Create and share a new lesson based on this one.

About TED-Ed Originals

TED-Ed Original lessons feature the words and ideas of educators brought to life by professional animators. Are you an educator or animator interested in creating a TED-Ed original? Nominate yourself here »

Meet The Creators

  • Educator Netta Schramm
  • Director Jeremiah Dickey
  • Script Editor Eleanor Nelsen
  • Sound Designer Stephen LaRosa

Share

Additional Resources for you to Explore
The online museum of unworkable devices is dedicated to showcasing, categorizing and discussing the physics and engineering of many perpetual motion machines. As the welcome notice says: "This museum is a celebration of fascinating devices that don't work. It houses diverse examples of the perverse genius of inventors who refused to let their thinking be intimidated by the laws of nature, remaining optimistic in the face of repeated failures." In this museum, you can find detailed discussions of over balanced weight machines here. There are also exciting designs of fake perpetual motion machines (like the drinking bird) that you can build yourself.

For more surprising machines that look like they shouldn't be possible check out the double pendulum, sometimes referred to as the chaos machine to get the feel for "quasi-perpetual".

And remember: beware of hoaxes – they all have a hidden engine somewhere!

The photograph of Robert Boyle comes from Wellcome Images, a website operated by Wellcome Trust, a global charitable foundation based in the United Kingdom.