The history of perpetual motion machines dates back to the Middle Ages. For millennia, it was not clear whether perpetual motion devices were possible or not, but the development of modern thermodynamics has indicated that they are impossible. Despite this, many attempts have been made to construct a perpetual motion machine. Modern designers and proponents often use other terms, such as over unity, to describe their inventions.
Kinds of perpetuum mobiles
There are two types of perpetuum mobile:
- Perpetua mobilia of the first kind are those devices that violate the first law of thermodynamics, the principle of conservation of energy, creating energy out of nothing. Most attempts fall into this category.
- Perpetua mobilia of the second kind are devices that violate the second law of thermodynamics. Even though they obey the principle of conservation of energy, they attempt extraction of work from a single heat reservoir, violating the principle of no entropy decrease in an isolated macroscopic thermodynamic system.
In the history of free energy, some have attempted to construct renewable energy sources and allegedly suffered specific instances of suppression. Continued research into free energy with no or negligible feedstock cost, including radiant energy, solar power, telluric power, water power, and wind power is currently underway. Free energy suppression is the notion that corporate energy interests deliberately suppress technologies that may provide energy at very little cost.
Dark ages to the Renaissance
- The earliest designs of a perpetual motion machine dates back to 1150, by an Indian mathematician-astronomer, Bhaskara II. He described a wheel that he claimed would run forever.
- In medieval Bavaria, the magic wheel or magnet wheel, was basically a wagon wheel that spun by itself. Magnets with lead plates on their backs were affixed to the wheel, like the seats on a Ferris wheel. Each magnet was attracted to a magnet affixed to the base on the ground. The lead allegedly blocked attraction as each magnet passes by it, so the wheel would keep moving for a time before friction stopped it.
- In the 13th century, Villard de Honnecourt had a drawing of one in his sketchbook. Honnecourt was a French master mason and architect. The sketchbook is made up of mechanics and architecture.
- Leonardo da Vinci made a number of drawings of things he hoped would make energy for free. Da Vinci examined a few overbalance wheels. He also designed a centrifugal pump and the "chimney jack". The chimney jack was used to turn a roasting skewer (a reaction-type turbine).
- Johannes Taisnerius, a Jesuit priest, described a magnetic-based perpetual motion machine. Taisnerius's magnetic machine consisted of a ramp, a magnet stone and an iron ball. Pierre de Maricourt had earlier noted such a system which made use of the strength of the magnet stone. This runs into trouble because the line integral of force on a closed loop in a magnetic field is zero. Taisnerius passed Maricourt's work off as his own, which explains the similarity.
- In 1518, Mark Anthony Zimara designed a "self-blowing windmill". Zimara designed a self-blowing windmill that generated power from a set of bellows. The bellows blow the windmill sails round.
- In the 16th century, John Dee reported seeing a perpetual motion machine during his travels (with a pension from Elizabeth I), but wasn't allowed a closer look.
- In 1610, Cornelis Drebbel, an alchemist and magician, designed a slow perpetual motion machine that told the time, date, and season. The gold machine was mounted in a globe on pillars and was powered by changes in air pressure (a sealed glass tub with liquid varied in volume through atmospheric pressure changes, rewinding constantly).
- In 1630, Robert Fludd, English physicist and mystic, proposed many machines. People were trying to patent variations of Fludd's machine in the 1870s. Fludd's machine worked by recirculation by means of a water wheel and Archimedean screw. The device pumps the water back into its own supply tank.
- After 1635, many English perpetual motion machine patents were granted. Several are variations of a machine developed in 12th century India. An original design is a cable projecting 150 miles into the sky to induct electricity (technology at the time would limit its usefulness, as it weighed 80 tons). By 1903, 600 such patents had been granted.
- In 1638, Edward Somerset, 2nd Marquess of Worcester developed a perpetual motion machine. He gained a royal appointment as an inventor and builder. Parliament on June 3, 1663, gave a 99-year patent for his "Watercommanding Engine" (a steam engine). Somerset demonstrated many water wheels to Charles I of England, that had something to do with perpetual motion.
- In 1664, Ulrich von Cranach, a war engineer, of Hamburg, Germany designed a perpetual ball moving machine that did not work in practice. The ball machine had a rotary cannonball which descended by an Archimedean screw along the periphery of a wheel (like a water wheel), rolled through a track, and then were carried back to the top using an Archimedean screw (powered by the ball-wheel). Arthur Ord-Hume illustrated this machine.
