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Physics science fair project:
The Science of Perpetual Motion Machines

Project Information
Title: Free Energy: The Science of Perpetual Motion Machines
Subject: Physics
Subcategory: Energy
Grade level: High School - Grades 10-12
Academic Level: Ordinary
Project Type: Experimental
Cost: Medium
Awards: 1st Place (Summa Cum Laude), Canada Wide Virtual Science Fair ($400)
Affiliation: Canada Wide Virtual Science Fair
Year: 2013
Materials: First experiment: pop bottle, plastic tubing, plumbers fitting. Second experiment: computer fan, fridge magnets, neodymium magnets, 9-volt battery. Third experiment: motor, car battery, car alternator, power inverter, receptacle, light bulb.
Concepts: Overunity machine, Boyle's self-flowing flask
Description: The purpose of this experiment was to determine whether or not energy could be created out of nothing through the use of a perpetual motion machine. To find out three different systems were built. First was tested a Boyle's self-flowing flask using water, pop, and hopefully gravity to run the system. Next, a permanent magnet motor using an old computer fan was tested in an attempt to make it run forever using the pushing force of magnetism. The final test put together was based on the idea that a rotating machine will re-charge the battery it is running off of (overunity machine).
Link: http://www.virtualsciencefair.org/2013/sven13e
Short Background

Perpetual Motion

Perpetual motion (perpetuum mobile) describes motion that continues indefinitely without any external source of energy. This is impossible in practice because of friction and other sources of energy loss. Furthermore, the term is often used in a stronger sense to describe a perpetual motion machine of the first kind, a "hypothetical machine which, once activated, would continue to function and produce work" indefinitely with no input of energy. There is a scientific consensus that perpetual motion is impossible, as it would violate the first or second law of thermodynamics.

Cases of apparent perpetual motion can exist in nature, but such motions either are not truly perpetual or cannot be used to do work without changing the nature of the motion (as occurs in energy harvesting). For example, the motion or rotation of celestial bodies such as planets may appear perpetual, but are actually subjected to many forces such as solar winds, interstellar medium resistance, gravitation thermal radiation and electro-magnetic radiation.

Gravity also acts at a distance, without an apparent energy source. But to get energy out of a gravitational field (for instance, by dropping a heavy object, producing kinetic energy as it falls) one has to put energy in (for instance, by lifting the object up), and some energy is always dissipated in the process. A typical application of gravity in a perpetual motion machine is Bhaskara's wheel in the 12th century, whose key idea is itself a recurring theme, often called the overbalanced wheel: Moving weights are attached to a wheel in such a way that they fall to a position further from the wheel's center for one half of the wheel's rotation, and closer to the center for the other half. Since weights further from the center apply a greater torque, the result is (or would be, if such a device worked) that the wheel rotates forever. The moving weights may be hammers on pivoted arms, or rolling balls, or mercury in tubes; the principle is the same.

The seemingly mysterious ability of magnets to influence motion at a distance without any apparent energy source has long appealed to inventors. One of the earliest examples of a magnetic motor was proposed by Wilkins and has been widely copied since: it consists of a ramp with a magnet at the top, which pulled a metal ball up the ramp. Near the magnet was a small hole that was supposed to allow the ball to drop under the ramp and return to the bottom, where a flap allowed it to return to the top again. The device simply could not work: any magnet strong enough to pull the ball up the ramp would necessarily be too powerful to allow it to drop through the hole. Faced with this problem, more modern versions typically use a series of ramps and magnets, positioned so the ball is to be handed off from one magnet to another as it moves. The problem remains the same.

The Simple Magnetic Overunity Toy (SMOT) is a 1985 invention by Greg Watson from Australia that claims to show "over-unity" energy that is, it produces more energy than it consumes, a perpetual motion machine.

Newman's Energy Machine is a DC motor which the inventor, Joseph Newman, claims will produce mechanical power exceeding the electrical power being supplied to it (an over-unity or perpetual motion device). In 1979, Newman attempted to patent the device, but was rejected by the United States Patent Office. When the rejection was later appealed, the United States district court requested that Newman's machine be tested by the National Bureau of Standards (NBS). The NBS concluded in June 1986 that output power was not greater than the input, and it was not a perpetual motion machine. Thus, the patent was again denied. The scientific community has rejected Newman's ideas about electricity and magnetism as pseudoscientific and his claims as false.

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Source: Wikipedia (All text is available under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License and Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License.)

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Last updated: June 2013
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