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23. Perpetual Motion

Magnetic mill

     Magnetic mill of the middle of the eighteenth century. A, B, C, D represents a frame of brass or wood B for the machine, E, F, to run in. E and F are two brass wheels, similar and equal, fixed upon a movable axis. 1, 2, 3, etc., are a number of artificial magnets placed within the teeth of the wheel all round, and as near each other as is possible, provided they do not touch; their north poles at E and their south poles at F.

Perpetual Motion Machine: 965-MagneticMill

     H and I are two similar and equal magnets fixed in the brass plate, A, C, very near each other, but not touching. K and L, two more, fixed in the brass plate, B, D. Now, as the north pole of one magnet repels the north pole of another magnet and attracts the south, and, inversely, the south pole of one magnet repels the south pole of another and attracts the north, so the south pole, I, "attracts all the north ones at E, and the north pole, H, repels all the nor in ones at M. In like manner, K attracts at N and L repels at O, and by this means the whole machine, E, F, is expected to move perpetually around.

     Now this would be all lovely if magnets did not attract in more than one direction. Many American inventors have tried the same principle over and over, only to find their wheel standing still, and have then sighed for some medium which, interposed between a magnet and its armature, would prevent attraction while thus interposed.

From: Gardner D. Hiscox, M.E., Mechanical Appliances and Novelties of Construction (1927), Norman W. Henley Publ. Co.



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Nature bears long with those who wrong her. She is patient under abuse. But when abuse has gone too far, when the time of reckoning finally comes, she is equally slow to be appeased and to turn away her wrath. (1882) -- Nathaniel Egleston, who was writing then about deforestation, but speaks equally well about the danger of climate change today.
Carl Sagan Thumbnail Carl Sagan: In science it often happens that scientists say, 'You know that's a really good argument; my position is mistaken,' and then they would actually change their minds and you never hear that old view from them again. They really do it. It doesn't happen as often as it should, because scientists are human and change is sometimes painful. But it happens every day. I cannot recall the last time something like that happened in politics or religion. (1987) ...(more by Sagan)

Albert Einstein: I used to wonder how it comes about that the electron is negative. Negative-positive—these are perfectly symmetric in physics. There is no reason whatever to prefer one to the other. Then why is the electron negative? I thought about this for a long time and at last all I could think was “It won the fight!” ...(more by Einstein)

Richard Feynman: It is the facts that matter, not the proofs. Physics can progress without the proofs, but we can't go on without the facts ... if the facts are right, then the proofs are a matter of playing around with the algebra correctly. ...(more by Feynman)
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