Below is an entertaining video where Dianna Cowern (Physics Girl) talks about perpetual motion machines. For hundreds of years inventors have been trying to build these devices which, if they worked, could provide us with infinite energy for nothing. However, when the laws of physics were elucidated by modern science, scientists were able to deduce that these types of machines are impossible to build.
If someone builds one of these contraptions that seems to work, the worst thing we can do is give them the benefit of the doubt and keep an “open mind”. The question we should ask is, “What is the source of energy?”, and more importantly, “How are they fooling us?” Because, even though perpetual motion machines are impossible, it is quite possible to build a machine that acts like one. The video below showcases one of the perpetual motion machines built by the late Dr. David Jones who described himself as a "court jester in the palace of science". Dr. Jones admitted that his machines are fakes, but he has challenged scientists to explain to him how they work. Hundreds have tried and failed while his machines have kept moving for decades.
However, I believe that the more pressing issue to ponder is not how these machines work, but rather, what would have happened if Dr. Jones had been a dishonest individual and tried to sell the equivalent of "snake oil"? What if he had claimed that his machines were real? What if he had gone viral on social media and amassed a following of millions of people? What if he had responded to criticisms from scientists by vilifying them, and saying they were out to get him because they had sold out to energy companies concerned about competition from his perpetual motion machines? What if he had requested monetary contributions from his followers to defend himself from “attacks by the establishment” and to fund his "research”?
Do you see any parallels to some present day individuals or organizations?
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