*Popular Science*'s cover by

**Norman Rockwell**, October 1920 - via

commons
Like the research on the philosopher's stone, the mysterious alchemical material which should allow the transmutation of the elements, particularly of base metals into

*precious* gold, there is the search for a tool that can generate perpetual motion, or a gear capable to move indefinitely without any need of power supply from the outside.

As we will see this research has well over a thousand years and continues today among people who genuinely (and a little naively!) looking to get what would be a considerable technological leap and scammers themselves. The best way to deal with all of these is to remember what

**Richard Feynman** said some students who invited him to a demonstration for an engine running unless perpetual but rather long:

You have to ask yourself, 'Where is the power supply?'^{(1)}

**The magic wheel**

Bhaskara's wheel

The first tool would have to create the perpetual motion was the so called

*magic wheel*, a wheel that turns on its axis the movement of which would have to be powered by a lot of magnets. This instrument made its first appearance in the eighth century in Bavaria: designed to rotate in perpetuity was defeated in the long run, by friction, so that the

*magic wheel* was overcome by the inevitable thermodynamic end. Although the times don't match, someone say around that this

*magic wheel* from Bavaria is based on an earlier project proposed by the Indian mathematician and astronomer

**Bhaskara II**, wholived in 12th century.

His most important work is the

*Siddhanta-Shiromani*, the

*Crown of treatises*, a poem where, among others results, he comes to approximate the derivative for the sine function:
\[\frac{\text{d}}{\text{d} y} \sin y = \cos y\]
He also made a demonstration of the

*Pythagorean theorem*, and his path is crossed, as it can only in the tortuous paths of mathematics, with

**Pierre de Fermat**, the amateur mathematician known to throw challenges to more titles colleagues, as in the case the best known

*Fermat's last theorem* or for the following Diophantine equation:
\[61 x^2 + 1 = y^2\]
The latter, proposed in 1657, was resolved in 18th century by

**Euler**, unless we consider the solution discovery by Bhaskara II already 6 centuries before.

As astronomer most of his contributions are contained in the aforementioned

*Siddhanta-Shiromani*, where, as we have seen, he has developed some concepts about trigonometry, a branch of mathematics important, if not necessary to make observations as accurate as possible.

Bhaskara II, astronomically speaking, was heir of

Aryabhata (fourth century) and

Brahmagupta (seventh century) who they developed, about a thousand years in advance on European astronomers, a heliocentric model. Drawing on these theoretical and observational basis, Bhaskara II made a series of observations on celestial bodies, first of all on moon and sun.

As an engineer, however, it is best known for

*Bhaskara's wheel*, a wheel whose spokes were partially filled with mercury. According Bhaskara it would be just that mercury to ensure the perpetual motion of the wheel

^{(2)}.