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# Perpetual Motion Machines – An Analysis

David Luo, Joe Rummaneethorn, Jacqueline Kopra
January 12th, 2015

1

Introduction

For hundreds of years, the idea of perpetual motion, or movement that can sustain itself
with no external energy inputs, has tantalized inventors. From the centuries old
Bhaskara's Wheel to the modern-day kinetic curios, devices of the perpetual motion
variety defy eye and intuition. Even today, their shortcomings are not readily apparent
without a physical analysis.
Perpetual motion machines have always interested me, if only because they usually
contain shiny, moving parts. Despite scientific, concrete proof against their operation,
it's hard not to be fascinated by them. So, when a recent Imgur post online displayed
more than half-a-dozen such seemingly functional machines, I jumped at the chance to
kill both my own curiosity and a class term project with one stone.
My group tackled the very first machine in the post, labeled the “Overbalanced Wheel.”
An animation of how this machine should operate can be found at the end of this
document. Our problems will use a torque and energy analysis to determine the net work
done by the weights on the wheel.

2

The Problems
For simplicity's sake, we will take a look at only
one cycle of the wheel when one ball is present.
The wheel is massless and free to rotate about a
central, frictionless axle. The ball is a zerovolume point particle with mass m, and moves
about the fin-shaped semicircle sections located
distance a away from the center. It begins life at
the lowest point of the highest semicircle as
shown in the diagram (angle of 90 degrees from
the positive x-axis), and falls to the right such
that the wheel begins turning clockwise (positive
ω). The farthest distance the ball can roll away
from the center is denoted by r. The only force

How much total work is done on the wheel by torque during this quarter? d) During the third and fourth quarter rotations. transferring all of its momentum to the wheel.net/question_assets/buelemphys1/chapter11/section11dash9.htm . A bullet of mass m tangentially grazes the top of the overbalanced wheel.lhup. • • How much energy is required to bring the ball back up? What is the net energy gain caused by a single ball making a complete cycle? e) In the real world. as well as an expression for when it reaches distance r from the wheel's center of rotation. • • Give an expression for the torque the ball exerts on the wheel during this part. what can we conclude about this machine? • Now assume that the system has some constant inertia I and friction exerts torque τ against the direction of motion. Knowing that both of these act against the direction of movement. Now for the questions: a) Give an expression for the torque exerted on the wheel during the first quarter rotation. the wheel-ball(s) system would have some inertia I and the bearing would certainly not be frictionless. in terms of angle and the ball's distance from the center of the wheel.webassign. b) How much work is done on the wheel by torque during this quarter rotation? c) For part of second quarter rotation. work must be done to bring the ball to its original position.edu/~dsimanek/museum/unwork.pdf History and project direction https://www. the ball slides along the flat edge of the semicircle. whose acceleration is g.acting on the ball is gravity. at what time? Solutions begin on the next page. Will the wheel ever stop spinning? If so.com/gallery/EfsDl WebAssign equations http://www. Links and stuff: Imgur post with overbalanced wheel (animated pictures yay!) http://imgur.

2 The Problems For simplicity’s sake. and moves about the fin-shaped semicircle sections located distance a away from the center. Our problems will use a torque and energy analysis to determine the net work done by the weights on the wheel. The ball is a zero-volume point particle with mass m. their shortcomings are not readily apparent without a physical analysis. The wheel is massless and free to rotate about a central. So. if only because they usually contain shiny.” An animation of how this machine should operate can be found at the end of this document. frictionless axle. labeled the “Overbalanced Wheel. Perpetual motion machines have always interested me. it’s hard not to be fascinated by them. It begins life at the lowest point of the highest semicircle as shown in the diagram (angle of 90 degrees from the positive x-axis). or movement that can sustain itself with no external energy inputs. moving parts. concrete proof against their operation. we will take a look at only one cycle of the wheel when one ball is present.An Analysis davidjluo January 2015 1 Introduction For hundreds of years. My group tackled the very first machine in the post. has tantalized inventors. From the centuries old Bhaskara’s Wheel to the modern-day kinetic curios.Perpetual Motion Machines . Now for the questions: . The only force acting on the ball is gravity. when a recent Imgur post online displayed more than half-a-dozen such seemingly functional machines. whose acceleration is g. the idea of perpetual motion. Even today. The farthest distance the ball can roll away from the center is denoted by r. I jumped at the chance to kill both my own curiosity and a class term project with one stone. and falls to the right such that the wheel begins turning clockwise (positive ω). devices of the perpetual motion variety defy eye and intuition. Despite scientific.

