Psychology of perpetual motion? Is there any? Better questions are: why is this idea so fascinating? Why is it still appealing although science knows good reasons to exclude the possibility of PMMs? And what is typical about the known concepts and machines? What can we conclude about their inventors' minds?

Fascination Perpetuum Mobile

A realistic man learns about the so-called "law of conservation of energy" and accepts it. That person learns at school a few facts about physics and accepts the teachers' words. Most persons forget what they have heard. Some decide for an engineering or scientific education and career. They smile about the perpetual motion notion.

Some are not satisifed with the things they had learned at school. Some invent perpetual motion machines. Why? Arguments for motivation, which are frequently heard are:

We can see the whole range from complete technical and scientific ignorance to fraud. The reasons vary, the target is mostly the same.
And there are others. They do not make concepts or construct machines, but they are interested in the free energy stuff. They also have different motivation:

The motivation may be different as could be, all have in common that the idea of a perpetual energy source is very attractive.

The Conspiration Theorists

The conspiration theorists ar eworth mentioning, as they are numerous and seem to have convincing arguments. They suspect that every PMM that failed did this due to a great conspiration of the scientific and commercial establishment. They always suspect a mechanism of suppression of good ideas. The conspiration theorists clearly know that the laws of thermodynamics are free invention and conjecture, only to oppress the real advance in technology. Sometimes we can read really funny remarks like these which are cited from The Adams Motor Page:


In 1978 Mr. Adams discovered that inventors of machines or devices of high energy efficiency capability ("Free" Energy) are not only refused patents, but that in most cases, their inventions are classified under the "Military Use Clause", which is, of course, international.
Inventors are prohibited from publishing details of their devices or promoting them in any manner of their invention is classified under this clause. In other words, their devices automatically become the sole property of the "establishment".

The fact that there is an established mechanism to suppress energy inventions of this nature has been a closely guarded secret for many years. Many inventors have made such claims, but the general public remain oblivious to the fact that they are being deprived of clean and free energy by organizations that would rather make money and hold power over the public, that allow such technology to become widely available. Yet another example of the abuse of power. (No pun intended.)"

A few comments need to be added:


If you had a closer look into the concepts section, you may have wondered why all perpetual machines can be roughly sorted into two classes: stunningly simple devices and terribly complex machines.

The Simple Machines and their Inventors

Why do we encounter simple PMMs again and again? Why are there so numerous variants of old principles like the overbalanced wheel? Why are there so many repetitions of wrongly understood basic mechanics about levers, buoyancy, capillary action or magnetic fields? None of the possible explanations and reasons is a compliment for the would-be genious.

The Complex Machines and their Inventors

The inventors of complex machines invent complex machines because they know that all simple constructions were tried already and have failed.


Some PMM inventors are so convinced from their idea that this self-esteem degenerates to messsianism. If authentic or played is of minor importance. Those who regard their constructions as given by a "higer being" are dogmatics. Those who answer critical questions and the demand for demonstrating a working sample by "You have to believe it works" are docmatics. Those who answer scientific analysis and technical arguments by telling their discussion partners stupid, and mentally too restricted to get the point in their theory are fanatists.
It is useless to discuss with fundamentalists; it leads to nothing. It is useless to warn persons who want to waste their money for the ideas of a guru and charlatan. Those who decided to do this after several warnings have to learn the other way.

Dogmatics are ridiculous at a closer glance. They talk of nothing else than world-formulae, they disprove Galilei, Newton and Einstein, and can do this in a sentence. They can deliver energy for the whole world, for free, for all. These are the minor claims. If those are issued in a thick pseudo-scientific argumentation, the whole thing becomes a great fun.

And now for something completely different.

Confusion of Sight

It is very easy to depict an operable perpetual device on paper. If this is done by a master artist like M.C. Escher, the result is fascinating. Let's analyze this waterfall image a little closer!
    At the first glance, there is surprise. The function of this device is not based on misunderstood physical principles, but by a confusion of sight. Each detail in itself is perfectly ok. The water runs downwards in every section of the canal. The waterwheel is driven by a waterfall. The construction as a whole is stunningly impossible. Our eyes are not trained for images like this. The brain refuses to combine the details to a concludent item that fits into the known schemes. This setup can't be built in practice. All other machines discussed up to now can be built, although they will not work.

I'd like to remind you that there are many ways to make images of our surrounding world. Our western way to see is not the only possible way. You may have seen already Japanese woodcut images which show a strict parallel perspective that looks strange to our eyes. However, this perspective is very useful. Have you ever seen the unproportional seeming size of persons in medieval manuscripts? This perspective has a good reason, as it reflects the importance of a person. The image was not intended as a realistic "photo" of a scene. All these ways to see are neither better nor worse than ours - just different. chapter

Last update: 4 July 2003 /
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