In my twenties I designed a perpetual motion device that works perfectly . . . in the future.

And by that I mean the device requires in one of its parts a type of material that did not yet exist but I imagined someday would. That imagined material would have three properties:
  1. Thin (perhaps 1/16 of an inch, or anywhere in that range.)
  2. Must block or substantially reduce a magnetic field
  3. Must not itself be attracted or repelled by a natural magnet
The third point is the hard one. There are "shielding" materials for magnetic fields but the shields themselves are influenced by magnets.

Every few years I like to check in with my smarter-than-me readers and ask if some new development in materials science has gotten us there yet.

You don't need to tell me perpetual motion violates the rules of physics. I know that. No lectures needed.

But if the rules of physics disallow perpetual motion, they also disallow any future discovery of the material I described, because having that material would allow me to build my device.

So I'm just checking in to see if anyone knows of a newly developed material that meets my criteria. If you do, you are about to change the world.

(Regular readers know I like to use irrational optimism as a feel-good strategy for the moist robot container that you refer to as Scott. That's what this is.)


Scott Adams

Co-Founder of CalendarTree (the simple way to add lengthy schedules to your calendar)

Author of the best graduation gift ever
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Apr 11, 2014
Natural magnets or rare earth magnets actually degrade as they are used. Any "perpetual motion" device that utilizes such is in actuality using up a finite power source.
Apr 8, 2014
Intersection of dimensionality is a 2-way street.

If you exist in a dimension enough to manipulate it, you exist enough to be manipulated by it.

if you stare into the abyss long enough, you take on its properties.

properties #2 and #3 are nonsensical. they are like having your cake and eating it too.

if god is a spaceghost who doesn't manifest here, he also cannot do miracles here. you cannot both effect others and not be effected by them. once a medium of intersection arises you can't stop either.
Apr 7, 2014
Superconductor, the Meissner effect. It isn't recent. Any reason that won't do what you want?
Apr 7, 2014
You seem to know this stuff better than others, here. I've often wondered about the nature of spacetime... Seems that I've heard (from sources far too advanced for me to understand)
that spacetime is a form of energy just as particles and other types of fields. Is that your understanding? Is there any potential for spacetime to be converted into forms of energy we're better at controlling? Seems that we have plenty of spacetime, and an expanding universe threatened by eventual heat death.
Apr 7, 2014
Okay, spill the beans!! How do you use that material to make the PM machine? Let's put all the cards on the table and say the the chances of the idea seeing fruition in your lifetime or your grandchildren's lifetimes is between 0.0 and 0.00, so don't worry about anyone stealing the idea.
Apr 6, 2014
Hmmm... a wormhole with 1000 meter inside length and arbitrarily movable ends might also work in the future. Just position the two ends next to the wheel in the same place as the "material" would have been, so when the magnetically attracted metal swings behind the wormhole, it would be 1000 meters away from the magnet as seen through the "length" of the wormhole, and thus, unaffected by the magnet.

Of course, if you've got a wormhole with arbitrary properties, then you probably just want a one-meter inside length so you can use it to stick the end of a heat exchanger into the Earth's core and not need to think about perpetual motion anymore. Gotta have a good seal around the heat exchanger ...
+6 Rank Up Rank Down
Apr 6, 2014
The extravagantly optimistic thesis of this thread reminded me of my impression that there is practically no-one alive in America who does not have a sure-fire scheme for getting rich quick that is doomed to fail.
+11 Rank Up Rank Down
Apr 6, 2014
[Self-winding w r i s t w a t c h is obscene? ]

Depends on the cavity where you lost it.
+4 Rank Up Rank Down
Apr 6, 2014
to go off at a tangent into the perpetual motion thing ..

.. would it be possible to take an idea from the wonderful, exact science of Economics and solve the energy loss problem by continually borrowing energy from the future? (requires device to suck energy from the future)
0 Rank Up Rank Down
Apr 6, 2014

I imagine a mechanism rather than a single material:

An organic substance of a programmed gene that operates like a magnet.

It will keep drawing its energy from any resistive field that falls in its path.
+5 Rank Up Rank Down
Apr 5, 2014
"Wrist watch" is okay, but if you put the two words together into one, the cuss filter sees the T with WAT and the alarm bells go off. "Circ u m stances" gets it all hot and bothered too.
+2 Rank Up Rank Down
Apr 5, 2014

Yes, there is, but I can't tell you about it.

>>to make something that looks like (a perpetual motion machine) on the surface but gets its energy from something clever.

I agree with this.

