups?  What if one of them ran continuously for 54 days in a sealed room?  What if the inventor’s plans to sell his machines were constantly opposed by powerful and jealous rivals who slandered him in the press?  What if, after successfully thwarting the sale of his invention during his lifetime, these same forces did everything they could to write him out of the history books after his death? Well, welcome to the real world!

This astonishing book is the account of the work of Johann Bessler, who began demonstrating his “Perpetual Motion Machine” in the town of Gera in 1712, in what is present day Germany.  John Collins has accomplished an astonishing feat by collecting all of the still existing documents that attest to these marvelous events, three centuries ago.  But he didn’t stop there. Next, he translated these documents from German and Latin into English, and studied them.  Then, finally, he shared what he learned from them with the rest of us in Perpetual Motion: An Ancient Mystery Solved? By reading this book, we are transported through the process whereby the author first discovers the truth, and then satisfies all of his own doubts by meticulously studying the lives, technical skills, and veracity of the numerous witnesses.  Perpetual Motion is much more than a simple retelling of important historic events; it is an excellent case study of how to handle an investigation of this kind properly.

Beyond the obvious subjects covered by this well written and enjoyably readable book, are the real issues of what constitutes reasonable proof, and in its absence whether it is still possible to draw proper conclusions from the preponderance of evidence. Bessler claimed he had discovered the secret of Perpetual Motion.  His detractors said it was impossible.  Hundreds of eye-witnesses said they saw the wheel turn all by itself. The machine was shown running water pumps and stamping mills for hours.  During a number of these public demonstrations, the machine was actually moved from one set of bearings to another, to “prove” that it was not driven from an external source. The academic arguments against perpetual motion continued unabated. Most people alive today have been taught that perpetual motion is impossible.

But the ancients did not believe this. They saw the world full of perpetual motions.  The sun rose every morning. The rivers always flowed. The seasons changed incessantly. They always assumed that these natural forces could be harnessed for the good of society. Most of the great philosophers, inventors, and scientists of the last 3,000 years have all designed machines in an attempt to produce and harness perpetual motion. Even today, physics books teach us that electrons are orbiting the nucleus of atoms and never stop! We are also taught that all motions are inherently perpetual, since inertia conserves 100% of momentum. So, what is the problem with believing in perpetual motion?  If we are to believe that it is happening inside every atom of matter, why can’t that unseen energy source be brought out to power our larger scale machines?

Most scientists alive today have no idea how the denial of the perpetual motion machine is enshrined in the First Law of Thermodynamics.  This corner stone of physics, which was first proposed over 100 years after Bessler’s successful achievement, was based on the assumption that since a perpetual motion machine had never been created, it probably never would be.  This idea was proposed by Hermann von Helmholtz in 1847 and ranks with the statement “heavier-than-air flying machines are impossible” by Lord Kelvin in 1895. Lord Kelvin could not know what would happen in the future, and apparently, Hermann von Helmholtz didn’t even know what had happened in the past.

The theory of energy conservation is actually nothing more than the explanation of how energy must behave IF perpetual motion is impossible.  All of these academic arguments are really about whether energy can enter a machine in unseen ways; whether apparently-closed energy systems are really and absolutely “closed” or whether they are actually still “open” to the greater environment. For anyone who believes in the open systems model, an energy source is available, and a wide variety of “perpetual motion” machines may be possible.  Since gravity penetrates all materials, it is a good candidate for an energy source that could defy the closure of an otherwise apparently-closed energy system.

So it was that Johann Bessler demonstrated how a simple, but clever arrangement of “levers and weights” could continuously place the center of gravity of a wheel to one side of the axle, causing it to turn spontaneously. In 1712, Bessler called it a Perpetual Motion Machine.  Today, we would call this invention a “gravity engine”. In the 1700’s gravity was not understood as a separate force that penetrated all objects.  But Bessler didn’t need to know this to make his machine work.  His experiments taught him everything he needed to know. Bessler did not just stumble on to his design, but also published over 140 designs of machines that he tested that did not work. His achievement proves that a systematic approach to this research could unlock the secret again.

