first critique


Now Fully Exposed


 and Intrinsic

 Motion Machine,

In which it will be shown in detail

that the

Experiment Performed by Mr. Orffyreus

is Worthless and that Neither Perpetual Motion

Nor a Constant Superior Force

Has Been Demonstrated;

At the same time, the Recently Published

Merseburg Text

is Completely Refuted,

and the impossibility of Artificial Mechanical Perpetual Motion

 is Sufficiently Shown, with an Accompanying

Copper Engraving of a Thoroughly Calculated Machine


is Capable of Rotating Left and Right, as Desired, and

Raising a Load of 70 Pounds to a Height Equal

to that Achieved at the Test Run

and thus

Accomplishes Everything that Mr. Orffyreus has Shown-



Christian Wagner,



Leipzig, 1716

Published by Johann Christian Martini,

Nicolai Street.


Translated by Andrew Witter;

U.S. © Copyright 1997 by Al Bacon

Reprinted by permission of the copyright holder



Summarized Contents of this Text

l     What a Perpetual Motion Machine Should Be.

l l    Orffyreus' Invention and Test Runs.

l l l.   The Matter Between Us Two.

IV.    Whether Orffyreus Has Proven What He Has Promised.

V.    How to Investigate the Authenticity of the Wheel.

VI.    Wheels Such as the One Orffyreus Has are Possible to Imitate.

Vll.   My Doubts are Not Removed by the Test Run.

VIII.   The Obligation was Invalidly Fulfilled.

IX.    Few of His Words are to be Trusted.

X.    The Main Error Committed at the Test Run.

XI.    Suspicion About Orffyreus' Motive Principle.

XII.   The Wheel Stood Still Once.

XIII.   The Cause of the Standstill.

XIV.  How the Wheel Can Raise One Such Load.

XV.   Gullibility of Educated People Proves Nothing.

2) What Misleads Them in this Case.

XVI.  The Interested Parties Do Not Consider it a Perpetual Motion Machine.

XVI l.  Sundry Admonitions Against the Merseburg Text.

XVI I I Concerning the Natural Heaviness of Bodies.

XIX.  All Moving Powers, Weight Especially, are Inadequate for Perpetual Motion.

XX.   Water is Likewise Inadequate.

XXI.  All Mechanical Tools.

XXII.  The Alleged Examples Prove Nothing.

XXII. to XXXIX. are All Sorts of Other Annotations.

Appendix, in which the copper-engraving of the machine is explained briefly

For a long time there has been concern and inquiry among scholars whether one can make such a machine that, once it is set in motion, will move without the introduction of new assistance as long as the material of which it is made lasts, that is to say, if the material can last for many years, until the end of the world even, then the machine made of this material will go continuously and without new help for just as long. Many excellent geniuses have endeavored to the utmost to accomplish this, as many examples and their wonderful inventions sufficiently show, and it would be long-winded and superfluous to cite them all here; but no one yet has been so fortunate to invent this marvel. (It will probably remain a secret well into the future.)

l l.

At last, contrary to all expectations, a certain man by the name of Orffyreus (whose true name and profession, along with several reports, will be given below, gentle reader) appeared and produced a wheel which, along with its trunnions and axles, rotates left and right, as desired, upon receiving a push and hoists a stone several ells high. He has let this wheel run a quarter hour for curious spectators; however, when several of them objected that it was far short of a perpetual motion machine and in particular urged that the motion be prolonged, he performed an allegedly grand experiment on 31 October 1715 after having given prior notice in the Leipzig newspapers. Before I proceeded to this trial, it was most necessary to assess the state of the controversy correctly because in the Leipzig newspapers and other publications wherein Herr Orffyreus alone speaks of this wheel, I observed that he had committed a gross "fallacy of voice."

I I I.

It is very important to distinguish between the questions whether his wheel is an intrinsic motion machine and whether it is a perpetual motion machine. According to Orffyreus' lexicon, these words are synonyms and mean the same, as evidenced by the cited newspapers and the received testimony where one frequently reads: perpetual motion or intrinsic motion. But these two terms are not synonymous for the following reason: one can make wheels (which I have already proven satisfactorily with the wheel I built) which are driven internally and thus are intrinsic motion machines (by definition) but not necessarily perpetual motion machines. Consequently, these words cannot be used interchangeably as synonyms. Regarding the former, there is no conflict between us; rather, I fully agree with him that his wheel (as he has sufficiently proven through the experiment) is an intrinsic motion machine, i.e. that the motive principle is contained within the wheel, but whether it is also a perpetual motion machine is another question, and to date it has not been proven in the slightest through experimentation.


Turning now to the experiment, it consisted mainly of a external inspection of the NB perpetual, proper and internal motion (See Leipzig newspaper extract from the 42nd week of 1715). When the wheel was put to the test, it ran continuously /NB for about a half hour. (Because the other business with the boxes and stamping mill depended on the movement of the wheel, it does not prove perpetual motion and therefore does not belong here). Then he was given testimony by the gentlemen present and thereby supposedly convinced the world, beyond all doubt, that his wheel is the true perpetual motion machine. If one looks at the great experiment correctly, one sees that Orffyreus has proven and demonstrated nothing other than the fact that the wheel is not pulled by cords hidden inside the posts but instead has an internal principle and is therefore an intrinsic motion machine, which I never doubted. Because, as mentioned above, there is a big difference between perpetual motion and intrinsic motion, Orffyreus should not have let the external inspection overlook the matter of perpetual motion. The inspection should have been arranged to address this matter at which the constant objections and desires for proof concerning his wheel are directed.


