We have many narratives of Orffyreus’ life from different authors. They vary in minor
details of the events in his life. In October 1982, Kadambini, a famous Hindi magazine published an article written by Chandra
Mohan Pradhan. In his article, entitled
“Ananta Kal Tak Ghumne Wala Pahiya” (The Wheel Turning for Eternity) author Pradhan, unfortunately a blind
man living in Mujjfarpur, Uttar Pradesh described the perpetual motion wheel
that was demonstrated by Orffyreus at the castle of Weissenstein. In his article Pradhan mentioned that in process of seeking
right man and a right place to demonstrate his wheel, Orffyreus became a mysterious wanderer. He himself became a perpetual
motion man. He moved from one town to another. People got used to seeing him on road. They saw him as a shabbily dressed man
with a quiet walk. Rugged and wrinkled by the sun, his face grew dark and outdoorsy. Wherever he went, people took him as
a friend of devil. At few occasions, people hurled stones over him. He was neglectful
of his dress. He began to look mysterious than he really was. Deva Ramananda also says:
“His big red eyes, twisted hair, and shabby clothes
created a feeling of awe in the people. Nevertheless, before he was a handsome man with tossled silver hair but now under
the burden of the invention his personal appearance frightened the people. He seemed entirely unaware of his appearance or
the appearance of his home, but his pale eyes were yet intelligent and probing. But he was more than what he appeared to be."
In fact, at many places Orffyreus was
accused of heresy and witchcraft.
He was run out of several towns. The people of Leipzig
ran him out of town for his radical ideas. He was facing problems everywhere.
J. Collins also remarks that Orffyreus
was an extremely touchy person, and both his enemies and friends had a great influence over him. because of his perverse attitude, Orffyreus did not succeed in convincing his critics. He estranged
his best friends and fell among enemies. Bessel’s enemies were indeed tough people and they left no stone unturned to damage the reputation and discredit Orffyreus. Especially, Court Mechanic Gärtner
and his friends were spreading rumors about Orffyreus’ trickery. Around that time, Orffyreus injured his head in an
accident. He fell seriously ill, and remained in bed for a month.
famous mathematician of the day was also among the rumor mongers who could not digest the truth of perpetual motion.. Without
any reason, he thought Orffyreus to be a rascal. At first, when people prompted
him to visit Orffyreus machine and see the truth, Wagner even refused to go and view the wheel. He was proud of his mathematical knowledge, he calculated that perpetual motion was impossible and against all laws of physics so there was no point in even considering the
possibility. He joined Gärtner, Borlach to launch a vicious campaign against Orffyreus.
One day at an early hour in the morning all of Orffyreus’ arch-enemies, Gärtner, Borlach
and Wagner, arrived to look at the machine. They had no courage to face Orffyreus, as he was a truthful person. Intentionally,
they went there early to avoid facing Orffyreus and mocking their ‘examination’. Orffyreus was living with his
wife and brothers. When they arrived at his home, possibly one of his brothers showed them the device; they quickly finished
their inspection and left. If their aim had really been to examine the machine thoroughly, they could have stayed longer.
They only wanted to create the impression in the minds of people that they had completed formality of examining the machine,
and it was found to be a fraud on their examination. Since the known laws of physics prejudiced them, they could never believe
in fact that such a device was possible and could operate to perform work
without a flaw. They believed Orffyreus was surely a fraud and there was no need to truly examine the machine and thus waste
the time. Obviously in their minds they had a plot against Orffyreus. His enemies
announced to the people that they detected fraud in Orffyreus machine. They called Orffyreus a swindler. To persuade the people
to believe, J.G.Borlach of Leipzig and rest of the gang including Gärtner and Wagner published a pamphlet in which they demonstrated
that a perpetual motion machine is against the laws of nature. The drawing made
by one of them on a copper plate displayed how Orffyreus was cheating. It showed
that the machine was powered from the outside via the columns supporting the wheel. They produced many copies of the pamphlet
and circulated it very widely.
who was convinced of Orffyreus’ integrity got worried about this vicious campaign
against a sincere inventor and on 22nd July 1715, he wrote to Leibniz about Gartners’ false propaganda:
“Mr. Gärtner from Dresden has been boasting that he has detected fraud in Orffyreus' machine. But how
can he have detected it? Did he open the machine? I don’t know, but I hesitate to believe it.”
Leibniz answered promptly, within a fortnight. On August 1715, he wrote::
“If Mr. Gärtner has already detected
fraud in Orffyreus’ artifice he should be able to imitate it. As far as I am concerned, as I have said often, I do not
regard the movement to be solely mechanical but stemming from some physical principle. But what it is, I still cannot puzzle
out. It will be useful because the machine can exhibit considerable energy for an extended length of time. In which case,
I cannot call this work of skill a fraud if it is able to deliver what is expected of it.
“In all descriptions of its effects there is always a lack of information about how long and how high the weight
is lifted. In fact no one has informed me until now:
1.What weight is lifted during one revolution?
2.How high is such a weight lifted in one revolution?
3. How many revolutions are performed in one hour?
One could then, at least, estimate the power
of the machine.”
On 5th October 1715, in another correspondence
'I do not think Mr. Gartner will easily discover Mr. Orffyreus'
secret. I also do not think it is purely perpetual motion, because I believe that to be impossible. If it is, then the machine could be enlarged to
give much greater power. But I suspect that there is some physical principle behind it because its power is quite limited.'
– (Gottfried Leibniz, 5th October, 1715.)
It is clear that Leibniz wanted to get more and more concrete
information, and it was almost impossible to be procured until he himself would decide to go and examine the machine. Meanwhile,
on 27th August 1715 Councillor Buchta also wrote to Leibniz about Gärtner’s vicious campaign..
“I do not know whether Your Excellency
has received the Gärtneriana. I have been unable to discover from Mr. Gärtner what he is planning. This excerpt from a letter
written to him will tell you of recent events connected with Orffyreus’ machine. I hope that because of this we may
soon know what to expect of this machine. But I am afraid that Mr. Gärtner is going to lose a good deal of his reputation.”
The enmity of Gärtner, Wagner and
Borlach had its results. It made many people began to believe that Orffyreus was a charlatan.
At this time it became very necessary for Orffyreus to again convince people as quickly as possible that his machine
was genuine and could actually work. He did not want his enemies to completely ruin his reputation. His enemies intensified
the campaign very much before any authentic and rigorous examination would proceed. They were also constantly trying to steal
the secret of invention but Orffyreus was always cautious. Simon Schaffer (1995) mentions that Gärtner worked as model-master for the Polish royal court and in that capacity he constructed several devices that imitated Orffyreus’ public demonstrations, including the locked-room test, but which Gärtner acknowledged as mere fraud.*
Orffyreus had already destroyed his previous wheel in Draswitz. Motivated by the success of his previous wheels
and to counter the criticism, Orffyreus decided to create another wheel, in Merseberg in 1715.
* Simon Schaffer (1995). "The show that never ends: perpetual motion in the early eighteenth century". British Journal for the History of Science 28 (2): 157–189. JSTOR 4027676.