Build a lesson around any TED-Ed Original, TED Talk or YouTube video
Create a Lesson

Why don't perpetual motion machines ever work? - Netta Schramm

  • 4,475,475
    Views

  • 4,015
    Questions Answered


Let’s Begin…

Perpetual motion machines — devices that can do work indefinitely without any external energy source — have captured many inventors’ imaginations because they could totally transform our relationship with energy. There’s just one problem: they don’t work. Why not? Netta Schramm describes the pitfalls of perpetual motion machines.

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
  • Associate Producer Jessica Ruby
  • Content Producer Gerta Xhelo
  • Editorial Producer Alex Rosenthal
  • Narrator Addison Anderson

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.


Customize This Lesson

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
  • Associate Producer Jessica Ruby
  • Content Producer Gerta Xhelo
  • Editorial Producer Alex Rosenthal
  • Narrator Addison Anderson

Share

Log In to Take or Create a Lesson

Log In to participate

Please Log In or Register to Apply

Please Log in to Access Leader Resources

If you have already logged into ted.com click Log In to verify your authentication. Click Register if you need to create a free TED-Ed account.
Log In    Register

Enter your name

Your name and responses will be shared with TED Ed.

To track your work across TED-Ed over time, Register or Login instead.