The perpetual motion machine is one that generates enough energy to continue operating, which means that it does not require any energy from an outside source. As such, the machine would continue operating perpetually, hence the reason why it is given its current name. In the laws of physics, the perpetual motion machine can prove the fact that you can “create something out of nothing,” although the word “nothing” wouldn’t really apply to the machine since it still needs something to create another thing. If that seems convoluted, here are further details in regard to the mechanism and intricacies of the perpetual motion machine.
How Does a Perpetual Motion Machine Work?
A perpetual motion machine is supposed to create and rely on unlimited energy source for it to keep running. But many scientists claim that creating the said machine is impossible, as it would violate the first and second laws of thermodynamics.
The first law, or the Law of Conservation of Energy, states that energy cannot be created or destroyed since it could only be converted or transferred from another source. The second law says that the converted or transferred cannot be reverted to its normal state. When you combine these two laws, you will see that a working perpetual motion machine is not possible, because the energy needed for it to function cannot be created using the machine, and the energy that may turn it on will slowly dissipate, so it really won’t continue working after a few minutes of activation.
The United States Patent and Trademark Office, regarded as the largest organization of its kind, does not accept applications for patenting a perpetual motion machine since they consider it to be theoretically impossible to build or create. Starting with only three patents in 1975, the year of USPTO’s establishment, and 33 patents the following year, the overall score of patents reviewed for the perpetual motion machine until 2000 has surpassed the figure of 47,000,000.
Out of these numbers, only one patent, which was patent #4,151,431, has been granted for the perpetual motion machine in 1979 to its inventor, Howard Johnson, who had previously claimed that his machine was self-powered and can produce its own energy buy utilizing ordinary magnets to keep the main wheel rotating.
The news of this patent caused widespread public disturbance throughout America. Several industrialists in the company competed to see who can meet Johnson and buy his perpetual motion machine. One of these industrialists offered $100,000,000 to buy patent rights of the machine, but Johnson declined the offer, along with the other offers given to him, and stated:
“I do not want to sell [the patent right to the machine]. I know that many petroleum companies want to buy my invention through their agents to lock it away in the safe, so that their mineral oil business does not collapse. I intend to equip every American home with a wheel to bring an end to energy problems facing the nation.”
Johnson surprised the nation with his seemingly threatening speech, which further brought even more attention to his fantastic invention. The popular news outlet, The New York Times, congratulated the inventor for his patriotism and selflessness in an editorial after declaring that he wanted all Americans to benefit from his creation. Another periodical called “Science and Mechanics” published an in-depth article that explains the inner workings of Johnson’s perpetual motion machine.
However, the USPTO soon acknowledged its mistake of rewarding the patent to Johnson based on reviewing only his blueprints and not the actual machine itself, and because of the office’s blunder, they were forced to apologize publicly.
Due to the faulty reviewing process, the USPTO decided that all inventors who will come to the office must demonstrate a proper working model before they can even apply for a patent. During the investigation of Howard Johnson’s perpetual motion machine, it was revealed that he never made a model of a wheel that can move on its own using magnets, and he only submitted a blueprint for it while applying for its patent. He later tried to apply for a patent again, but because of the deceit that he presented to the USPTO, his inventions were never given a patent again. Since Johnson’s patent was rejected, there are currently zero approved patents for the perpetual motion machine.