Bessler’s gravity engine predates all other major engine designs.  James Watt’s practical steam engine was perfected in 1776.  Robert Stirling’s hot-air engine was perfected in 1826. And finally, Nikolaus Otto perfected his four-stroke internal combustion engine in 1876. Of these early engines, only Bessler’s required no fuel.

John Collins’ book is the most complete presentation of the man and his machine ever written.  Now, the evidence is in.  If you have any interest in the history of inventions, fuelless power plants, or a peaceful future with abundant energy, do yourself a favor and start your research over at the beginning.  Read Perpetual Motion: An Ancient Mystery Solved? and find out where the discovery of “free energy” really began.

John Collins’ Bessler Home Page:

Website to purchase this book, online:

Peter Lindemann, D.Sc. is Director of Research for Clear Tech, Inc. in the US. He is author of the book The Free Energy Secrets of Cold Electricity and runs the #1 website in a Google search on the term “free energy”. Peter has been involved in advanced energy research for more than 30 years and has worked and studied with Bruce DePalma, Trevor Constable, and John Bedini. He currently works as an author, consultant, and lecturer in the field.


The Scientific and Medical Network - August 2001

Perpetual Hope, Perpetual Resistance.

 By Brian O'Leary (former NASA astronaut)

The global ecological crisis demands radical changes in the way in which we use energy. Traditional renewable approaches such as solar, wind and  biomass are attractive but can be capital and materials intensive, diffuse  and intermittent. My own research and travel reveals an increasingly large  number of experiments suggesting that we might be able to obtain clean  and abundant energy from the vacuum or from low energy nuclear reactions (cold fusion).

But these results fly in the face of conventional physics. "The  resistance to a new idea", Bertrand Russell said, "increases  as the square of its importance." Through the ages, perhaps no idea is more important or more maligned than that of perpetual motion or free energy. Inventors rarely lead easy lives, but those dedicated to the quest for free energy have met with especially great resistance. We look at  the sagas of Nikola Tesia, T. Henry Moray, Bruce de Palma and Stefan Marinov  as examples spanning this past century.

This quest began far earlier, as revealed in this fascinating biography  by John Collins. The time is the second decade of the eighteenth century and the place is Germany. Here Johannes Bessler, alias Orffyreus, built  and demonstrated large wheels which he claimed could turn indefinitely.  In one dramatic demonstration, a Bessler wheel was documented to have run continuously for four weeks.

This informative book contributes an important historical account of a subject recently revived by the furore over zero point (vacuum) energy  and cold fusion as unconventional options to supplant unprecedented globa pollution. Was Offyreus authentic or a fraud? The unfolding drama readi  like a mystery story about a polarisec debate between supporters anc detractors.

Isaac Newton, Gottried Leibniz, John Rowley and Peter the Great were among those who played a part in the debate and the potential.

The story was even more dramatic because Offyreus offered the wheel and  its secrets to anyone who would pay him the equivalent of more than one  million pounds. With no offers tendered over the decades, he died along with the secret as a poor man. Only one sponsor rnay have also learned  of the inner workings of the device, but he too was sworn to secrecy to the grave.

So we are left in the dark about its authenticity. Collins correctly points out that the concept of perpetual motion has its semantic difficulties  that can cause a premature dismissal from some critics. The relevant question to ask is, can we obtain energy from a mechanical freerunning device by the ingenious placement of weights with respect to the centre of gravity of the wheel to make it turn continuously? Collins believes this was Bessler's  secret, analagous to a windmill turning continuously in a constant wind. Regrettably he offers no definitive or quantitative analysis of how that mechanism might have worked successfully.

Most modern free energy research goes well beyond the mechanical paradigm  of Bessler's time. Some are electromagnetic devices following Michael  Faraday's discovery in the 1830s that magnets placed on a wheel, when spun up to a threshold speed, can produce anomalous electricity that might  lead to a continuous energy source, like a paddle wheel in running water. While his historical understanding of the issue is the book's strength,  Collins seems to be unaware of the extensive contemporary research being  done on free energy. History teaches us that new energy research is both  elusive and heretical, yet intriguing enough to be taken seriously.

