Why Gravitywheels Do Work.

Gravity wheels as a Source of Cheap, Clean Energy.
 What follows is an attempt to explain how gravity wheels might be possible. It is purely speculative and not intended to be taken as my final thoughts on the matter. It is designed to open discussion in an effort to find a solution which answers the questions which Bessler’s wheel raises and which will, at the same time, fit into our current views on the physical laws which govern our lives.

Gravity wheels hold the solution to our energy requirements. I believe that the facts discussed here and conclusions reached cannot be disputed. There are no numbers in this work, because sometimes the sight of formulae and equations can deter and I believe that the solution when it comes will originate from someone who is a hand-on craftsman and can build numerous models of designs he has created.

But how to explain such a machine within mainstream physics? If Bessler was telling the truth we have a paradox because mainstream physics is also correct. Although I know Bessler told the truth I also do not believe for a moment that the laws of physics are wrong so I am setting out to examine the reasons why such machines fall outside the current rules of physics and whether there might in fact be a way to explain this paradox and this is what I believe I have established.

 A Hypothesis

We have three problems in accepting that gravity wheels can supply our energy needs. They are: -

1)         They are said to break the law of conservation of energy.

2)         Gravity is a conservative force and as such cannot be so used.

3)         Gravity wheels won’t work because the path of a falling weight is not necessary for calculating the amount of work done by gravity in making it fall, and therefore creating different paths for rising and falling weights does not achieve a mechanical advantage to one side of the centre of gravity.

These so-called ‘problems’ can be overcome and can be explained with simple logical argument. The end result is that there is no violation of any of the physical laws that govern us

Perpetual motion machines and gravity wheels.

Definition of a perpetual motion machine; a machine which once having been started continues to run with no further input of energy. Such devices are described as isolated systems

The term perpetual motion, refers to movement that goes on forever. However, it is usually applied to a device or system that stores or outputs more energy than is put into it. Perpetual motion machines are mostly of a mechanical kind and are designed to sustain motion despite losing energy to friction and air resistance. Mainstream physics teaches us that such a device or system would be in violation of the law of Conservation of Energy, which states that energy can never be created nor destroyed, and it is therefore deemed impossible because it would have to generate more energy than it consumed; in other words it would have to create energy.

In order to produce motion, perpetual motion machines must generate some additional energy to overcome friction, thus even if the machine were able to generate the same amount of energy as was initially input, it would eventually come to a stop, as part of the energy available to make it move was used up in overcoming friction. Add in the necessity to do work as well and it becomes obvious that such isolated systems will not run continuously. 

Bessler’s wheel was, according to the inventor - and from circumstantial evidence - driven by gravity. It was, therefore, not a perpetual motion machine because it did not fulfill the requirements of such a machine. For it to work it must have derived its energy from an external source, i.e. gravity. This becomes clear if we imagine the same machine in the gravityless conditions of outer space, where the machine would remain stationary due to the lack of gravity. Having an external source of energy would therefore not lead to a violation of the law of Conservation of Energy because unlike a perpetual motion machine, the gravity wheel might output less energy than was put into it, some being lost in doing work, such as overcoming friction and driving other machines and yet still be able to draw on an inexaustable supply of energy - gravity.

So even though, in physics, the law of conservation of energy states that the total amount of energy in an isolated system remains constant, this does not apply in the case of a gravity wheel because a gravity wheel is not an isolated system.

Mainstream physics says that gravity cannot be used in this way in a gravity wheel because gravity is a conservative force.

There are several definitions of conservative force. One definition says “a conservative force is defined as one for which the work done in moving between two points A and B is independent of the path taken between the two points”. The implication being that you could move it from A to B by one path and return to A by another path with no net loss of energy - any closed return path to A takes net zero work. This means that having a wheel, for instance, in which certain weights are designed to move inwards on the rising side and outwards on the falling side, would not be able to turn continuously. The reason being that the differing paths of the weights when rising or falling with the wheel would not provide a mechanical advantage.

Another definition says “Conservative Forces are reversible forces, meaning that the work done by a conservative force is recoverable”, i.e. you can get out any work you put in or vise versa. This is referring to the fact that you can, for instance, lift a fallen book off the floor and place it back on its shelf. By doing so you are replacing the lost kinetic energy the book spent falling to the floor and reinstating its potential energy.

In summary then the energy of an object, which is subject only to a conservative force i.e. gravity, is dependent upon its position and not upon the path by which it reached that position. Forces that store energy in this way are called conservative forces

This is interesting information and as we shall see is directly relevant to the problem, but before we examine it further, what of non-conservative forces? If I push a book across the (level) table, for instance, the work that I do "against friction" is apparently lost (usually as heat) - it is certainly not stored somewhere as potential energy and is not available to the book as kinetic energy. “Forces that do not store energy are called non-conservative or dissipative forces”. Friction is a non-conservative force, and there are others. The energy that it removes from the system is no longer available to the system for kinetic energy.’