l is not constant. Z θ2 W = τ dθ (10) θ1 l=a Z (11) 0 −amgcosθdθ = amg W = π 2 (12) .2 π 2 > θ > 0. Part (c. where l represents distance to the origin. which can be derived from the linear version Z l2 W = F dl (4) l1 where dl is some tiny distance the ball moves away from the origin. l is constant.3 Torque 3. τ = −lmgcosθ for 3. counterclockwise from the positive x axis. dl = ldθ (5) τ = F rsinθ τ F = rsinθ Z θ2 W = τ dθ (6) (7) (8) θ1 4. τ = lmgcosθ 4 (1) π 2 >θ> (3) In this interval. In this interval.i) τ = lmgcosθ for 0 > θ > −tan−1 ( (r and 2 2 1/2 −a ) a for 2 2 1/2 −tan−1 ( (r −aa ) ) (2) ).1 Part (a) We will measure θ conventionally. Work We want to use the rotational form of the work integral.1 Part (b) τ = −lmgcosθ for π 2 (9) > θ > 0.

ii) For 0 > θ > −tan−1 ( (r 2 −a2 )1/2 ) a Z θ2 W = τ dθ (13) τ = lmgcosθ a l= cosθ (14) θ1 −tan−1 ( Z (r 2 −a2 )1/2 a (15) ) amgdθ = amg ∗ tan−1 ( W = 0 (r2 − a2 )1/2 ) a (16) This is problematic.2 Part (c.2. We got a strange answer in (16) that we could not resolve.4. the work for 0 > θ > −tan−1 ( (r −aa ) ) did not come out as expected.3 (r 2 −a2 )1/2 a (19) rmgcosθdθ = rmg − mg(r2 − a2 )1/2 (20) ) Reality Check 2 2 1/2 In section 4. W = −∆U (21) ∆U = Uf inal − Uinitial (22) Ugravity = mgh (23) Then. with some Pythagorean magic ∆U = 0 − mg(r2 − a2 )1/2 (24) should be the value for work obtained in (16). see next section. W = −(−mg(r2 − a2 )1/2 ) = mg(r2 − a2 )1/2 (25) . 2 2 1/2 and for −tan−1 ( (r −aa ) ) > θ > π2 τ = lmgcosθ Z θ2 W = τ dθ (17) (18) θ1 l=r Z π 2 W = −tan−1 ( 4. According to plain old potential energy. based on the height change.

and the machine generates no energy. . It is. rather unfortunately.1 Momentum Part (e) mv = 4mv2 (29) rω = v2 (30) mv = 4mrωi v ωi = 4r ωf inal = ωi − α ∗ t (31) (32) (33) τ = Iα (34) τ α= (35) I v τ ωf inal = 0 = − t (36) 4r I vI (37) t= 4rτ So unless the wheel’s radius is infinitely small. the overbalanced wheel will eventually stop without external energy inputs.4.4 Part (d) Ugravity = mgh (26) ∆U = mg(r + a) (27) W = −mg(r + a) (28) With initial U = zero. The net work of the system is zero. not a perpetual motion machine. and (25). (20). The amount of work needed to move the ball back is the same as the work done by the ball during the first half-rotation if you add up (12). 5 5.