Two measures of the wheel's authenticity are discussed here. The first: whether the motive principle or superior force is so constituted that it can constantly drive the wheel around without new help as long as the material itself --be it wood, steel, iron, etc.-- lasts, which is impossible because, a priori, from that very principle of artificial mechanical motion the impossibility of perpetual motion is shown; this matter will be treated in detail below. Accordingly, it would not be necessary for one to urge the other measure; nevertheless, because many stand fast in the opinion that perpetual motion is possible and thus spend much time and money to discover it, one may very well demand the other measure. It would require that Orffyreus demonstrate the longevity of the motion by the motion's effect and duration. This he can accomplish without humiliation or disclosure of the internal structure, and because he has publicly promised to do so in the newspaper he might very well be spurred on by a higher authority. In this case a half hour is much too little. He must let the wheel run an amount of time for which NB maintenance of such speed by mechanical power would be impossible.


Because one can make an intrinsic motion machine which revolves 50 times per minute and continues at such speed and constant motion for a half hour, and even longer, until the internal principle runs out; and because I already know from my own experience what is required for a half hour NB of such speed (if the wheel revolves 50 times every minute, then it must revolve 1500 times in a half hour) and consequently how to calculate the width such a thing should have so that one does not require years but only 6 days and 6 nights, as Orffyreus himself has offered; I am certain that his wheel could not run continuously for 24 hours at its present size and speed. If he himself knows rightly, then he will perform an experiment and let it go for this long.


At the experiment he did not mention one syllable of my refutation but tacitly ignored it, which omission sufficiently indicates that his wheel is incapable of achieving that which I challenge and demand of him.


In order that the fraud be exposed none to soon, the head, instead of the wheel, must pay and it offers with life and limb to bear the responsibility for constant, continuous running when the asking price of 100000 Thaler is laid down (see the Leipzig newspaper, 3rd issue of the 38th week of 1715), which however, is a downright ridiculous offer because:

1)    He has demanded such a large sum of money that I do not believe anyone will pay it at the present time because to date no genuine test has been made from which a perpetual motion and a truly constant, strong superior force could be determined reliably.

2)    This obligation is invalid and does not produce the slightest effect because no one is lord of his members, much less his life, and therefore cannot be obliged by the pact to have them under his control. And Orffyreus conceives that his wheel is nothing less than a perpetual motion machine and firmly believes that this wheel is good enough and because it supposedly runs as long as the material which makes up the internal motive principle is in condition for driving; who, then, would try to force him to embrace a different opinion if failure to change his mind means beheading? If one were to try not "in faith of things" but from greater importance, it is not very likely that one would do so in a matter as mechanical and indifferent as this. Already many have boasted that they discovered perpetual motion and likewise a genuine longitude to the sea; but when it came to trial, it could not stand the test, yet no one was punished, let alone beheaded, because of it. They who have boasted so are like the man who wanted to persuade other people that he had pure black horses in the stable but upon inspection was found to have pure white horses. What did the people do? They left him with his foolish notion and laughed at him to their heart's content.


Moreover, the words and promises which Orffyreus publicly writes are not even pure truths. Without any misgivings he stitches onto his sleeve all sorts of boastful words, which often have the appearance of piety, for all the curious world to see, but afterwards he does not accomplish what he promises, as will become adequately clear from the following. At the time his wheel was first publicized, in the Leipzig newspaper of 3 November 1714, he disavowed all mechanical powers, among them weight, and added a guarantee that none of these was to be found in the least in his wheel. The words of the said newspaper read thus: Whereby it is guaranteed that such motive power does not depend in the slightest on wind, water, cymbals (what kind of power this would be, Orffyreus himself probably does not know), clockwork or NB, on other similar motions which serve clock makers, millers, smiths, carters and the like. Although here weight is not mentioned expressly by name, it does fall under the words: or on other similar motions etc. which include all other unnamed mechanical motions combined. Clock makers and others make use of weight, and the motions due to water, wind and clockwork are completely and exactly the same as the motion due to weight. On the other hand, at the experiment, before the wheel was set up at another place in different boards, he had taken an amount of weight out of the wheel which could have filled a considerable box, and in the received testimony he expressly admits that the weights are inside and are driven Furthermore, in the said newspaper, 4th issue of the 36th week of 1715, he solemnly promises to let the wheel run continuously for 8 days (Sunday excluded); on 31 October 1715, the day appointed for the experiment and external inspection of the NB perpetual motion machine, many curious parties had arrived supposing he would let it run for as long as promised when he set it in motion for a paltry half hour. (Here one must note that throughout the entire text I call this a half- hour experiment, the reason being that before the translocation the wheel ran NB continuously for a half hour or slightly longer and equally as long after the translocation.) I do not know who led Dr. Orffyreus to believe that a motion of a half hour is a perpetual motion.


He has otherwise performed his experiment most agreeably, in that he spent the most time taking out and replacing the weights and setting up the wheel at another place in other boards; thus, because the wheel would not have been capable of remaining in continuous motion for as long as the gentlemen present were willing to stay, the experiment did not end badly, with the motion coming to a complete halt. Indeed, it seems to me most astonishing that he was permitted to open the wheel and, with his hands to the wall behind the grating built in front, manipulate the insides without any one of those present being able to see whether the operation consisted only of the removal of the weights, or if' NB the weights, but not the wheel, were reset to their previous position so that the wheel, which had run down considerably before the translocation, would be able to go again for a while after the translocation: at an experiment which had been spoken of with such glowing terms and boasting, one should have observed this precaution more carefully.


