S. S. Rogers

From Kook Science

S. S. Rogers[i] was an American carpenter living in Syracuse, New York who was reported to have invented a perpetual motion machine in 1897, based on a vision that came to him in a dream. Rogers would later be reported as claiming that would-be investors from Buffalo, New York, naming in particular a Mr. Talmage, stole his machine while he was boarding there in May 1898 and left only a damaged part of it behind, after which Rogers returned to Syracuse to rebuild from scratch.

Press Coverage

  • "DREAMLAND DISCOVERY. The Syracuse Carpenter and His Perpetual-Motion Machine That 'Is All Right.' REVEALED TO HIM IN SLEEP.", Illustrated Buffalo Express (Buffalo, N.Y.): 21, 19 Dec. 1897, 

    Think of it! Here is a man who claims a secret has been revealed to him for which the world has labored in vain for centuries. And in a dream, too! That secret is no less than perpetual motion. Many a man has solved that problem only to wake up and find his solution was faulty. Machines have been devised that will run a long time of their own accord, but they have been mere toys without commercial value because their power was sufficient only for themselves. When will this dreamer awake to bitter disappointment? If he has anything at all, probably his awakening will come when he tries to make practical application of his dreamland discovery. This man is S. S. Rogers, a carpenter of Syracuse. As the papers have announced, he has made a machine which goes and keeps going, apparently, without requiring any outside power to start it or propel it. He has regulate its speed and control it as easily as any machine run by steam. He does not know from actual experience how perpetual the motion is, but he believes his machine will run until it is worn out. He has kept it running for three days and nights without stopping, and there is no apparent reason why days and nights innumerable could not be added to the number. The most striking feature of the machine is its simplicity. It is constructed in a manner that would not puzzle any person accustomed to the use of carpenters tools. For this reason the public cannot learn at present the details of the invention. Mr. Rogers is a carpenter who has worked hard. He has never posed as an inventor and says he has never worried his brains about perpetual motion. Nor does he believe in dreams as being made of any real stuff, but the fact remains that his invention is the result of a dream.

    It was about six weeks ago that Mr. Rogers had the vision. He awoke, called his wife and told her that he had discovered perpetual motion. He had only received the idea in a very general way, but his wife laughed at it. M. Rogers then fell asleep again and dreamed of the machine in detail. He is always an early riser, getting up at 4:30 o'clock in the morning. That morning, however, he failed to awake until 7 o'clock, something unknown before in his long career, for he is fairly well advanced in years. The vision was so clear that the dreamer was able to see every part of the machine. He made his construction according as he saw it, and the result is supposed to be perpetual motion.

  • "PERPETUAL MOTION. Another Man Says He Has Found How to Keep Things Moving.", Evening Times (Washington, D.C.): 6, 7 Mar. 1898, 

    Syracuse, N. Y., March 7. — A curious perpetual motion scheme is that of S. S. Rogers of this city. By an adjustment between the centrifugal, centripetal and gravitational forces the inventor has kept a rule set of wooden wheels going perpetually for several months. The wheels are fitted on a shaft with ball bearings and run in opposite directions. They are curiously grooved in the interior, and the grooves are filled with shot. Mr. Rogers has another set of wheels in which mercury is used in the interior slots. The shot in one case and the mercury in the other by shifting position as the wheels revolve constitute the power.

    Mr. Rogers is sanguine that he has discovered a way of "keeping things going forever," and is spending a great deal of his time explaining his invention to skeptics and defending himself from "sharks," as he calls them, who, he says, are trying to steal his invention. He is known, however, to have sold a tenth interest in his discovery to Buffalo parties for a sum said to be $10,000, though he says it is much more.

    "I get letters offering $10,000, $15,000, etc. for one-tenth interest in my machine," he says. "One man wanted to know how much it would take to destroy my machine and keep it secret forever. I was offered $5,000 by a firm of jewelers for machines to run their clocks."

