Andrew Gernand

From Kook Science

Andrew Gernand (c. 1823 - 15 July 1911) was an inventor of German origin who received national press attention in the United States of America after his death in an obituary that was circulated in several major newspapers, highlighting his vain search for the secret of perpetual motion over fifty-five years of his eighty-eight year life.

Press Coverage

  • "LABORED 55 YEARS IN VAIN. Man Dead After Spending Life Seeking Secret of Perpetual Motion.", Washington Post (Washington, D.C.): 4, 18 July 1911, 

    Baltimore, July 17 — After a life extending over 88 years, 55 of which were spent in pursuing the will-o'-the-wisp of perpetual motion, Andrew Gernand died tonight a comparatively poor man. Gernand, who belonged to a well-to-do family, became obsessed with the idea that perpetual motion was a possibility. After devoting five years to learning practical mechanics, he began the study of all books upon the subject of perpetual motion, and instituted experiments which continued until shortly before his death. Not many days ago he declared that if he lived five years longer he was sure of success.

    During the progress of his experiments he made many interesting discoveries. One of them he reported to his son, William Henry Gernand, now living in Avalon, Ill. The old man's tip was a good one and resulted in the perfection of a corn reaper and binder, which made the son a millionaire.[i] On another tip a second son, Charles Gernand, invented a corn sheller, which was nearly an equal success with the corn reaper.

  • "WASTED YEARS IN VAIN STUDY. Death of Andrew Gernand, Who Sought Perpetual Motion.", Evening Star (Washington, D.C.): 1, 18 July 1911, 

    BALTIMORE, Md., July 18 — Andrew Gernand, eighty-eight years old, is dead here after spending fifty-five years of his life in a vain effort to solve the problem of perpetual motion.

    Gernand was an inventive genius and would have made fortunes on practical inventions if he had been able to dismiss the perpetual motion problem from his mind. As a wedding present to one of his sons, Henry Gernand, of Avalon, Ill., he gave the young man a suggestion for a labor-saving corn reaper, which made $1,000,000 or more in profits.


  1. William Henry Gernand (1855 - 1928) of Alvin, Illinois received three patents: US688630A, "Machine for Shocking Corn"; US702720A, "Machine for Husking Corn"; and US758748A, "Machine for Shocking Corn".