Whoever understands mechanics and closely examines the wheel will be readily able to divine the motive principle and consequently the entire internal structure of the wheel from the rapid and constant motion just as one could easily hear the motive principle of the Draschwitz wheel by holding one's ear to the axle. In order that the sleight of hand would be revealed no further, he provided the wheel currently standing in Merseburg with a clatter and a rattle to make it difficult to hear clearly the actual motive principle. He took a further precaution by setting up a railing around the wheel so that no one might touch this mechanical monstrosity with unwashed hands.


Additionally, I must refer to a case which happened shortly before the Christmas holidays of 1715. At that time a certain person was viewing the machine which had been proceeding constantly and rapidly for a while when it slowed down gradually until it finally came to a standstill. At this point the person asked: "What does this mean?" In his anxiety, Orffyreus could think of no reply other than: "The wheel rubbed against something." This was a barefaced lie, for not the slightest rubbing had been hitherto noted; rather, as soon as he gave the wheel a push, it was running again. No fragile part of the wheel had broken (Reason: he did not reach into the wheel to repair a defect.) Much less could it have rubbed against something, as he alleged (the wheel would have had to have been situated differently in the trunnion seats), rather its movement had simply failed him. From this it is clearly shown that the great, alleged 70-pound force depends not on the internal motive principle or the superior force of the weights but on the movement of the wheel because although the wheel was complete, it was never powerful enough to bring its own bulk back to its previous speed.


The true cause of the interruption in the movement may well have been that at the time the cold had congealed and thickened the olive oil and grease, thus hindering and halting the internal workings which were otherwise strong enough to drive the wheel.


Anyone who was simpleminded enough to believe that the wheel has a constant 70-pound superior force with which it raised a box of 70 pounds above the second-story window to a maximum height of 10 to 12 ells at the experiment --as one observes partly in the copper engraving and partly in reports elsewhere-- will be able to understand how such a wheel is possible. I too accomplish this end with a wheel of the same dimensions, made heavy by weights distributed over the periphery, and when it is in full swing it raises a 70-pound box 10 to 12 ells high without slowing the operation noticeably. When the wheel has raised the box 12 ells high, it has revolved only 15 times; because the diameter of the axle is 6 inches or 1/4 ell, it hoists more than 3/4 ell of rope with each revolution. Within this amount of time (which, if the wheel revolves almost once every second, measures some 17 or 18 seconds and thus slightly more than 1/4 minute) the movement of a wheel this size at this speed cannot change noticeably. Consequently, one cannot prove the existence of a 70-pound perpetual superior force with this experiment. Now if the situation of the location permits no greater height, then Herr Orffyreus, who allows himself to be called a great, famous, experienced mathematician, is certainly not lacking in invention but knows of other things to apply, e.g. he might just take a piece of pipe some one and a half ells long and arrange the piston in such a way that 70 pounds of force are required to move it, and then hang it from the winch so that after a fourth or a half hour one will see a completely different effect.


Of course, here one might object that because many people, some great and learned and well-versed in the trade, regard the wheel with applause and admiration (see Leipzig newspaper, 3 November 1714), there is a strong indication that the wheel is authentic. I respond thus:              -

1.) There are no valid authorities in this matter except reason, proof and unobjectionable demonstration.

2.) Nowhere does one find anyone else who has built a wheel which runs by itself and wants to sell it to the people as a perpetual motion machine for 100000 thaler; thus it seems to many a rather singular novelty, and, because they have never seen anything like it, they cannot understand the way it works. They do nothing but admire it and reason as follows: if the superior force (which begs the question and has not yet been proven) is capable of turning the wheel in constant motion for a fourth or half of an hour, then there exists no reason why the wheel cannot move longer, as long as the material lasts. Yes, they step right up and thank dear God for the discovery of this secret which had been hidden in nature for thousands of years and was hitherto sought in vain.


In other respects, it would not be pointless for me to communicate to the curious world the discussion which those interested in Orffyreus led at the viewing of my wheel last Michaelmas, because from this it can be adequately seen what lies

behind the wheel over-praised by the world and what the whole aim of it is; therefore I committed the discussion to paper for better keeping as soon as they had left me. With a conscience free and intact, I am able to write the following:

1)   One of them said I should not yet print my refutation (Brief but Close Examination etc,) but should defer it; he wanted to assure me that the matter of the wheel should bring in not one but several thousand thaler; he wanted me to succeed in coming into Orffyreus' company and discovering his secret; they wanted to draw up a contract in which he, Herr Orffyreus, and others would be named and I would have authority over the money they would receive from a great lord.

2)  Another of them asserted it would be absurd and against nature to invent a genuine perpetual motion machine as mathematics requires it to be; on the other hand, their intention was to have a wheel which would run some 5 to 6 hours, would possess so much force that it could constantly drive a hundredweight and would be worth 20- to 30000 thaler. They said that various potentates would be willing to give this amount for it, and if I could make one such wheel, they would procure as much for me.