- Robert Boyle devised the "perpetual vase" ("perpetual goblet" or "hydrostatic paradox") which was discussed by Denis Papin in the Philosophical Transactions for 1685.
- Johann Bernoulli (also known as Jean Bernoulli) proposed a fluid energy machine. Bernoulli developed the brachistochrone problem in June 1696 and is regarded as a founder of the calculus of variation.
- In 1686, Georg Andreas Böckler, a German architect, engineer, and author, designed 'self operating' self-powered water mills and several perpetual motion machines using balls using variants of Archimedes screws. One of Böckler's machine used an overbalanced wheel and Archimedean screw.
- In 1712, Johann Bessler, also known as Orffyreus, investigated 300 different perpetual motion models and claimed he had the secret of perpetual motion. Though allegation of fraud surfaced later (from a maid in his employment), investigators at the time, such as the lawyer Willem Jacob s'Gravesande, reported no such fraud.
- In the 1760s, James Cox (with the help of John Joseph Merlin) develops a perpetual motion machine (known as the Cox's timepiece). The clock device is powered from changes in atmospheric pressure via a barometer. The clock still exists today [but was deactivated due to the clock's relocation].
- In 1775, the Royal Academy of Sciences in Paris, made the statement that the Academy "will no longer accept or deal with proposals concerning perpetual motion". The reasoning was, that perpetual motion is impossible to achieve and that the search for it is time consuming and very expensive. According to the members of the academy, those bright minds dedicating their time and resources to this search, could be utilized much better in other, more reasonable endeavors. Nevertheless, many individuals continued to propose and build various "perpetual" machines, in a quest of attaining their end goal of free energy.
- In 1790, Doctor Conradus Schiviers made a belt driven wheel. He also offered a machine in which several balls powered a water wheel and a bucket-chain (again raising the balls). Others tried to adapt his designs unsuccessful a century later.
- In 1812, Charles Redheffer, in Philadelphia, claimed to have developed a "generator" that could power other machines. Upon investigation, it was deduced that the power was being routed from the other connected machine. Robert Fulton exposed Redheffer's schemes during an exposition of the device in New York City (1813). Removing some concealing wooden strips, Fulton found a cat-gut belt drive went through a wall to an attic. In the attic, a man was turning a crank to power the device.
- In 1827, Sir William Congreve, an English inventor and rocket pioneer, tried a machine running on capillary action that would disobey the law of never rising above their own level, so to produce a continual ascent and overflow. The device had an inclined plane over pulleys. At the top and bottom, there travels an endless band of sponge, a bed and, over this, again an endless band of heavy weights jointed together. The whole stands over the surface of still water. Congreve believed his system would go on continually.
- In 1866, Henry Prince of Britain described the first partially submerged perpetual motion machine.
- In 1868, an Austrian, Alois Drasch, received a US patent for a machine that possessed a "thrust key-type gearing" of a rotary engine. The vehicle driver could tilt a trough depending upon need. A heavy ball rolled in a cylindrical trough downward, and, with continuous adjustment of the device's levers and power output, Drasch believed that it would be possible to power a vehicle.
- In 1870, E. P. Willis of New Haven, Connecticut made money off a "proprietary" perpetual motion machine. A story of the overly complicated device with a hidden source of energy appears in Scientific American article "The Greatest Discovery Ever Yet Made". Investigation into the device eventually found a source of power that drove it.
- John Ernst Worrell Keely invented, reportedly, an induction resonance motion motor. He is supposedly to have used etheric 'technology'. In 1872, Keely announced that he discovered a principle for power production based on the vibrations of tuning forks. Scientists investigated his machine which appeared to run on water, though Keely endeavored to avoid this. Shortly after 1872, venture capitalists accused Keely of fraud (they lost nearly five million dollars). Keely's machine, it was discovered after his death, was based on hidden air pressure tubes.
- In 1881, John Gamgee developed a liquid ammonia machine which could operate at the boiling point from vaporation by radiant heat. The resultant expansion would drive a piston. The vapor does not condense to liquid to start the cycle over again, however, thus making the system inoperable. The Navy approved of the device and showed it to President James Garfield.
