Unlike other fields of pseudo-science, such as pyramidology or ufology, the perpetual motion crowd constitutes a genuine wonder. Anyone can be obsessive and delusional; but what if you’re obsessive, delusional, and you happen to be a functioning engineer, physicist, or master artisan? Then you have a good chance of inventing a perpetual motion machine. Like these guys.
Claims of perpetual motion have been around a long time, and if you read the history, you’ll notice some commonalities among the inventors:
- Absolute, unshakable confidence in themselves and their devices
- Extreme paranoia about their idea being stolen
- Conspiracy thinking, such as “if they knew I was talking to you they would kill me”
The patent office has rejected perpetual motion patents out of hand for a long time, except if the inventor submits a working device demonstrating his idea. There are lots of angry perpetual motion inventors, like the ones in the video, convinced there’s a conspiracy in the patent office, orchestrated by the “status quo” (often the oil industry), to keep their ideas unknown. Many of these same inventors are unwilling to share their ideas with anyone — after all, they haven’t gotten them patented yet! You might steal them!
It’s incredible to me that people who are so manifestly brilliant and talented could be so bonkers crazy at the same time. Take the Seattle inventor, interviewed with his “over unity” motor, a device that outputs more energy than it takes to run. He’s running an electric motor to spin a magnet, then using the motion of that magnet as a generator to produce electricity, which he uses to charge a battery. He talks about running the device for 50 hours non stop, swapping the batteries back and forth. It doesn’t seem to bother him that each time he cycles the batteries he loses a fraction of the original charge, or that he’s never experimented
with attaching a load to the engine.
Then there’s Reidar Finsrud, who is either a fraud or the creator of a near perfectly efficient machine. His plan seems to be to combine as many different elements from other perpetual motion machines as possible — magnets, springs, inclines, pendulums, precise timing — in order to completely frustrate any attempt on the part of an examiner to sort out how it works. So far, he’s been successful.
In the long run, though, we’ll find that he’s just taken a very circuitous route to reproducing existing very efficient machines, such as flywheels that have a zero-load rundown time measured in years. The laws of motion and thermodynamics just don’t have any exceptions for adding enough pendulums and magnets. There’s simply no evidence that these laws can be violated, and anyone trying to do so, to get something for nothing, is either going to end up disappointed or overturn a century of scientific theory. Which do you suppose is more likely to happen?