    "A newspaper wrote to me saying that it was their business to expose perpetual motion fakes and that they had had a good many letters asking them to investigate my machine. They wrote to me later and offered me my own price on a working model to be sent to them. I didn't pay any attention to them, but they can now have a model for $10,000.

    "Some people in New York offering me $35,000. I answered them that I would take $500,000, and a little while later two men came up from New York. One said to me: 'You wouldn't take $30,000?' I said: 'I hadn't thought about it for a minute.' 'Well,' he replied, 'we have decided to give you the $500,000. Of course we would have to form a stock company, and we couldn't do that without seeing what we get.'

    "'I suppose by that,' said I, 'you mean that I'm to open up what I've got and show it to you.' He said: 'Exactly.' I told him I'd do it on the condition that he deposit the $500,000 in bank to my order and I would give him a contract to carry out my part of the agreement. He went away and I haven't seen him since."

    Mr. Rogers has applied for patents in this country and well as in foreign countries.

  • "INVENTOR'S HARD LUCK. Says Buffalo Men Stole His Perpetual Motion Machine.", Buffalo Courier (Buffalo, N.Y.): 6, 1 June 1898, 

    Syracuse has a man named S. S. Rogers but he's not a bit like Buffalo's S. S. R. The Syracusan is an inventor and he's telling everybody about his discovery (?) of a perpetual motion machine. The greater-than-Edison Syracusan tried to sell his machine to a Buffalo man. The Post of Syracuse thus tells the story:

    S. S. Rogers of No. 625 Burnet Avenue, the inventor of the so-called perpetual motion machine, who has been in Buffalo for the past five weeks, displaying his machine In the hopes of interesting capitalists in it, has returned to this city very much grieved over his experience.

    Mr. Rogers took to Buffalo an iron machine of his own construction, which has been on exhibition at his home, and several Buffalonians, in company with a Mr. Talmage, who was the means of having Mr. Rogers go west, visited him at his boarding place and all seemed very much interested in the machine. Mr. Talmage is said to have finally told Mr. Rogers that he had succeeded in so interesting a certain man that he was about to offer $100,000 for the machine and the right to manufacture it. Mr. Rogers waited for the $100,000 man to appear, but he never came.

    Finally Mr. Talmage made overtures to buying an interest, but the deal fell through. "Mr. Talmage, however, was a constant visitor at the boarding house and he tried every scheme imaginable," said Mr. Rogers, "to get me to loan him the machine or some of its parts, as he was anxious to more thoroughly convince the $100,000 man of the possibilities of the machine. But I did not let any person take the machine away from my sight, as I was very suspicious."

    Mr. Rogers also says that in his absence from the house suspicious persons asked the landlady if they could step inside and see the wonderful machine. He believes that they were trying to steal the machine in his absence. After five weeks of patient waiting and visions of $100,000, he decided that he could do no business and accordingly made plans to return to his home.

    In the, rear of the house where he was boarding there was a small machine shop filled with pieces of machinery of all descriptions. This shop was not in operation, but was used as a sort of storehouse for an adjoining factory. After making all preparations to start, Mr. Rogers went to the shop, where he had exhibited and kept the machine under lock and key, and the machine had disappeared.

    He was not much alarmed over his loss and in rummaging about in the shop he happened to stumble over a portion of the machine that had been carelessly hidden beneath a pile of old iron. He knew then that the rest of the parts must be somewhere about.

    Mr. Rogers took the part he had found and placed it in charge of the landlady, and, after a few changes in the part he found which rendered it useless, he returned to this city, very much out of patience.

    Mr. Rogers has not lost hope, however, and when a Post reporter visited him in his small shop at the rear of his home yesterday he was hard at work on a machine similar to the one he left in Buffalo, except that it is of wood. Mr. Rogers expects some people from Corry, Pa., tomorrow and he is working with all possible speed to have his machine completed by then. He extends an invitation to all those who would care to see his invention, and they may call any time after Wednesday. He says he will be only too glad to explain to them "the mysteries of perpetual motion."


  1. Seems to have most likely been Sylvester S. Rogers.