- In 1899, J. M. Aldrich was arrested for getting investors for his free energy machine. Aldrich was never convicted. Reportedly, he continued to run his scheme. Ultimately, an interested investor, upon inspection of the device, found a hidden spring.
- Mark Anthony Zimara of Italy had a huge air-powered machine (basically another attempt at a self blowing windmill). His device is described in Tallmadge G. Kasten's "The Perpetual Motion Machine of Mark Antony Zimara".
- The American, Horace Wickmam, received a patent regarding a machine with many rotating balls.
- A Scottish shoemaker, known as Spence, designed a magnetic based machine which later was discredited.
1900 to 1950
- In 1900, Nikola Tesla claimed to have discovered an abstract method on which to base a perpetual motion machine of the second kind. No prototype was produced. The Serbian American Physicist Inventor wrote:
A departure from known methods - possibility of a "self-acting" engine or machine, inanimate, yet capable, like a living being, of deriving energy from the medium - the ideal way of obtaining motive power.|Nikola Tesla
- In 1917, John Andrews, a Portuguese chemist, had a green powder which he claimed and demonstrated could transform water into gas (referred to as a "gas-water additive"). He reportedly convinced a Navy official that it worked. Andrews disappeared after negotiations began. Andrews' lab was rummaged through and disheveled upon a return visit by USN officials.
- In 1917, Garabed T. K. Giragossian is claimed, reportedly fraudulently, to have developed a free energy machine. Supposedly involved in a conspiracy, Woodrow Wilson signed a resolution offering him protection. The device was a giant flywheel that was charged up with energy slowly and put out a lot of energy for just a second.
- In the 1910s and 1920s, Harry Perrigo of Kansas City, a graduate of MIT, claims development of a free energy device. Perrigo claimed the energy source was "from thin air" or from ether waves. Perrigo demonstrated the device before the U.S. Congress on December 15, 1917. Perrigo had a pending application (filed December 31, 1925; Serial Number 78,719) for the "Improvement in Method and Apparatus for Accumulating and Transforming Ether Electric Energy". Investigators report that his device contained a hidden motor.
- In the 1920s, Thomas Henry Moray demonstrated a "radiant energy device" to many people who were unable to find a hidden power source.
- On June 9, 1925, Hermann Plauson receives which ultilizes spark gaps to convert atmospheric energy.
- In 1928, Lester Hendershot got an Army commandant to endorse his free energy machine. This motor device is said to have had a concealed power source. According to his sons, Lester's notes were lost.
- On March 8, 1928, Edgar Cayce in Chicago, Illinois, describes "Motors with no Fuel" (Reading 4665-1).
- In 1946 John Searl ostensibly created the Searl Effect Generator (SEG) which he had seen how to build in a recurring dream
- After the 1940s, Howard Robert Johnson develops a permanent magnet motor. He receives a US patent, US4151431 , on April 24, 1979. There is little information about the ultimate fate of his device.
1951 to 1980
- Paul Baumann, a German engineer, develops a machine referred to as the "Testatika". The device's operation has been recorded as far back as 1960s at a place called Methernitha (near Berne, Switzerland). Supposedly, the community benefits from the invention.
- In 1962, physicist Richard Feynman postulated a Brownian ratchet that would extract meaningful work from Brownian motion, though he went on to demonstrate how such a device would fail to work in practice.
- In 1966, Josef Papp (sometimes referred to as Joseph Papp or Joseph Papf) supposedly developed an alternative car engine that used inert gases. He gained a few investors but when the engine was publicly demonstrated, an explosion killed one of the observers and injured two others. Mr. Papp blamed the accident on interference by physicist Richard Feynman, who later shared his observations in an article in LASER, Journal of the Southern Californian Skeptics. Papp continued to accept money but never demonstrated another engine.
- Guido Franch reportedly had a process of transmuting water atoms into high-octane gasoline compounds (named Mota fuel) that would decrease the price of gasoline down to 8 cents per gallon. This process involved a green powder (this claim may be related to the similar ones of John Andrews (1917)). He was brought to court for fraud in 1954 but acquitted; but in 1973 was convicted. Justice William Bauer and Justice Philip Romiti both observed a demonstration in the 1954 case.