3)   Nothing would be gained, they said, if Orffyreus and I were to write against each other and thereby ruin each another. Instead it would be better if we were to meet, confer with each other and make an effort to bring the machine to full perfection.

4)  When finally I recalled that Herr. Orffyreus might yet fulfill his promise and let the wheel run continuously for 8 days, one replied: he would take care not to let it run continuously for 8 days, not to mention other things, if something became of my manuscript at that time. They made many excuses for advising me against printing it; I see, however, no reason why, if the wheel is genuine, they belittle it and dismiss it as merely a temporary motion machine; they have much less cause to persuade me not to print my text. It would be much more advantageous for them to write more boldly against the wheel and afterwards perform a valid experiment on the wheel, as required, and thereby put their adversaries to shame all at once. The experiment which Orffyreus has performed proves nothing.


Now it is necessary to mention briefly the Merseburg text again and to be rightly astonished that its author errs so grossly and is able to bring to market such absurd and nonsensical principles and postulates which are contrary to nature and in conflict with every law of motion, be it purely natural or artificial mechanical motion. The falsity can be grasped by anyone who understands nothing about mathematics, mechanics or physics but only follows healthy good sense. The same can be said of the question which is formulated in the very beginning of the text. just mentioned and the answer given to it, namely: is an artificial mechanical perpetual motion possible in nature, in other words, can an everlasting motive power of rising and falling, in other words life, be imparted to material, heavy, otherwise lifeless bodies? The author confidently answers yes, and on page 2 he right away reprehends everyone who considers perpetual motion an impossibility; for they are unable to imagine how a heavy material body (like the weights) could behave against its nature, according to which it is constantly inclined toward -- the center of the earth in opposition to the cause of the rising; he says something to the following effect: it could move against its nature and hoist itself into the air (a perpetual motion machine must be so constructed that when the weights come to rest at the lowest point of the wheel they rise again and thereby turn the wheel again); that this is impossible in the natural order of things will be demonstrated thoroughly in the following.


According to the greater part of physical and mathematical opinion, the gravity of bodies and their centripetal strength depend solely on the earth's atmospheric air, onto which God imprinted, at the creation, the motion which constantly drives away from the periphery towards the center of the earth and thereby carries and keeps the great globe at its center; at the same time this motion drives every body which is more dense and solid than air, and is located outside the center, toward the center. These bodies do not rest until they have reached this central point. It is impossible, through human hands and inventions, to take this centrally tending pressure away from the atmospheric air and to change this constant and general law of natural motion or gravity so that the aforesaid air at a certain desired location would no longer move toward the center but would move toward the periphery and consequently push all bodies of material denser than itself that way. From this it follows that by purely natural motion, i.e., the natural pressure of the air, no lifeless, material body (such as the weights) can rise up by itself but must always rely on an artificial mechanical motion.


From this motion one can understand and calculate all moving mechanical powers, e.g. humans, animals, weights, springs, water, wind, fire, etc. That the first two, namely humans and animals, could not and should not be used for the raising of the weights has been determined already; therefore, one of the remaining powers must necessarily be applied. It is clear that springs cannot drive constantly because they must be rewound. Fire must be fed continuously. Likewise, wind is of no use because of its variability. All that remain are weight and water (with water I include all other fluids, e.g. mercury). If one weight is to hoist another, that is to say, is to be the cause of the rising of another weight, then the hoisting weight necessarily must descend, i.e., approach the center of the earth, and because the motion must remain within the wheel, this weight can hoist no other until it has been hoisted itself and is able to descend inside the wheel once again. Accordingly, there must be a new weight to raise the previous weight again, and finally, for the thing to manage, the last weight must have a perpetual motion, i.e., when it has fallen to the lowest point of the wheel through the hoisting of another weight it must raise itself up (which, however, is impossible as shown above by the principle of gravity). The hoisting weight must be heavier than the hoisted . (otherwise, they would remain in equilibrium, and no motion would result), but in this wheel a lighter weight would eventually have to raise a heavier one NB as far as the heavier one has fallen and within the same amount of time; however, such an occurrence is impossible, as will be shown in XXI.


Water, like weights, drives nothing if it cannot descend and approach the center of the earth. Hence it is clear that a weight or any other heavy material body, when it comes to the lowest point of the wheel, can neither a) rise up by its own purely natural motion nor b) be raised perpetually and ceaselessly by another weight or mechanical power.


It might be objected that by means of a mechanical tool one could achieve the effect that one weight raises another much heavier than itself; but this would accomplish nothing. When the load is so many times greater than the motive power, the moving weight must fall that factor times the vertical height desired for the load. For example, if 2 pounds are to be raised 3 ells by I pound, then the one-pound weight must descend twice this distance, namely 6 ells, and because the motion must remain inside the wheel, the hoisting pound must be raised 6 ells by yet another power. Again the same outcome emerges: the motive power must have a perpetual motion (which was shown to be impossible above). Now if the hoisting weight is not capable of overcoming the opposing weight and raising it, then where else would the wheel's powerful, rapid motion and 70-pound superior force originate? From this it is hoped that each and every disinterested party can grasp that artificial mechanical motion and, consequently, perpetual motion do not occur naturally.


