Physics of Perpetual Motion and Perpetual Motion Machines

What is Perpetual Motion?

Perpetual motion is a state in which movement or action is or appears to be continuous and unceasing. In simpler terms, it is movement that never stops. Perpetual motion is purely hypothetical. Nothing could move forever, could it? That is what physicists are trying to figure out. Could an object move forever and ever? Some physicists think it is possible, and are trying to prove it by attempting to build a perpetual motion machine.

What is a Perpetual Motion Machine?

A perpetual motion machine is a machine that moves perpetually; it never stops. If a perpetual motion machine were successfully built, the machine would only stop when the Big Freeze occurred.

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A design for a possible perpetual motion machine.

Movement of Perpetual Motion Machines

The Big Freeze is a point in time when the universe has expanded so much, that it is unable to sustain motion (no thermodynamic free energy). This would create the coldest known temperature, where all movement stops. It would be a time of eternal darkness.  However, physicist believe that the Big Freeze will not happen for another 100 trillion years or so.  This is good news for everyone.

In any case, the thing to know is that a real perpetual motion machine would be able to keep moving until the Big Freeze.

Many people have designed possible ways to build perpetual motion machines, but none work as of this moment. Some designs might be able to work and move without stopping if engineered properly. If those one of those designs could work, it would be a great day for the physics community. The world would finally have an eternal source of energy. It would be free energy.

According to the fundamental laws of the universe, this would be impossible. You cannot build a successful perpetual motion machine. Now, there are probably a lot of people who are saying, “You should never say ‘never’ in science.” And fair enough. New knowledge could come along; however, in order for perpetual motion machines to be possible, this new knowledge would have to break physics as we know it. Physicist would be wrong about simply everything, and nearly none of their observations would make any sense. (Science Explained)

Reasons Why a Perpetual Motion Machine Cannot Be Built

First of all, a perpetual motion machine should not have any rubbing parts. One part of the machine could not touch another moving part of the machine. The explanation behind this reason is because the two parts touching while moving together would create friction between the two parts. The friction could cause the parts to lose its energy due to heat (energy transference). This is cannot happen if the perpetual motion machine is supposed to move forever. The friction would cause the machine to slow down, creating an eventual stop of motion.

Another reason a perpetual motion machine can’t be built is the machine has to run in a vacuum (no air). If the machine were just operated anywhere, it would cause it to lose energy because of friction between moving parts and the air. Even though the amount of energy lost because of friction caused by the air is a small amount, it would break the rules of a true perpetual motion machine. A true perpetual motion machine can move forever. Friction will cause it to stop moving even if the machine takes hundreds of years to stop. The machine has to keep moving until the Big Freeze.

Finally, a perpetual motion can’t be built because any possible design would produce sound once it is up and running. Sound is a type of energy. A real machine would have to be totally silent. Not one sound could be made from any of the parts on the machine. Perpetual motion machines can’t create any energy.

Final Thoughts

A perpetual motion machine is overall pretty useless. It’s basically just a machine that moves forever. The only possible purpose for it might to get energy from the machine’s motion. Other than that, it would be a significant breakthrough in the physics community.

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Group photo from 1927.


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