- In 1958, Otis Carr from Oklahoma, formed a company to manufacture UFO-styled spaceships and hovercrafts. Carr sold stock for this commercial endeavor. He also promoted free energy machines. He claimed inspiration from Nikola Tesla, among others. As of 2004, Dennis Lee (inventor) is using his devices.
- David McClintock claimed to use air as a fuel and had a patent (US2982261 [registered to a Cleo L. McClintock]). The "McClintock Air Motor" is described as a hybrid between a diesel engine and a rotary engine. It, reportedly, consumed no conventional fuel and was self-running (driving an internal air compressor). The device had three cylinders with a compression ratio of 27 to 1, generated high torque outputs, produced heat, and had a solar and planetary gears.
- Edwin V. Gray reportedly develops a Electro-Magnetic Association (EMA) Motor. Skeptical investigation to examine the device was denied (and no neutral or knowledgeable person has tested the device. Skeptics state that the device contains 'depleted' batteries). Supposedly, he unethically raises funding from investors. Gray died in April, 1989, under mysterious circumstances.
- In the 1970s David Hamel produces the Hamel device
- In 1977, Arnold Burke, a religious man, develops a device referred to as "Jeremiah 33:3" (the biblical passage reads "Call to me, and I will answer you, and will tell you great and hidden things which you have not known"). Burke collects $800,000 in investments for his "self acting pump". In 1979, an open test is conducted and the investigators reportedly discover a hidden power source of electricity. Burke and associates later raise $250,000 to pay for a fraud conviction. Burke still claims his device operates.
- On December 20 of 1977, Emil T. Hartman received titled "Permanent magnet propulsion system". (ed., this device is related to the Simple Magnetic Overunity Toy (SMOT))
- In 1977, Robert George Adams (of New Zealand) develops the Adams Motor. Adams had a lot of theories about the Aether .He has sought to receive patents on his work (and has received a UK Patent, GB2282708, with Harold Aspden). Debates over the motor's power measurement still exist. Around 80 years old, Adams is said to have a scientific education and has talked over areas of alternative physics.
- In 1978, Robert Stewart developed a freon machine which could operate at the freezing point from vaporation by radiant heat for a closed cycle engine. The vapor does not condense to liquid to start the cycle over again, however, thus making the system inoperable. This design may be related to John Gamgee's work (1882). Stewart reportedly gained over $3,000,000 of investment money (much from farmers). Stewart later disappeared.
- Rory Johnson, of Elgin, Illinois, claims development of a magnetic motor that operates by a cold fusion, laser-activated process. The device weighed 475 lb (215 kg). The fuel source was said to have been 2 lb (1 kg) of deuterium. The device reportedly produces 525 hp (391 kW). Johnson stated that it would drive a large truck or bus 100,000 miles (160,000 km). Johnson entered into several contracts over his device. Johnson later moved all his lab equipment to California and died shortly afterwards.
- In 1978, R. Jeseph Maglich, a physicist, claims development of an overunity device which brought under control and put to use fusion power from sea water. This may be related to the fusion generator developed first by Doctor Bogdan Maglish at Princeton, New Jersey (in 1973).
- On February 14 of 1978, Daniel Baker received , titled "Magnetic propulsion device",
- In 1979, Howard R. Johnson receives which is titled "Permanent magnet motor".
- Keith Kenyon claims development of an overunity device. Calculations seemed to not take power factor (also known as phase angle) into account. Demonstration never openly hooked up the output to its input.
- Bill Muller and Carmen Muller, both of Germany, develop "The Muller Motor - Generator". They raise investments for the device. Reportedly, no demonstration and examination of a working model has taken place.
- Stephen Walker begins promoting a permanent magnet motor. As of November 2002, Stephen claims working samples will be available by mail. By December 12 of that same year, Stephen rescinds the offer (contact unavailable). As of 2004, again is promising the device.
1981 to 1999
- In 1984, Joseph Newman claims development of a free energy device based, reportedly, on alternative physics. Newman sued the U.S. patent office to recognize his device. Previous analysis of the device incorrectly measured the true power output of the machine. Calculation for power did not account for the non-sinusoidal current consumption. Newman, initially open to testing, now (reportedly) refuses to ship a unit for testing. In the 1970s, Newman presented a week-long demonstration in the Louisiana Superdome in New Orleans (attended by 9,000 people from across the country). Newman is suing some former investors, who, he claims, are trying to steal the design.