The example cited as proof of artificial mechanical perpetual motion is improper and makes no sense at all and is rightly closed baculoadangulum ("from the stick to the angle").What kind of conclusion is this: According to much mathematical opinion, the entire globe, along with the atmospheric air, rotates about its center; therefore, a heavy material body located outside the center can rise up by itself against its nature, i.e., the atmospheric pressure? The other two examples given, the motion of the heart and the circulation of the blood, are of the same grain. Certainly the defender of the Merseburg wheel is well acquainted with the mechanical distinction between artificial mechanical motion and spiritual motion; here the conflict arises from the possibility of artificial mechanical perpetual motion (as the defender himself acknowledges on page 2) and not from the possibility of spiritual motion. The motion of the heart and the circulation of the blood which is caused by it depend on the spirit of life and continue as long as this spirit is found in the body. When this spirit leaves, the blood stagnates and death occurs. Arguing from this standpoint again leads to a dubious conclusion: because the spirit of life can constantly move the heart and blood for a long time, a material, lifeless body (i.e. one which does not have the same animating spirit) can raise itself up against its nature and heaviness. The third argument, based on ebb and flow, makes just as little sense, especially since the true cause of this periodic motion is disputed among scholars. Again the following does not make sense: because the ocean constantly moves in a periodic motion a various locations, a heavy weight can raise itself up against it nature. This is also the case with the 5th alleged argument, based on astral motion. In all these cited examples a cause of motion can be given, but they do not in the least point to the conclusion that a weight can raise itself up against its nature.


On page 3, line 9 seq., the defender complains a about his adversaries a great deal and, among other things, about the imputations made that he sought the arguments for his machines in this or that etc. I hope no wrong will come to him from what I myself have derived mostly from the letters written by Orffyreus to the royal modeler in Dresden, a copy of which came into my hands.


In line 24 seq. the defender writes that Orffyreus would engage in no correspondence with his adversaries, etc. This I can very well believe. Because he did not have the capacity to finish the Merseburg text but had to commission someone else to complete it, he will probably leave his writing incomplete in the future.


That in line 26 the defender alleges his adversaries' intention was to make Orffyreus blurt out his mechanism in haste, is pure defamation; I never once desired to know his mechanism, even if he were to reveal it to me voluntarily. Instead of correspondence he offers, in line 28, to demonstrate the authenticity of his invention through unobjectionable tests, which would be greatly desired; but such tests as those performed on 31 Oct. 1715 are worthless and prove nothing. On page 4 line 3 he boasts of his tests having confounded all his adversaries along with their defamations and pseudo-perpetual motion machines. But the confoundedness passes quickly. The imputation that the wheel is pulled by a cord hidden inside the post has nothing to do with me because I never accused him. On the other hand I had already conceded in my Close Examination that his wheel could run 5 to 6 hours, perhaps longer (at the time I still gave him credit), and he has not yet achieved this even once. No one has seen it run this long continuously.


On page 4, line 4 seq., the defender writes that the sole purpose of his text is to give due satisfaction to the often repeated requests of the many curious people and enthusiasts living in distant places and lands and to show them that the wheel is constituted to have indescribable effectiveness and usefulness. These people would derive little satisfaction but would receive a conception of the machine much different from the one they had previously formed, if they were to come face to face with the Merseburg text; especially if they were to see the absurd and utterly false, nonsensical postulates and the pathetic half-hour experiment, of which a great fuss was made as though it were infallible proof.


In line 21 seq. the defender gives a definition of perpetual motion and at the same time wants to accuse his adversaries of pretending to have a perpetual motion machine which will not break down for all eternity. This is just another defamation, and I beseech the defender to indicate one single line in which such is pretended. The definition of perpetual motion is very well known to me and the modeler in Dresden; this can be ascertained in the letter I wrote to Orffyreus immediately after the experiment, to which he still owes me a reply; in this letter I have given him an accurate definition of perpetual motion.


On page 5, line 19 seq., the defender recounts Orffyreus' curriculum vitae and praises it to such an extent that if one were not convinced of the opposite one would almost get the idea that the invention by this man --thoroughly educated in the useful and sublime sciences, especially mathematics and mechanics-- could promise something wonderful. My intention had been to ignore this point as mere personalia, especially because one does not think much of people who proclaim their curriculum vitae everywhere. Because, however, the whole account is false, and the contrary can be shown by many witnesses to whom Orffyreus and his profession are well-known, it appears that the defender does not dare to pass the truth too closely in this accompanying point, and one is not promised anything much better from the remaining text. It is already known that his real name is not Orffyreus but Bessler, and his trade is carpenter; after some time he applied himself to medicine and organ making and promised to achieve wonderful things in these fields. When reasonable people ask him various things in order to learn whether he knows his art, his answer is always the same: "Oh, that you would not ask me such trivial things." When these professions did not go well, he turned from Leipzig to Gera, and having heard a great many discussions and accounts of people trying to invent a perpetual motion machine, he finally tried his luck and elaborated in vain on his project for many years. He was able to discover nothing so he had to be satisfied with many approximate models of the invention; in order that the people would be more inclined to believe him, he actually assumed the title "doctor" and changed his name to Orffyreus, perhaps as an allusion to Orpheus, for in the beginning he wrote his name with a "ph" that is, "Orphyreus", which spelling I read in a testimony about his wheel given in Draschwitz.