Despite these clear statements about conservative and non-conservative forces, it is apparent that in fact they do not show the whole picture. For example take two slides of exactly the same size and proportion, but one slide has a surface of polished metal and the other has one of smooth but untreated wood. A small block of wood placed on the metal slide takes one second to fall from the top to the bottom of the slide. The same piece of wood takes two seconds to fall from the top to the bottom of the wooden slide; this is due to the increased friction on the wooden slide. Gravity expends the same energy in making two identical objects fall through the same vertical distance, but it is clear that it must apply its force for longer during the fall on the wooden slide and therefore might be deemed to have expended more energy. However, we only require the mass of the falling object and the height of the vertical drop to calculate the work done by gravity, and not an element of time.

That ‘time’ is not necessary to our calculations is shown by the fact that we might, for instance, increase the friction on the wooden slide to the point where the block of wood barely moves and takes half an hour to fall the full vertical distance; the formula to calculate how much work was done remains the same. We could go further and say that the friction is so great that the wooden block does not move, in which case we have the same situation as any stationary object. It seems obvious that gravity is still applying pressure to the block of wood on the slide, but friction is applying an equal and opposing force preventing the block from falling and yet according to another definition, no work has been done because there was no movement. We cannot take into account ‘time’ otherwise we would have to apply it to all stationary objects – and time is infinite.

At what point do we say that gravity is no longer doing ‘work’? It should, I suppose, be when the object ceases to move, but perhaps the object is still moving, albeit so slowly as to be undetectable over a period of a week or so. I feel that an element of commons sense is applicable here. It seems quite obvious that gravity is still applying a force to hold everything down on the planet even if we require movement to measure it.

Is it true that gravity does no work unless it moves something? Gravity is described as a conservative force. A definition of force is as follows: - “When a force acts upon an object to cause a displacement of the object, it is said that work was done upon the object. There are three key ingredients to work - force, displacement, and cause. In order for a force to qualify as having done work on an object, there must be a displacement and the force must cause the displacement”. Is this definition of force correct? Do we truly believe that gravity is not expending energy just because it is not moving an object? We have been taught that gravity does no work on stationary objects because they are not displaced. Yet if gravity was not doing ‘work’, nothing on this planet would be held down and we should all fly off into space!

We shall return to this question. But in my opinion the implication is clear, whether something is moving or not, gravity is ‘working’ on it all the time. Time is not needed for the calculation because gravity is constant and continuous and the amount of work it does is the same for both slides in all circumstances regardless of whether it actually moves anything.  The reason why we calculate the amount of work done when gravity moves an object, is because we need to see gravity ‘moving’ something in order to measure its effect and it helps us understand it. Maybe we should apply the same common sense to the definition of force. Yes it needs to move something in order for us to be able to measure it, but to say that it is not acting just because other forces are equalising its actions and preventing us from seeing it moving something, is not logical. Saying that gravity does zero work on a ‘closed’ path where a weight returns by any path to its starting point, is meaningless because it does ‘work’ all the time, whether stationary or falling, and you don’t need to measure it to know that.

A billiard ball rests on the billiard table. It is not moving. If I lay the back of my hand on the table and put the ball on to it, it is still at rest but I can feel its weight, or the pressure of gravity trying to push it downwards. The definition of force may say that “in order for a force to qualify as having done work on an object, there must be a displacement and the force must cause the displacement”, but I know what I can feel and it is definitely a continuous force pressing down on my hand, despite the fact that, apart from the initial small depression in my hand, no displacement takes place.

Galileo dropped balls of different masses from the leaning Tower of Pisa to demonstrate that their time of descent was independent of their mass (excluding the limited effect of air resistance) so gravity applies the same pressure to everything regardless of its shape and size, but the amount of the mass effects its inertia or resistance to being accelerated or slowed down. This is like two boats of differing size and displacement. They will float along together despite their differences because like gravity the river on which they are floating is a stream of energy.

Here is a piece of an exam question with the (apparently) correct answer following: -

A teacher applies a force to a wall and becomes exhausted, what is the correct explanation?

Answer - This is not an example of work. The wall is not displaced. A force must cause a displacement in order for work to be done

Mathematically there may not have been any force applied so no work was done but common sense tells me that is wrong. I’m not arguing that the formulae for calculating the work done is incorrect, just that to say no work is done without displacement may be mathematically right but instinctively I know that it is wrong.

For another example, remember the ‘strongest man in the world’ competitions? One of the tests involved a competitor holding two heavy weights out at full arms length from the body. The weights had to be held steady for as long as possible. There was, for the duration of the successful part of the test, no displacement downward of the two weights, yet I’m sure that the competitors would say that a force, i.e. gravity, was definitely forcing the weights downwards!

Other Conservative Forces.

Remember the definition of conservative force ‘Forces that store energy … are called conservative forces’. Are there any other forces, which might sometimes be defined, as conservative? Do any other forces permit us to ‘store’ energy as potential energy? Yes of course there are.

Water as a Conservative Force

Flowing water acts like a conservative force. A toy boat floating down-stream can be picked out and carried upstream where it can float down again. This is replacing the kinetic energy used in allowing the current of water to carry the boat downstream and if I hold the boat upstream, or anchor it to the bed of the stream, it has potential energy to be carried downstream again.