- In 1984, the Kromery converter purports to exploit resonance effects to cause a lead-acid battery to recharge itself. Glowing claims are made for its performance. However, the "explanation" given for the operation of the converter is scientifically illiterate, incoherent rubbish, and the tests described on the page are meaningless.
- In 1985, Greg Watson of Australia claims the development of the Simple Magnetic Overunity Toy (SMOT). In the SMOT, a steel ball is pulled up a ramp by magnetism and then falls, so the magnetic energy is converted into kinetic energy. Watson claims that an effect called "regauging" then happens, allowing the process to be repeated without the application of outside energy. In 1997, he sells kits for the device. Skeptics state that attempts at replication have failed. Reportedly, investors were not able to regain their investments.
- John Bedini claimed development of several free energy devices. Bedini has, reportedly, refused to allow independent investigation.
- In 1986, Bruce De Palma claimed development of an overunity machine (referred to as the "N-Machine" or "N Machine") that was described as a closed path Homopolar generator with output four times more power than consumed. It used a one-piece rotor rather than today's conventional two piece rotor and stator electric generators. It was basically a magnetized gyroscope. De Palma has been unwilling to help independent investigators, like PSITRON, analyze his device. One Electrical Engineering professor analysed this device, but skeptics claim the investigation contained a measurement error. De Palma was an associate of Richard C. Hoagland. De Palma died in 1997.
- Since 1988, Dennis Lee has promised to demonstrate free electricity. Lee claims possession of a Fischer engine, a Counter Rotating Device (CRD) device, and an overunity motor. Lee has a mixture of religious and extremist political beliefs. Lee has invested in John Searl's endeavors, Stanley Meyer's endeavors, and, in 2001, joined Paul Pantone in a US state tour. Tom Napier believes Lee's device may have resurrected Gamgee's designs (1881).
- Stephan Marinov, a Bulgarian physicist, claims the development of a free energy machine. Marinov, supposedly, measured absolute speed and direction of the Milky Way inside a closed room by "first means" and "third means". Marinov states that he was contacted by the Methernitha "cult" and discovered their secret. Before releasing the information, he committed suicide on July 15, 1997.
- Reidar Finsrud of Frogn, Norway, develops a "moving sculpture" in which he claims a metal ball can theoretically move forever without outside influence. He claims the ball will continue to move "until the sculpture falls apart". The ball has been reported to move for many days uninterrupted.
- Dr. Yuri S. Potapov of Kishinev, Moldova, claims development of (and subsequently sold) an overunity electrothermal water-based generator (referred to as "Yusmar 1"). He founded the YUSMAR company to promote his device. Reportedly, the device did not work and investors were not able to regain their investments.
- CETI claimed development of a device that outputs anomalous (yet small) amounts of heat - maybe cold fusion. Skeptics state that inaccurate measure for friction effects from the cooling flow through the pellets may be responsible for the data. Jed Rothwell (editor of Infinite Energy Magazine) states that "tests with CETI cells at Motorola, SRI and the French Atomic Energy Commission show no measurable friction.
- Paramahamsa Tewari of India claimed development of a device that is 200% efficient electrical generator. (Skeptics claim his measurement is questionable).
- Bruce Perreault has claimed to discover a new element, developed the plasmatron, designed an ion pump, and is developing several "radiant energy" devices.
- Brian Collin of Australia claims he received a revelation from God that inspired him to make a free energy device. Investors have not been able to recoup their funding (around $80,000). No information is available (as of 2004) as to if the design was tested.
- Around 1990, Don Watts of Las Vegas, claimed development of the Centrifugal Energy Amplification and Conversion Unit (CEACU). Rumors state that there was a patent for the device. Reportedly, the devices was part of an investment fraud scheme.
- During the 1990s, Kawai and Takahashi, both of Japan, claimed to have independently developed magnetic motors. These have been reportedly evaluated by Magnetic Power, Inc. Neither device tested has proven to function as overunity under load, according to the investigators. Skeptics state that it did nothing more than drain batteries. Reportedly, there are patents issued in Japan for both the Takahashi engine and the Kawai engine. The Takahashi engine is, supposedly, being used in a motor-scooter that can be driven long range on one battery (at around 50 mph). As of last reports, production has begun on the engine and the inventor is scaling up the motor to drive automobiles.