On page I, line 12 seq., the defender assures his readers that the principle of the motion depends on no external assistance, driving, etc., but is solely and simply concealed within. I never doubted that the principle is concealed within the wheel, but it is false to say that the motion depends solely on the internally concealed weights, for the impossibility has already been shown sufficiently above. The weights distributed over the circumference of the wheel give it such a powerfully moving force that a load hung from it does not weaken the rotations noticeably. The internal clatter and rattle do not imply a constant alternation of rising and falling; rather the clatter might depend partly on the turning of the weights in the compartments and partly on a completely separate clapping apparatus. Almost no clatter and rattle was to be heard with the Draschwitz wheel; the wheel was made up of 8 spokes and was completely empty near the circumference, as one could see through the various cracks in the casing made of thin splinters, but there was not the slightest trace of a rising and falling weight to be heard or seen.


At the end of page 12 and-on page 13 the defender complains that, among other things, I allege the wheel to be calculated to run for only several hours or at most 6 days and that Orffyreus' innocence and honor are hereby wronged severely. Again the complaint is unreasonable: he has still not let his wheel run for as long as I have believed possible. He cannot demonstrate or produce evidence that it has run in continuous motion for half a day. The defender asserts on page 13, line 9, that Orffyreus confounds his counterparts more by the deed and experiment he performed than by correspondence -- a ridiculous assertion, to be sure. What to think of his half-hour experiment, what it proves and whether the inspection thoroughly took all imaginable precautions are discussed in detail above and are unnecessary to repeat here.


Now I would like to make brief mention of the testimonials received from the examiners. From them the defender supposedly showed that the trial run was so conducted that Orffyreus was thereby fully acquitted of his promise; likewise, that the famed invention ("saving honor") righteously unharnessed him from the accusations of sophistry, optical illusion and charlatanry affixed to him. I have read through the testimonies numerous times with due attention but could find nothing other than the examiners' attestation to what they saw, namely, that the wheel turned left and right in the old as well as in the new trunnion seats and that they were thus fully liberated from the suspicion that it was pulled by a cord. Not a single syllable discusses whether one could infallibly conclude from this experiment that the wheel is wholly and certainly a true perpetual motion machine. The princely Saxon government of Merseburg most wisely makes the same observation and testifies nothing other than the removal of his suspicion that the machine is pulled by a hidden rope. Most astonishing, therefore, is that the defender does not hesitate to distort the received testimony, contrary to the intentions of the princely government and the examiners, and show from it something which is not all to be found in it.


On page 20 seq. the defender indicates the describable uses to which this alleged perpetual motion machine will be put. Because the whole substance of the conclusion is derived from a principle (namely, that the wheel is a genuine perpetual motion machine and has a constant superior force of a hundredweight) the falsity of which is adequately proven above, he conclusion perishes and requires no further refutation. It seems very strange to me that Orffyreus, who, according to his assertion, can impart an everlasting motive power of rising to a heavy material body, wants to build one such costly machine primarily for the pumping of water rather than impart a constant motive power of rising to the water itself (which is much better suited to motion than a weight is) through his art, and so doing save many thousands of dollars in expenses.


On page 21, line 4 seq., the defender indicates the proportion by which the force would be multiplied if the diameter of the wheel were increased. He obtains this proportion from the three different wheels which Orffyreus has made, namely, the first wheel, in Gera, which measured two and a half Leipzig ells in diameter and raised several pounds; the second, in Draschwitz which measured 5 Leipzig ells in diameter and drew 40 pounds; at the last, in Merseburg, which measured 6 Leipzig ells and drove 70 to 80 pounds into the air. From these it is concluded that if the diameter of the wheel is increased by approximately one ell, the force of the wheel increases by 40 pounds, and thus the difference increases by 40 in an arithmetic proportion. If the diameter of the current Merseburg wheel were made twice its size namely 12 ells, then the wheel could not raise more than 320 pounds according to this rule. Nevertheless, in the Leipzig newspaper of 3 November 1714 it is expressly stated that if the diameter of the wheel were thus increased, the force would square itself, according to which rule the said 12-ell wheel would raise 6400 pounds, a frightful blunder of about 6080 pounds which should rightly humiliate Orffyreus, who lets himself be called a famous and experienced mathematician and mechanic.


On page 25 the defender acts as if he has not paid attention to the doubts and objections directed at him. He considers his adversaries to be far from the true principle of perpetual motion at this time; here I support him and admit that I, like Orffyreus and all other men, am still far from this principle (we will probably come no closer to it in the future). However, I have come very close to the principle which Orffyreus has and am not far from the truth in saying that I have mastered it as well as he has. Because the defender doubts that I have the capacity to construct a machine which turns right and left, I too have calculated out such a machine to show that Orffyreus alone does not own the art.


At the end of page 25 the defender chatters a great deal about the duty of the righteous Christian, honest man, good citizen, etc. and at the same time reprimands his adversaries for having not observed this duty better. If the defender and his client Orffyreus do not first examine their own consciences and rid themselves of what they have falsely accused in others before they try to reform others, it might be said that the doctor is vile. Can one be said to have observed the duty of a righteous Christian if one who seeks to persuade the world by all sorts of ways and means that one has a perpetual motion machine --who has let his claim be printed in public gazettes and other booksó who is publicly obligated and has promised to perform a thorough test run and inspection of the intrinsic and NB perpetual motion machine, to let the wheel run 8 days (excluding Sunday) and to invite all educated and curious people-- in reality lets the wheel NB run continuously for about half an hour, sets it up on other boards, reaches his hands behind the wall, manipulates the workings therein as he pleases and then lets it run again for another half hour? That I have unmasked this disguised wheel must aggrieve Orffyreus because the profit he had previously drawn from it might be diminished noticeably; the duty of a righteous Christian, good citizen, etc., however, is hereby more observed than neglected. 