 The other definition says that a conservative force is defined as one for which the work done in moving between two points A and B is independent of the path taken between the two points. Again it is clear that the distance between where we placed the boat in the water and where we removed it from are the points A and B in the above definition. Only the force of the water was responsible for moving the boat from A to B, but the boat may have been diverted close to the far bank on one trip, by for instance a rock in mid stream and closer to the near bank on a subsequent trip. Here the water alone is responsible for moving the boat from A to B, but the path may vary without any increase in the work done by the stream. This is one of several possible examples that prove that flowing water is a conservative force.

Wind as a Conservative Force.

Wind too is a conservative force as can be seen if we apply the definition of a conservative force to it. Can the wind store energy as potential energy? Yes we have seen toy sailboats being driven across a pond by a breeze. When it gets to the other side one can take it out and replace it to the windward side of the ponds and watch it sail across again. This is restoring the lost kinetic energy again.

The path can be varied by a cross current of water, and the path from A to B vary, but the wind takes the same amount of energy to get the craft from A to B regardless of how long it took.

If physics divides forces into conservative and non-conservative ones, which definition do the words ‘rivers’ and ‘wind’ come under? It is said that non-conservative forces are of limited duration and without gradient potential. Streams of water and currents of wind must therefore be conservative forces, even though one might describe them as being of limited duration locally, because the limit is not a factor while they are operating. To the object being moved they could be continuous. They have gradient potential; as demonstrated by the analogies above.

Conclusions about Conservative Forces.

This fact about wind and water and their status as conservative forces raises an important point, highly relevant to the argument about gravity wheels. If both of these forces comply with the features of a conservative force, as does gravity, then we have an opening in the seemingly impenetrable wall of scepticism of those who insist that gravity wheels violate the laws of physics. Streams of water drive water wheels and turbines without fracturing the laws of physics. The force of the wind drives wind turbines and windmills of various designs. The conclusion must be that gravity too can be used by itself to drive a weighted gravity wheel – without broaching the laws of conservative forces, nor that of the conservation of energy.

Does the path of a falling weight rule out gravity wheels?

We have seen how, according to the definition of a conservative force, the path from A to B is irrelevant to the workings of a gravity wheel and therefore no matter how you arrange the weights within, it will not produce a continuous mechanical advantage. The argument that, ‘… a conservative force is a force that does zero net work on a particle that travels along any closed path in an isolated system’ (Wikipedia), is applicable to one weight rotating about an axis, but how many people have designed gravity wheels with only one weight? There have been hundreds of designs over the years and the vast majority have contained anything from two to a hundred weights, but there are few with just one. And of course we are not discussing an isolated system. As soon as you have a design with, say four weights – a common theme – you introduce another factor, that of torque.


Torque is a twisting action and is applied to an object to make it turn about its axis of rotation. It describes rotational motion. When we tighten a nut with a spanner we apply torque to the nut. The longer the spanner the more torque we apply. Torque is a measure of how much a force acting on an object causes that object to rotate. The object rotates about an axis, or pivot point.

Torque = Force x Distance, so more force or more distance, both achieve more torque.

When a weight acts on the circumference of a wheel, it acts like a lever, and if you have two opposing weighted levers, then the one that has more leverage will overpower the other. Or to put it another way, the weight that is further from the centre of rotation will fall, causing the other one to rise. This fact is well known and lies at the heart of most gravity wheel designs. Thus we see that although the definition for a conservative force is correct when applied to a single weight rotating about a point (and in an isolated system), it does not take into account the possibility of having more than one weight at a time, rotating about that point.


1)      Gravity wheels are not the same as perpetual motion machines because they are not isolated systems. Therefore the law of conservation of energy is not breached because they use gravity as an external source of energy.

2)      Gravity is a conservative force but so is flowing water and the wind and if they can be used to drive machinery then so can gravity.

3)     As a conservative force, the path of falling weights is said to be irrelevant however this does not take into account the situation where more than one weight is present, resulting in the potential to create torque. In this circumstance the paths of the weights are critical.

So where does this leave us? I believe that a gravity wheel could provide a solution to the problem of global warming, pollution and by offering an alternative reduce the increasing costs of extracting more fossil fuels. 

It would also obviate the need for huge wind farms and offshore energy generating installations. The grid could concentrate on providing energy for industry and leave homeowners with their own independent energy supplies.

I am satisfied that Johann Bessler had the genuine article, and I hope to prove it to everyone else too, and if I’m right then that means that we could have it too. I also believe that such a machine does not require any fundamental change to our understanding of the laws of physics and therefore there is nothing preventing us from designing and building such a device.

The fact that for the last 300 years no one has succeeded in building one should not dismay us. I think the chief reason for this is due to inventors constantly rediscovering the same designs. From what I know of Johann Bessler’s work I believe he discovered a different concept, a different application of the force of gravity and I think I know what it was.

Feel free to quote this work but please acknowledge the author - me, John Collins

Copyright © 2007 John Collins.