Perpetual motion refers to the hypothetical idea of a machine or system that can operate indefinitely without any external energy input.
Since Man invented the wheel, the search for unlimited energy without an external source has been ongoing as it dates to the Middle Ages. It is the idea that once a machine starts to turn, it will keep on going and never stop. The scientific consensus is that perpetual motion is impossible because it would violate the first or second law of thermodynamics.
While the concept of perpetual motion has been around for centuries, it is impossible according to the laws of thermodynamics. The first and second laws of thermodynamics state that energy is conserved, and that heat cannot be completely converted into work, respectively. These laws effectively rule out the possibility of perpetual motion machines, as they would need to violate one or both principles to operate indefinitely without external energy input.
However, engineers from the past were not reigned over by such restrictive rules. Between the 17th and 20th century, the British Patent Office received well over 600 applications for possible perpetual motion machines. Although, one man came forward declaring he really did master the problem.
This man was Johann Ernst Elias Bessler, or otherwise known as Orffyreus. Born in 1680, within Saxony Germany, he was an entrepreneur who stated he had made several of these perpetual motion machines. Bessler first showed up on the scene around 1712, where he appeared in the town of Gera claiming to have invented a self-moving wheel. His three-feet-wide, four-inch-thick wheel worked itself up to a constant speed with the help of a push start. The wheel claimed to have been able to spin forever and could also lift a weighted bag. But of course, Bessler ended up attracting many foes and his invention was given minimal attention.
Upon moving to Hesse-Kassel in 1916, the Landgrave, who was an eager patron of mechanical inventors, provided Bessler with rooms in the Weissenstein Castle. It was at his home in 1717 that Bessler produced his greatest wheel yet. It was twelve-feet wide, and fourteen-inches thick while constantly revolving at 26 revolutions-per-minute. On November 12, 1717, the wheel was locked in a room with all doors and windows sealed to prevent interference. Two weeks later the room was opened, and the wheel was found revolving at 26 revolutions-per-minute. Again, they locked and sealed the door, but this time for almost two months and on January 4, 1718, upon unsealing the door, the wheel was found, revolving at 26 revolutions-per-minute.
Bessler asked for £20,000 to reveal the secrets of his perpetual motion machine, but no one was willing to spend that vast amount of money. Bessler accused Willem Gravesande of trying to discover the secret without paying for it, so he ended up smashing it to deter this from happening. With growing impatience, he ended up disappearing and taking his secret to the grave. It is believed that he left certain clues which, when decoded, will display how his machine worked.
Throughout the centuries, many brilliant minds have attempted to solve this dilemma, but have utterly failed in doing so for all their inventions had energy drawing from an outside power source. It appears that Johann Bessler was the one who could solve this old age mystery, but as he is long gone, it seems that perpetual motion remains a scientific impossibility.
Despite this, the idea of perpetual motion has continued to capture the imagination of inventors and scientists, and many have attempted to create such a machine. However, all these attempts have ultimately been unsuccessful, and the idea of perpetual motion remains purely theoretical.