On page 26, line 7 seq., the defender calls the wheel built by me a mechanical charlatanry (but does not touch me in the least because I myself do not pass it off as anything better, and to this end I inscribed "The world's appearances deceive" to show that other wheels having a not much better motive principle are passed of as perpetual motion machines and rightly deserve such a statement) and acts very offended that I compared it to Orffyreus' quasi-perpetual motion machine. Because it is already shown and demonstrated above that the perpetual motion machine is impossible, and Orffyreus has, to date, proven nothing other than that his wheel can run continuously for about half an hour, it remains by all laws a mechanical charlatanry and only a quasi-perpetual motion machine until a legitimate trial run can be performed from which it can be concluded reliably that perpetual motion has been attained.


That I did not give the speed of the wheel built by me, as Orffyreus does for his, is intentional because I cannot conceive a reason why the wheel must revolve precisely 50 times per minute and why it may not go more slowly or more quickly. The rapid and constant motion is an infallible indication that his wheel is no genuine perpetual motion machine. If the motion should originate in the superior force of the weight, then the weight cannot possibly rise up several ells immediately in a flash, indeed if it falls to the other side of the wheel and should give it a jolt, then it can hardly fall as rapidly as the underlying compartment descends. Moreover, the wheel could not run so constantly because for any perpetual motion the preponderant weight (whatever material may constitute it) on the side of the wheel which is so preponderated must be brought closer to the axis (which is impossible as extensively enlarged on above) in order that it can be more easily raised, as soon the preponderant weight is raised over the hypomochlium, thus it must cross over to the other side of the wheel and be brought to the periphery of the wheel; now the transit is stratified and the superior force distances itself further and further from the point at rest and gravitates more and more as a consequence of the principle of conveyance, thus at the same time the wheel necessarily must go more slowly, and the further the weight comes from the point at rest, the faster the wheel goes, whence it follows that the wheel can go a) not so rapidly and b) not constantly but just the opposite. Not to mention that the strong colusion, in which the weight comes to rest at the bottom of the wheel and through the turning comes to lie at the other side of the compartment, comes about, thus the running and movement of the wheel are again and again interrupted and hindered, which is well-known from similar things that have been modeled and inspected.


To the good advice which the defender gives in Orffyreus' name on page 26, line 13, I reply with another, which is much simpler to practice and is subject to no difficulty whatsoever, whereby all disputes can be settled at once and no one but his adversaries can lose anything, and at the same time Orffyreus and his interested parties can net a profit of 1000 thaler within 4 weeks without any special effort or expense. Namely, the royal modeler in Dresden, Mr. Andreas Gartner, once again proposes to them a wager of 1000 thaler which I have already had printed in the Hamburg Gazette, No. 20 of the current year, and if the aforementioned wheel would run continuously for 4 weeks, day and night, without stopping, at the same speed while driving 70 pounds in the presence of authoritative or sworn-in persons, then he would forfeit the deposited 1000 thaler; on the other hand, if the wheel would not go so long, then he would win the amount from them. They have even less cause to refuse this wager because in the Leipzig Gazette, 4th issue of the 26th week of 1714, Orffyreus has already promised, upon request and in exchange for due satisfaction, to let the wheel run for several days and longer. I highly doubt that anything will come of this wager because, as is well known, Orffyreus dismantled his wheel last New Year's Eve and to this day he has not put it together again; he asserts that he intends to build another one, which people will find faultless. This I believe, for the wheel is likely never to appear again, and without it no one will find fault with it.


Just recently, before this text had been committed to print, a certain celebrated society sent a dispatch to Orffyreus out of its own means and offered to give him 2000 ducat in coin if he would let his wheel run for 4 weeks, day and night, without stopping, and also allow the room in which the wheel is found to be sealed. Orffyreus, however, refused with all sorts of idle excuses, from which one gathers how false was his offer to come to an agreement, which he had made in the Leipzig newspaper.


In which the copper engraving of the machine

 is explained briefly.

Because Orffyreus has frequently challenged his adversaries to build a machine capable of rotating left and right at the same speed while raising a load, I have calculated one such machine. Regarding the motive principle, this is made of springs because I am totally of the opinion that he likewise must have springs in his wheel; the narrow space inside it allows no other mechanical power to be applied. I have already tested it with weights, which are the second-best thing to use after springs; but weights present two inconveniences: first of all, because of their weight the axle of the wheel is burdened too heavily; secondly, the motion cannot be prolonged because the weights do not have enough space to descend. The other mechanical powers are not suitable for making NB the motion lengthy and strong at the same time. Here the application of the motive principle appears to be most difficult because the trunnions turn with the axle and thus there is no fixed point in the entire machine; everything is in motion; since the fixed point cannot go round with the wheel as long as the wheel is driving but necessarily must remain at one place,many have doubtlessly been misled to believe that Orffyreus' wheel is the true perpetual motion machine.

wagners_wheelFig. 1. represents the internal composition of gearing as it appears when one stands before the axle at the crank, and fig. 2, the profile, i.e., how the gearing appears in a cross-sectional view of the large wheel.

a, a, fig. 1. are two drums in which the springs are located.

b,b. The axles onto which the springs are attached internally at one end and around which the drums turn.

c. The axle around which the cords wind.  Because the springs drive unequally, it is conical in shape.

d,e,f,g are 4 wheels with their gears by which the motion is induced.

h. is a perpendicular --on the shaft of which is a gear of 8rods-- driven by wheel g.

