There are many videos on youtube in which people arranged magnets in circle and rotated one placing in middle of that circle on a shaft, and the magnet (magnet motor) starts madly and continues its movement.
Do they really rotate infinitely?
If so, do they from where they get that extra energy to move so fast and infinitely?

EDIT: This question is about real world scenario

UPDATE: I am unable to find that particular video about which i talked about -- I added them to my favourites, but they are all now deleted :( -- there are hundreds of that that kind of videos. Some example videos links

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    $\begingroup$ This whole question is pseudo-science and woo. I'm voting to close. $\endgroup$
    – Colin K
    Feb 1, 2011 at 18:07
  • $\begingroup$ With the proper rewording, this question would fit on Skeptics. Please do not migrate, but the OP may want to open it there. $\endgroup$
    – Sklivvz
    Dec 27, 2012 at 21:52
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    $\begingroup$ @Sklivvz While posting I thought that physics experts would be able to answer it better than skeptics. That is why I posted it here. I am going to post it on Skeptics as well. $\endgroup$ Dec 28, 2012 at 4:40
  • $\begingroup$ this is the skeptic question. If I may, I think you should close this question and eventually answer on skeptics. skeptics.stackexchange.com/q/14283 $\endgroup$
    – Duralumin
    Dec 28, 2012 at 8:14

4 Answers 4


Anything can rotate infinitely, if there is no friction. Rotating an object with constant velocity uses no energy to maintain. With friction it will loose energy and eventually stop. If you add a static magnetic field to the object, it will gain some finite potential energy, which in turn can be converted to kinetic energy.

Now if you add a changing magnetic field, you can make it continuously rotate or even accelerate, but this requires energy to maintain. This is how regular electromotors work, the battery is an electromagnetic potential, and will give the motor kinetic energy, but eventually the battery will be depleted.

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    $\begingroup$ I am asking about real world scenario $\endgroup$ Dec 24, 2010 at 13:14
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    $\begingroup$ Physics applies to the real world. $\endgroup$ Dec 24, 2010 at 13:21
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    $\begingroup$ Everithing is rotating infinitely. The process is unstopable. Pick any galaxy, any planet, any star. It is rotating. In relation to what? They rotate $\endgroup$ Feb 25, 2011 at 0:15
  • $\begingroup$ In real world scenario there is friction and other energy losses involved. To overcome them some extra energy is needed. Which apparently means magnets can be exploited to produce energy. $\endgroup$ Dec 28, 2012 at 4:38
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    $\begingroup$ What I have asked is about permanent magnets, as shown in videos they are moving continuosly hence overcoming energy losses which means these system are actually producing some energy. Are all of these systems fake (see the last video youtube.com/watch?v=aHVBu77jz4w) $\endgroup$ Dec 28, 2012 at 6:21

Looking at the first video -- if magnetism was sharply directional (i.e. a little searchlight of attraction coming out from the tip of the magnet) then this device would work. Unfortunately magnetism is (roughly) an omni-directional field and so doesn't just let go of one screw and start tugging on the next. The field attracts strongest the objects that are closer and attracts more weakly the objects that are farther away. If you make the magnet strong enough to start pulling at the screw-head that is next in line it will be strong enough to pull very strongly at the screw-head that is passing under it.

The person who built this wants a force to be applied to the drum at a tangent to the surface of the drum (kind of like a rope wrapped around it) to spin the drum. But any force applied by the magnet is going to be nearly straight out, which won't induce a tendency to spin.

The proof comes from the fact that the device doesn't self-start. When the magnets are brought close to the drum the drum jiggles a bit as it comes to a static resting place, but the supposed spinning force doesn't happen -- the narrator has to start it spinning.

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    $\begingroup$ ""if magnetism was sharply directional (i.e. a little searchlight of attraction coming out from the tip of the magnet) then this device would work."" This is nonsense! Ever heard of first law of thermodynamics? -1 $\endgroup$
    – Georg
    Feb 1, 2011 at 16:32
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    $\begingroup$ I was trying to discuss why the device doesn't work by considering what changes to physics would be required to get it to work and then explaining what happens in the real world. At no point do I suggest that there is a way to get the device to work. $\endgroup$ Feb 2, 2011 at 13:15
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    $\begingroup$ @Georg it's not nonsense. The point is that if magnets were like searchlights, then it would break the first law. But they're not, so it doesn't. $\endgroup$
    – N. Virgo
    Dec 19, 2012 at 13:39

As this was made the source of a duplicate declaration I will answer here, because the answers existing, though correct may not be clear enough.

What are permanent magnets? They are solid matter in lattices where the individual magnetic moments of atoms became aligned when, due to high temperatures matter was in a liquid form. An external magnetic field imposed by the fields existing during the creation of the planet, aligned the dipoles while the system cooled and crystalized.

These primordial fields may be due to a dynamo effect, like the one that exists in the sun presently, or some fields carried by the plasma that coagulated to form finally the earth. In origin the energy existing and creating the solar system comes from the cosmological creation of the universe, as in the big bang model.

These magnetic materials, permanent magnets, are storing magnetic energy , the way a battery stores electrical energy.

All these perpetual motion proposals using magnets , are transforming magnetically stored energy to kinetic energy and eventually the magnets will demagnetize. Even if in space in a perpetual motion, because of radiation due to friction in mechanical parts the magnets will demagnetize. This will happen faster if energy is extracted for use.

  • $\begingroup$ If magnetic energy can be extracted like that, why it has not been done yet? This is a clean source of energy. $\endgroup$ Apr 26, 2018 at 7:57
  • $\begingroup$ @LifeH2O because it is not much energy and because magnets are useful, not to be destroyed, they are used in elecromotors, to get stronger fields and their energy is replaced by the generated fields. $\endgroup$
    – anna v
    Apr 26, 2018 at 9:02

Not without some sort of external power source. Extremely low power neodymium magnet pulse motors are a reality though, and can be powered from the ambient energy in the environment.

EDIT: has to be said though, that extremely low power magnet motors are more like electromechanical oscillators than motors.

  • $\begingroup$ "can be powered from the ambient energy in the environment" Absolutely not. This is free energy/perpetual potion nonsense. $\endgroup$
    – Colin K
    Feb 1, 2011 at 17:02
  • $\begingroup$ youtube.com/watch?v=3PEjvPxrmEo $\endgroup$
    – Janne808
    Feb 1, 2011 at 17:08
  • $\begingroup$ youtube.com/watch?v=OMVtGxSYdhU $\endgroup$
    – Janne808
    Feb 1, 2011 at 17:13
  • $\begingroup$ ""can be powered from the ambient energy in the environment" Absolutely not. This is free energy/perpetual potion nonsense. – Colin K 17 mins ago" QFT $\endgroup$
    – Janne808
    Feb 1, 2011 at 17:22
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    $\begingroup$ I cannot vouch for low power neodymium magnet pulse motors but the widely known en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Drinking_bird uses ambient energy to power itself and is not regarded as "free energy/perpetual potion nonsense". $\endgroup$ Apr 18, 2011 at 16:55

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