There is abundant energy "out there" we just need the technology to gather it. To an observer born 500 years ago, a solar cell running a fan appears to be a perpetual motion machine. We all know it's not, but they might not be able to tell. Wireless transmission of electricity and a cheap power generator will be the future.

And it doesn't matter, gathering energy from out there is the important part. More of it, faster, and more affordable than current techniques is all that does matter.

For all we know there is a material deep in the earth or on an asteroid that heats without the dangerous to human radiation.

For all we know there is a magnet like substance that oscillates it's fields quick enough to create movement in other objects.

For all we know there is a bacteria that can be created that drinks nitrogen and generates a big electric field.

For all we know there is a micro/stable/controllable pulsar that can be created.

(Regular readers know I like to use irrational optimism as a feel-good strategy for the moist robot container that you refer to as Scott. That's what this is.)

Love it.

Scott, are you willing to share 'hypothetical of course' figures as to the numbers of readers or viewers or clicks it takes from a blog to create a dollar of advertising income from that blog?
I guess it depends on the voluminous deluge of ads one subjects one's reader to, but you have a banner and a couple of display ads, a text ad, plus a pop under, which seems reasonable enough, what's a 'hypothetical' figure?
Apr 5, 2014
I would think any solution would need to use a room temp superconductor shield with some type of balancing inner magnet to offset the Hall effect of the outer magnetic field on is trying to shield. Not exactly what Scott was looking for but maybe pretty close. It would seem the group in Spain is pretty close to this
+14 Rank Up Rank Down
Apr 5, 2014
Sounds like someone has been enjoying some delicious Colorado brownies..., I mean, "material".
Apr 4, 2014

(Been reading your new book. Excellent!)

Have you considered the immaterial? A magnetic _field_ held opposite to any external field?

I'm not sure how/if you'd let it deal with more than one field strength in any given place in the field, but it ought to be doable.

Apr 4, 2014
Self-winding w r i s t w a t c h is obscene?
Apr 4, 2014
Okay, perpetual motion, faster-than-light and some other stuff is impossible, end of story. But it seems we can usually work up something just as good for our humble meatbag purposes.

We devise machines that run on less energy, and/or draw on such "wasted" energy as sunlight, wind, or even incidental movement (the self-winding !$%*!$%*!$%* Ideally we can come up with something whose power source is so cheap and/or long-lived it would be effectively perpetual motion for the live of the user and beyond.

We can't travel faster than light, but within the confines of our home planet we can transfer and process data at the "speed of thought". In fact, a few milliseconds advantage has huge financial implications on Wall Street.

Movies, television and so on only deliver the illusion of movement, made possible by how slowly we process visual information.Higher frames per second and upgraded resolution improve the illusion, but strictly speaking we have yet to recreate motion in the same way we recreate sound waves or static images. Our consolation is that the illusion meets the needs of the human eye and brain.

Revisit your device. Is there some compromise in the shielding or its contents that will make it technically flawed, but doable -- and still look like a revolutionary advance to meatbags?
Apr 4, 2014
Hmm. I wonder if my design is the same as Scott's. I need that same material.
Apr 4, 2014
In fact to go further, chuck, what you say is really only true of a ferromagnet heated past its Curie temperature.
Apr 4, 2014
For cryin' out loud, chuck.milner, Feynman not only doesn't say that, he explicitly says the _opposite_ -- he says that when your hand is pushed on by the chair that's electric not magnetic. He absolutely does NOT say "Material that doesn't seem to be magnetic (because you can't seem to feel or detect the force of attraction or repulsion) simply has its particles aligned in a sufficiently random pattern that it doesn't appear to create a magnetic field that either attracts or repulses another object," because it isn't true. Some substances -- most substances -- are diamagnetic. Lots of substances won't even show up in an NMR or EPR, which sees parts per million effects. Look, I've worked with huge magnets, a lot. Try bringing a steel wrench near them and they'd damn near break your arm. So we'd make aluminum jigs, or use copper beryllium tools, which _felt no force_. And by the way THAT'S the question Mr. Adams asked -- would it be neither repelled nor attracted by a magnetic field? Now, it's true most things will be very slightly repelled by a very divergent magnetic field, but really probably not in any way that affects them, and anyway your answer is way off.

Look, folks, it doesn't have to be anything super sci-fi sounding. It's just what I said way back below: if it kills magnetic fields, then there's field on one side of it and not the other. Fields have energy, so it'll be pulled towards the field. That's all there is to it. You don't need atoms or electrons or photons or Feynman or all that other crap.
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