A perpetual motion machine is one that operates or produces useful work indefinitely, while producing the same or more energy than it consumes.
The dream of such machines has tantalized the human psyche for years. Although considered on par with alchemy (transmuting copper or other base materials into gold), physicians, scientists and others have tried in vain to create them.
In 1159, Bhaskara, a noted Indian author, described a machine that essentially was a round wheel with vials of Mercury attached to its rim. As the wheel would spin, the circular motion would allow the Mercury to flow under the influence of gravity, to the “heavier” side of the axle. But once set in motion, the wheel quickly came to a stop.
Villard de Honnecourt was born in the late 12th century and lived in France. By 1250 he completed a manuscript with many drawings, and one in particular showed the design of a wheel with hinged mallets (hammers).
In theory, as the wheel turned each mallet would flip over on its hinge and thereby weight down one side of the axel. But in actual practice the wheel stopped spinning quickly no matter if there were an even number, or odd number of mallets on the wheel.
This was followed by multiple designs and other variations (by other people) of “mass shifting” devices.
But the physics to support this hypothesis just does not add up – shifting weight on a wheel would add to its gravitational torque, but since the moment of inertia (the measure of an object’s resistance to changes to its rotation) of the wheel also increases, the net effect is zero.
Leonardo da Vinci (most likely enlightened) was a prolific inventor. He looked at several of the existing perpetual motion machine designs and concluded that “shifting weight” on a wheel would not work.
However, Leonardo did play with the idea of perpetual motion and designed a corresponding water pump. It consists of a screw (Archimedian) dipping into a pool of water which when turning lifts the water upward. At the top of the screw the liquid pours over a water wheel (with paddles) causing it to turn. The water then falls to the lower pool to be once again lifted up by the turning Archimedian screw.
Over time other inventors have tried their hand at creating such machines, but all have failed.
* Mark Anthony Zimara (1460-1523) – tried to create a wind mill that turned by forced air (via bellows) blowing across its paddles. The rotating windmill, connected to a shift with gears, also provided the work (energy) necessary to operate the bellows.
* Agostino Ramelli (1531-1600) – created a variation of the Honnecourt wheel, with a curved 2nd inner compartment wheel.
* Vittorio Zonca (1568-1602). – created a mill which was to lift water from a lower level to a higher level, by siphon action.
* Johann Ernst Elias Bessler (1680-1745) – turning wheels that were actually powered by pendulums and falling weights.
* Today there are “super conducting materials” that circulating energy within a closed circuit indefinitely. But unfortunately, an outside source of energy is needed to keep the materials in their super conducting state (at very low temperatures, around -200 °C).
Perpetual motion machines are thought to violate the first and/or second Laws of Thermodynamics.
The First Law of Thermodynamics:
Energy can be transformed, altered from one form to another form, but cannot be created or destroyed.
This is also referred to as the Law of Conservation of Matter.
The Second Law of Thermodynamics:
In an isolated system (no external addition of matter or energy), any physical process once started ends with less usable energy. Over time, the quantity of energy remains the same (1st law), but due to processes of spontaneous energy distribution and equilibrium in nature, the amount of “usable” energy become less.
* Heat flows spontaneously from a hot body to a cool one.
* One cannot convert heat completely into useful work.
* Every isolated system becomes disordered and irreversible in time
An example is; over time a new car will turn into a pile of rust, but a pile of rust will never turn into a new car.
If a moving device is in a closed system, like that of a clockwork mechanism or a battery-driven electric motor, clearly the limited energy will run down and motion would cease.
This is also referred to as the Law of Increased Entropy; all energy shifts incur entropy, meaning that something is lost (mostly in the form of heat).
This stipulates that a perpetual motion machine is an impossibility, in either an open or closed system. But this conclusion holds weight only if we deem the universe to consist of relative conventional time and space (no absolute), created 13.7 billion years ago with an initial but limited amount of energy.
Since all of creation is an expression of consciousness, supported and permeated by absolute existence (that which is beyond the realm of time and space), what can we infer about the longevity of our universe, or for that matter the possibility of perpetual motion?
It is estimated that human beings have 12,000 to 60,000 thoughts per day. A large part of meditation (and even psychotherapy) deals with what to do about excessive and compulsive thinking. This internal dialog is often self destructive, which continuously feeds on past impressions (samskaras) and negative attitudes.
Time and space are born as consciousness manifests as energy (the vibrational “Om”) and matter (a solidified alternate form of vibration). Thought is the movement of that energy with direction (intelligence). As such, thought can only exist in the field of time/space and causation.
Through the regular practice of meditation the mind slows down and thought becomes more intelligent and life supporting. During the experience of Transcendental Consciousness (TC), a 4th state of human awareness, there is no thought – since the field of mind is completely transcended.
Superconductive and superfluid materials exhibit extraordinary attributes (i.e., helium climbs upward). They are at the ground state of physical matter. When the mind has no thoughts as in Transcendental Consciousness, it also displays extraordinary attributes (see Patanjali’s siddhi abilities as mentioned in a prior post).
The same laws of nature that support thought in an enlightened individual’s mind, awareness being fully aware of itself and living in coexistence with the relative world, are the same laws of nature that would support “qualified” perpetual motion. That is, perpetual motion that would last for the duration of the universe. When the universe ends, that motion would also cease.
Laws of nature generate fluctuations in the vacuum state. Perhaps this is the source of “dark energy,” but we will need to wait and see what physicists turn up. But these fluctuations are a source of energy.
The Casimir Effect is a small attractive force that acts between two close parallel uncharged conducting plates. It is due to quantum vacuum fluctuations of the electromagnetic field.
According to quantum theory, the vacuum contains virtual particles. Dutch physicist Hendrick Casimir in 1948 found that by moving the plates closer together, the energy density decreases, which implies that there is a small force drawing them together. The force was measured in 1996 by Yale physics professor Steven Lamoreaux.
When we look at ourselves in a mirror, we see our reflection. Our image bounces off the mirror and returns to us. But in reality the photons of light hit the mirror, are absorbed into the vacuum state, and new photons are emitted at the correct reflecting angle. A challenge to physicists across the globe is to better understand how energy and matter interact with the vacuum state.
Recently open perpetual motion systems have been proposed that would draw “zero-point energy” from space. Space is filled with large amounts of electrostatic potential, in continuous flux. And quantum physics recognizes that every point in space is a potential source of energy.
In a closed perpetual motion system external energy from an outside resource cannot be used. In an open system it can.
The 2nd law of Thermodynamics as we understand it today, pretty much predicates that perpetual motion machines can never be built. However, if one day we could tap, and then learn how to utilize the quantum fluctuation energy within the vacuum, we could possibly build qualified perpetual motion machines.
The 2nd law of Thermodynamics operates on the gross physical level of existence; while other laws of nature function on more subtler levels. Just as Newton’s theory of gravity was superseded by Einstein’s Relativity, so to it is possible that the 2nd law of Thermodynamics will be superseded, as we learn more and are better able to manipulate the “finer” levels of creation.
Can we consider an atom, with spinning electrons, to be a qualified perpetual motion machine? The half-life of 238U (Uranium) is 4.5 billion years.
In roughly 10 seconds, 200 trillion neutrinos from the sun pass through our body and we don’t even notice it. Many particles created at the beginning of the universe are still traveling through space unimpeded.
Our universe ends and the next one begins. Close the eyes, meditate, and raise your awareness to that sublime level of the eternal now.