- In 1991, Troy Reed of Oklahoma claimed development of a small permanent magnet motor prototype (and, later, a larger unit). The device consists of permanent magnets placed on four disks (eight each). Two outer disks are stationary. Two inner ones are mounted on a common rotating shaft. Reed has issued licences for manufacturing the motor and received investment money for the overunity device.
- In 1996, Stanley Meyer of Fayette County, Ohio, claims development of a water-powered car. Meyer has obtained over 28 patents. Meyer has a mixture of Christianity and patriotic politics intertwined with protoscience theory. Meyer was convicted of fraud (after testing a Water Fuel Cell before an Ohio judge). Meyer was not prosecuted for the invention, but for selling "dealerships". Meyer refused independent measurement and investigation of his device. Meyers died in early 1998.
- In January 1998, Barbara Hickox of New Mexico announces the possession of the patent US4249096, Electric Dynamo (1981). The device consists of a central rotating helix non-conductive cylinder into which small cylindrical permanent magnets are placed (one pole outward). The cost of the systems, reportedly, totals around $7500. Hickox reportedly developed the device with Howard Hughes and his test pilot. Skeptics state that the system is based on "fusion power".
- In 1999, Sanjay Amin of Youngstown, Ohio, established Entropy Systems Inc. (ESI). The company received $3.5 million dollar investment for a device that is claimed to violate the second law of thermodynamics, producing power by absorbing heat from atmospheric air (and that external reservoir can be at any temperature (even sub-zero)). The technology had been patented in the United States, Europe, and Australia. The technology has been tested by experts at the Ford Motor Company, Youngstown University, Purdue University, and Pennsylvania State University. Skeptics state that there was a measurement error in the previous investigations.
- In 1999, Robert "Paul" LeBreton claimed development of the "Millennium Motor" (in essence, a permanent magnet motor). The device, supposedly, operates without fuel or vehicle battery packs. A 600 horsepower (447 kW) prototype reportedly has been constructed. Skeptics claim he is mentally disturbed.
- In 1999, Renzo Boscoli of Italy claims to have developed a method for low-energy nuclear reactions. Boscoli did not give a demonstration nor supply proof that was promised to Infinite Energy Magazine investigators.
As the 21st century began, fossil fuel was still relatively cheap, but rising concerns over energy security
, global warming
, and eventual fossil fuel depletion
led to an expansion of interest in all available forms of alternative energy
. The steady run-up in oil prices after 2003
led to increasing fears that peak oil
was imminent, further increasing interest in commercial wind power. Earlier oil shocks
had already caused many utility and industrial users of petroleum to shift to coal
or natural gas
. Natural gas began having its own supply problems, and wind power showed potential for replacing natural gas in electricity generation.
- In 2001, Carl Tilley and Robert Kibbey in Tennessee claimed to have built an over-unity device. A 9 February 2001 demonstration failed and they have not attempted a demonstration since.
- In 2002, the GWE (Genesis World Energy) group claimed to have 400 people who developed some device that appears to separate water into H2 and O2 using less energy than conventionally thought possible. No independent confirmation was ever made of their claims, and in 2006, company founder Patrick Kelly was sentenced to five years in prison for stealing funds from investors.
- On March 26, 2002, the Motionless Electrical Generator (MEG) was patented (U.S. Patent 6362718) by five inventors: Stephen L. Patrick, Thomas E. Bearden, James C. Hayes, James L. Kenny, and Kenneth D. Moore. There is as yet no working prototype, and in 2006, Bearden claimed he still needed 10 to 12 million dollars to develop a commercial product based on the technology.
- In 2006, Steorn Ltd. claimed to have built an overunity device based on rotating magnets, and took out an advertisement soliciting scientists to test their claims. The selection process for twelve began in September 2006 and concluded in December 2006 The selected jury has started investigating Steorn's claims. A public demonstration scheduled for July 4th 2007 was canceled due to "technical difficulties."
- In late 2006, Erke Energy Research and Engineering Corporation located in Istanbul, Turkey claimed to have produced a free energy generator 'based on the principle of inertia'. No further details were provided
- In 2008, Thane Heins claimed to have developed a perpetual motion machine based on "Back EMF" He christened the device Perepiteia, and it is currently under review by physicists.
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