Adam Savage critiques a "perpetual motion" machine housed at The Royal Society

It sounds like the Johann Bessler/Orffyreus character mentioned later in the video may have invented ROT13 back in the 17th or 18th century. (Wikipedia confirms!) Now that’s an idea that’s been running for centuries longer than the perpetual motion machine under examination.


Think of it as a version of “Fool Us” Everyone knows it’s fake, it was made by someone that studied the fakes. It’s a test of his ingenuity and the ones given the limited study of it. Nothing more.


The Daedalus character derived from the highly fertile imagination of the late David Edward Hugh Jones (1938 – 2017). The fictional inventor of DREADCO appeared in various science magazines over a period of almost 40 years, starting in New Scientist in 1964 and continuing in Nature until 2002. Apart from weekly columns, two books appeared about Daedalus, the first being The Inventions of Daedalus: A Compendium of Plausible Schemes (1982) and the second was The Further Inventions of Daedalus (1999). A notable feature of these articles was the annotated sketches. At its height, Daedalus demanded the introduction of at least one ingenious idea each week! Jones also wrote two books on the origin of innovative ideas (The Aha! Moment, 2012; and Why Are We Conscious? 2017). The latter being published shortly before he died on 19 July at the age of 79.

In 1974, Jones became the Sir James Knott Research Fellow at what was then The University of Newcastle upon Tyne. Later he became an independent science consultant to industry and advisor on scientific demonstrations for television. Among his many achievements, he is perhaps best known for creating fake perpetual-motion machines. Although his published ideas incorporated deliberate flaws, a remarkably high proportion turned out to be viable and led other scientists to key discoveries. Such inventions include hollow carbon molecules and 3D printing. Controversy appeared in the form of the claim that the significance of arsenic in Napoleon’s wallpaper. He leaves an incredible collection of ideas and a unique way to engage the general public in the lofty atmosphere of high-level science.

These are kept around because of Daedalus’s infamy, and if you don’t know who he is, well then, it’s a bit puzzling.


the 3 boxes contain highly radioactive decaying isotopes propelling gamma radiation outwards. For whatever reason, everyone that has made a guess has since passed.


Unfortunately the box doesn’t seem to be airtight. In a vacuum they might get a bit more time between ‘servicing’.

Though a cuboid vacuum of those dimensions might have blown the budget on its own, and wrecked the view. Thinking the glass/perspex might have been so thick you’d have an obscured view.

To fix that, simply reverse the polarity of the neutron flux.


The creator of the device is also dead. Hmm…


Well this is what they have to say on the subject:


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