perpetual motion machine, paper construction, niconico video
Have you ever woken up in the morning and thought, “I’m going to achieve the impossible today and build a perpetual motion machine!”? Well, Niconico user LupinIII didn’t exactly think that, but earlier this month he uploaded a video of what seems to be an impossible object on a Japanese video-sharing site: a deceivingly simple, Escher-esque structure with four slopes, upon which a marble continuously rolls. The video quickly garnered over 250,000 views, reaching number one in the science and technology category.

Read on to watch the mystifying video at the end of the article and learn a bit more about how the crafty paper structure was designed and built!

▼ In the video, the creator explains that initially he only wished to construct a three-dimensional object based on a two-dimensional optical illusion (often called “trick art” in Japan), like the works of Dutch artist M.C. Escher.

perpetual motion machine design, paper construction, niconico video

▼ Two well-known examples of Escher’s work: Ascending and Descending on the left, and Waterfall on the right.

M. C. Escher, Ascending and Descending, Waterfall optical illusion, impossible objects

▼ And a representation of the Penrose stairs, an impossible object that was first publicized in a 1959 article by Lionel and Roger Penrose, and soon inspired Escher to create the above works.

Penrose stairs, steps, impossible staircase, Lionel and Roger Penrose

▼ LupinIII says that since this was his first attempt at such a project, he chose to design a simple form. You can easily see the Penrose influence!

perpetual motion, optical illusion paper construction design

▼ Thus the paper craft construction begins…

perpetual motion optical illusion, paper craft, construction stage

▼ And presto!

perpetual motion optical illusion, Penrose stairs, paper craft construction

He then realizes that with a few tweaks, he may be able to create the chimera of chimeras, a perpetual motion machine! Around the 0:55 mark, he tilts his construction so that the ascending slopes become declines, and explains how the marble could keep rolling down them without end.

perpetual motion machine, optical illusion, paper construction, niconico video

For the final demonstration, a blue marble is rolled down the regular version seen on the left, and as expected it stops after the fourth and final decline. However, when the  marble is rolled down the similar looking perpetual-motion prototype on the right, this time it rolls in a counter-clockwise direction and keeps going!

perpetual motion machine, paper construction, niconico video

▼ For non-Niconico users, here’s the same video on YouTube:

Of course, we know that true perpetual motion hasn’t been achieved here and that the prototype must rely on some sort of illusion, but it still makes for a very cool video. Can you figure out what sort of trick is being employed? Also, is it just me or are you just as surprised that he was able to snag that user name? Anyway, the creator wrote that if the video is viewed enough times, he’ll post a follow-up with a reveal. So get those view counts up, people!

Sources: Netorabo, Wikipedia 1, 2, 3
Images: NiconicoWikipedia 123
Video: YouTube