 Dr. Brian O'Leary is the author of a series of books on new science,  the latest of which is Miracle in the Void. O'Leary was one of the original  NASA astronauts.

Infinite Energy Magazine - ISSUE 21, 1998

This extract taken from the editorial for this issue and written by Eugene Mallove, recently unfortunately deceased and former editor-in-chief of Infinite Energy Magazine.

Even more mind-wrenching is John Collins' book, "Perpetual Motion: An Ancient Mystery Solved?". We offer a variety of reviews. Can it  be that in the early 18th Century, Johann Bessler was actually onto something that also disappeared for a much longer time than the purported Coler  device? The delicious story entrains such luminaries as jealous antagonists Isaac Newton and Leibnitz. On the one hand, it is supremely difficult  to believe that such a device could work at all, especially with what  we know of gravity as a "conservative" force. On the other hand,  the testing methods employed then and the verification efforts seem sound, at least at first glance. That may be one mystery that never gets answered.  Or perhaps, like the recent proof of 300-year-old "Fermat's last  theorem," a solution may leap out at us after centuries of time.  Reading about Bessler and his travails can only help us to understand  a bit more of the scientific revolution in which we find ourselves after  all this time.

This particular issue of the magazine contains a interview plus a number of articles based on my book. It is still available from


Book Review by Hal Fox of New Energy News (NED) copyright 1997, by Fusion Information Center, Inc.

This book is an excellent historical account coupled with a great mystery, augmented with possible after-death coded secrets. The book is about the life and work of Johann Bessler who built and demonstrated several versions  of his Perpetual Motion Machine from 1712 and on.

This book is a carefully researched and documented record of a man and an unusual machine. Many people, including some famous scientists, saw his machine operating. In one of the demonstrations the machine was operated continually for several weeks. However, due to the jealousy of a contemporary, the machine was also declared to be a fake. However, the author shows that the published explanation of how the machine was faked does not make  sense.

Johann Bessler studied various trades and crafts, including the making of pipe organs. His great interest in life was the building of a machine  that would provide power without horses or fuel. Remember this was in the early days of the steam engine. When he succeeded in making his machine, he asked for a large amount of funds (for those days) but offered his  own head to be forfeit if the machine did not perform as promised.

Apparently, the only person who really was shown the machine, was the  leader of a small country and befriended the inventor for many years but  never revealed the inventor's secret. The story of the inventor, his efforts, his destruction and rebuilding of the machine, and his final testimony would make a good motion picture.

One of the investigators of Bessler's Wheel wrote the following paragraph  in his lengthy report to Sir Isaac Newton:

"You see, Sir, I have not had any absolute demonstration, that the principle of motion which is certainly within the wheel, is really a principle of perpetual motion; but at the same time it cannot be denied me that  I have received very good reasons to think so, which is a strong presumption in favour of the inventor. The Landgrave made Orffyreus [alternate name  for Bessler] a very handsome present to be let into the secret of the  machine, under an engagement nevertheless not to discover, or to make any use of it, before the inventor has procured a sufficient reward for  making his discovery public. I am very well aware, Sir, that in England only, the arts and sciences are so generally cultivated as to afford any prospect of the inventor's acquiring a reward adequate to this discovery.  He requires nothing more than the assurance of having it [money] paid him when his machine is found to be really a perpetual motion; and as  he desires nothing more than this assurance till the construction of the  machine be displayed and fairly examine, it cannot [be] expected he should  submit to such an examination before such an assurance be given him."

The real suspense of the story is provided in the final chapters when  the publications left by the author are evaluated to determine if there is a code, a final legacy, that reveals how the machine could use gravity  to produce power. The author is convincing both that Johann Bessler really did have a working machine and second that he did, very likely, leave  his secret in his final writings which were published. If you are good  at breaking codes, maybe you can be the one to restore the knowledge of this wonder machine to the world.

    Copyright © 2006 John Collins.