Take a look at this video:


It shows a machine that a Norwegian artist built. It seemingly keeps going forever. They filmed it over 3 days and it kept going at the same time.

Can someone analyze the energy losses in this machine?

I'm seeing several losses at the moment:

  1. The ball is losing energy due to friction while going around the track.
  2. The pendulums are losing energy due to air friction.

What other sources of energy losses can you notice?

  • $\begingroup$ The machine cannot be fully analyzed without a thorough examination of the "pendulum hidden in its base". One can only speculate on what may be there, such as an energy storage device arranged to replace the energy dissipated by the rolling ball and all those other moving parts. Perpetual motion? No. Apparently perpetual if you don't look to long or too carefully. $\endgroup$
    – Anthony X
    Jun 8 '15 at 3:32

What a beautiful machine! It is obviously radiating away energy, because it is loud.

I actually have a similar machine at my house. It is also a high-Q mechanical resonator with a very narrow frequency acceptance; I have compared it to standard frequency references and I believe its stability is $\Delta f/f \approx 1\times 10^{-4}$. Here's a photo of it:

my clock

I've even opened up the door so that you can see there is nothing fishy, or hidden, or even complicated. You're welcome to come and film it for three days; just give me a call first so I can wind it up clean the house.


There is no such thing as real perpetual machine, as it defies the law of thermodynamics. Friction is definitely present as the ball goes around the track,and the air resistance force too. The magnets will slowly lose their magnetism over time and the ball will ultimately stop. Also, I do not see how ones can extract useful work from that machine.

  • 2
    $\begingroup$ This is correct, also there is friction not only on the ball but also on all balancing/compensating components. $\endgroup$
    – anna v
    Sep 23 '12 at 3:40
  • $\begingroup$ And, of course, there's that "pendulum hidden in the central column" which almost certainly has some falling weights associated with it to keep things going - just like a normal pendulum clock does. $\endgroup$ Sep 24 '15 at 0:29

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