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Orffyreus 1680 - 1745
Johann Ernst Elias Bessler, or Orffyreus as he preferred to be called, created a series of wheels he claimed were driven by the position, arrangement and motion of their own hidden internal weights.
Bessler's first public demonstration of what he called "true perpetual motion" was on 6th June 1712 at his home in Gera, Germany. This machine was a hollow wooden wheel a little over 4.5 feet diameter and 4 inches thick with a horizontal axle supported at each end by vertical posts. The wheel self-rotated at a constant 60 RPM when unrestrained and Bessler said it would continue turning at this speed for as long as desired or until it was forcably stopped and held.
The wheel was expertly examined, tested and pronounced without fraud or trickery. After receiving official certification endorsing his invention, Bessler announced he would sell his secret for a large one-off sum. He made the public guarantee that if his wheel was not as he claimed - a true perpetual motion machine - the buyer could take back their money and his head should be chopped off.
Bessler's critics argued that his wheel could not be perpetual motion simply because that is impossible - therefore he must be a fraudster. Bessler responded to this criticism with remarkable demonstrations, convincing many leading scientists, engineers and officials that an important discovery had been made.
A total of 4 different machines were publicly exhibited, examined and tested. Bessler's largest wheel was 12 feet diameter and 18 inches thick and rotated at 20 RPM under load. In an official test this wheel was set in motion and sealed under lock and guard. After almost 2 months of constant work it showed no sign of stopping.
No fraud was ever detected.
The only person to see the interior workings of Bessler's wheel was Karl, the Landgrave of Hesse-Kassel. Karl offered protection and sponsorship to Bessler only on condition the machine was genuine. To prevent risking his reputation, Karl insisted on seeing inside the wheel. Bessler agreed. After seeing the secret, Karl gave the inventor his full and considerable support.
Karl agreed not to disclose or use Bessler's secret until a sale had been finalised. He never described what he saw. Karl stated to his ministers that he believed the wheel was indeed a perpetual motion and that he was amazed that no one had invented a similar machine before Bessler. He claimed it was so simple and easy to understand that a "carpenters boy" could build one after seeing inside the wheel.
Sale of the wheel would ultimately elude Bessler for various reasons including paranoia, jealously, treachery and uncommon bad luck. Bessler fell to his death from a construction project at the age of 65, taking his secret with him.
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