At the two ends i. and 1. are attached two pieces of lead of a pound and a half which give the perpendicular such a powerful moving force when it is set in motion that wheel m. is driven much more powerfully by it than by wheel g., if wheel m. were to receive its motion directly from wheel g. They to whom this seems unbelievable may consider a turn spit above the perpendicular and what kind of force it would have without the lead pieces, for indeed the motion which it would receive would be much weaker than that which it would receive from wheel g. in the arrangement pictured here.

As already reported, wheel m. is driven by this perpendicular. This wheel has 72 cogs, making it necessary for the perpendicular to run very quickly. Because the gear of the perpendicular has 8 rods, it must revolve 9 times before wheel m. revolves once.

The axle of aforesaid wheel m. bends at n., from which point the arm o. goes up to the axis of the large wheel. An iron spindle, q,q, fig. 2., passes through this axis and bends at r. Through this bending the wheel is able to turn left and right, which ever way one directs it at the beginning; from this bending one also perceives why the wheel cannot start to move by itself, for the bent axles and especially the perpendicular must first be set in motion through applied assistance.

The whole composition of the gearing hangs at the top from the iron spindle, q,q, fig. 2., which passes through the axis of the large wheel, and in order that the friction does not become too great, two small wheels are installed at the top of the gearing composition. While the iron spindle rotates, the small wheels turn with it. See s. and t. of fig. 3. This figure represents a piece of the framework in which the gearing is situated.

u.,w. are the spokes of the large wheel, which are joined to the axle at x and y.

z.,z. are the two posts on which the trunnions of the wheel rest.

4,4. The two handles on which perpendiculars like those of Orffyreus can be applied in such a way that when the bent hooks are seen at the very bottom or at the very top, the perpendiculars bring their vibration to an end and fall back again as a result of their weights.

As for the speed of the wheel, it revolves almost 50 times in one minute. This wheel is thus capable of raising an attached load several ells high, as Orffyreus' wheel has been hitherto known to do; it must be noted that at the inside circumference of the wheel (see fig. 2 and m.) weights are distributed around in compartments such that the weights cannot turn, or can turn ever so slightly. At the circumference of a 6-ell wheel one can very conveniently make 30 such compartments and place I to 2 pounds in each in such a way that the wheel always maintains an accurate equilibrium (these are the same weights which Orffyreus took out of the wheel at the experiment, partly in order that the wheel would be lighter to bring to another spot; partly to make the people believe that the weights were the true motive principle for driving the wheel by means of their rising and falling). The shape of these weights can be square, round, oval, conic, etc, as desired.

One need not worry that the wheel is difficult to make and even more difficult to drive (as a certain journalist has alleged) if one only orders the distribution such that the wheel, as already mentioned, always maintains an accurate equilibrium. Whoever has observed, e.g., at sawmills, handmills and other machines, what kind of force the fly wheels have (i.e., the periphery is made of a heavy material) will easily conceive that 70 pounds can be raised 10 or 12 ells conveniently with one such wheel. Indeed if no other motive principle is inside the wheel, I am obligated to raise 70 pounds 10 or 12 ells with it when it is first brought to such a speed through a push, as Orffyreus' wheel has been brought. Because the internal gearing and especially the rapidly running perpendicular drive the wheel with considerable power, the running of the wheel does not slow down noticeably in 15 to 16 revolutions.

Provided that it should constantly pull and overcome a load of 70 pounds (in its place one could easily use a water pump) a half hour and more and because the internal gearing does not drive so powerfully, the movement of the wheel necessarily must decrease by and by, and one would soon see what the force of the wheel depends on. In this way the internal clatter and rattle become louder, and to dampen the sound of the gearing, especially the rapidly turning perpendicular, one may apply a clapping mechanism however one pleases, and driving it by the internal gearing one gives the illusion of actual rising and falling weights, at least to those persons insufficiently experienced in mechanics.

I have judged the inclusion of a more thoroughgoing description unnecessary because the rest can be immediately understood from looking at the copper engraving, and I have therefore placed no letters next to the gearing as it appears in the profile of the wheel in fig.2 for every wheel and gear corresponds with its counterpart in fig. 1.

Moreover, in no way do I assert that my wheel must agree exactly with that of Orffyreus in regard to the distribution of the wheels, number of cogs, driving rods and other things. Two different things can be identical in effect and main action. Because of the limited space on the copperplate, I was unable to include another way of making the wheel turn left and right, but I can provide a sketch upon request.

In conclusion I want to mention briefly that some may believe that the friction would be very strong because all the gearing rests upon the axle of the large wheel and the motion would be greatly hindered; but I can assure them that although on my completed wheel 2 large lead weights (like those by which the wheel is driven) along with the gearing hang and burden the axle, to say nothing of the small wheels s. and t. (see fig.3), the friction is not very strong when the iron spindle q.q. is accurately rounded, lathed and greased. Moreover, I have experimented on my wheel and found that the faster it rotates the less able the friction is to act against the running, and the slower the motion of the wheel, the more noticeable is the friction. Should Orffyreus do something more with his wheel, I too am ready.

Copyright © 2007 John Collin