Etheric Generator

» KEELY, John E.W. : Motor ~ Clara Bloomfield-Moore : Keely  & His Discoveries ( Aerial Navigation, 1893 )[ PDF, 10 MB ]; the classic book on Sympathetic Vibratory Force, the notorious Keely Motor, &c.

John Ernst Worrell Keely

John Ernst Worrell Keely (September 3, 1837 – November 18, 1898) was an American inventor from Philadelphia who claimed to have discovered a new motive power which was originally described as "vaporic" or "etheric" force, and later as an unnamed force based on "vibratory sympathy", by which he produced "interatomic ether" from water and air. Despite numerous requests from the stockholders of the Keely Motor Company, which had been established to produce a practicable motor based on his work, he consistently refused to reveal to them the principles on which his motor operated, and also repeatedly refused demands to produce a marketable product by claiming that he needed to perform more experiments.

He secured substantial investments from many people, among whom was John Jacob Astor IV.


Born in Chester, Pennsylvania, John Keely was orphaned in early childhood and was raised by his grandparents. Before becoming an inventor, he worked as a member of a theatrical orchestra, a painter, a carpenter, a carnival barker, and as a mechanic.


In 1872, Keely invited scientists to attend a demonstration at his laboratory at 1422 North Twentieth Street Philadelphia, of a machine which he asserted was motivated by a new and hitherto unknown force. Keely announced that he had discovered a principle for power production based on the musical vibrations of tuning forks and that music could resonate with atoms or with the aether. Public interest was aroused and within a few months the Keely Motor Company was formed in New York, with a capital of $5,000,000.,[1] equivalent to $95 million in 2013.[2]

Keely's theories

Keely delivered descriptions of the supposed principles of his process on various occasions.

In 1884, following the demonstration of his "Vaporic gun":

Stripping the process of all technical terms, it is simply this: I take water and air, two mediums of different specific gravity, and produces from them by generation an effect under vibrations that liberates from the air and water an inter atomic ether. The energy of this ether is boundless and can hardly be comprehended. The specific gravity of the ether is about four times lighter than that of hydrogen gas, the lightest gas so far discovered. — New York Times, 22 September 1884[3]

Following a demonstration in June 1885:

It is an elaboration of interatomic ether by vibration. The atomic ether vibrates all around the molecules of matter. There is a magnetic force attached to it at the same time, and it assimilates with the molecular atomic aggregations - that is, assimilates with a certain attractive force that it is hard to tell what it is. I call it a vibratory negative. It don't act like a magnet drawing metals toward it. There is a certain magnetic effect about it that causes it to adhere by vibratory rotation to different forms of matter - that is the molecular, atomic, etheric, and ether-etheric. The impulse is given by metallic impulses, the rotary power that is formed by etheric vibration - that is the force that holds it in position. — New York Times, 7 June 1885[4]

In the 19th century most physicists believed that all of space was filled with a medium called the "Luminiferous aether" (or "ether"), a hypothetical substance which was thought necessary for the transmission of electromagnetic waves and to the propagation of light, which was believed to be impossible in "empty" space. In 1887, an experiment was performed by Albert A. Michelson and Edward W. Morley to attempt to confirm the existence of the ether. The experiment, named the Michelson-Morley experiment after the two scientists, shocked the scientific community by giving results which implied the ether's non-existence. This result was later used by Albert Einstein to refute the ether's existence, and to develop special relativity.

Etheric generator

On November 10, 1874, Keely gave a demonstration of an "etheric generator" to a small group of people in Philadelphia. Keely blew into a nozzle for half a minute, then poured five gallons of tap water into the same nozzle. After some adjustments a pressure gauge indicated pressures of 10,000 psi which Keely said was evidence that the water had been disintegrated and a mysterious vapor had been liberated in the generator, capable of powering machinery. In subsequent demonstrations he kept changing the terminology he used, to "vibratory-generator" to a "hydro-pneumatic-pulsating-vacu-engine" to "quadruple negative harmonics". It was later reported that the witnesses of the demonstration were so impressed that they formed a stock company, purchased patent rights for the six New England states, and paid $50,000 in cash for their share in the invention.[5]

The New York Times reported in June 1875 that Keely's new motive power was generated from cold water and air and evolved into a vapor "more powerful than steam, and considerably more economical". It reported that Keely refused to disclose what the vapor was or how it was generated until he had taken out patents in "all the countries of the globe which issue patent rights" which was estimated would cost around $30,000.[5]

Keely said that the discovery of this new energy source was accidental. He said that the apparatus by which it was generated was called a "generator" or "multiplicator", from where it was then passed into a "receiver" and from there to the cylinders of a steam engine. The "generator" was reported as being about 3 ft (0.91 m), made of Austrian gunmetal in one piece, and holding about 10 or 12 gallons of water. Its inside was made up of cylindrical chambers connected by pipes and fitted with stopcocks and valves. The "receiver" or "reservoir" was about 40 in (1,000 mm) long by 6 in (150 mm) in diameter and connected to the "generator" by a 1 in (25 mm) diameter pipe. Keely claimed that his apparatus would generate his "vapor" from water solely by mechanical means without using any chemicals and claimed to be able to produce 2,000 psi in 5 seconds.[5]

Clara Jessup Bloomfield Moore

In 1881, Keely met Clara Jessup Bloomfield Moore, the wealthy widow of a Philadelphia industrialist who had the year before established the Bloomfield Moore art collection. Mrs Moore became acquainted with Keely through her interest in scientific subjects, and remained his friend and patron up to the time of his death. She invested $100,000 plus a monthly salary of $250 (around $2.2 million and $5400/month in today's values [1]) so that he could devote his entire time and energy to the perfection of his motor and widely advocated him and his work, producing many articles and books.[6]

Her family did not approve of her assuming obligations which they believed the company should fulfill under its contract with Keely. She made an arrangement with Keely on 12 April 1890 to furnish him with an additional $2,000 a month for his household and shop expenses and for instruments of research, which was to expire when he had gained sufficient control of his unknown force to enable him to resume his work under the direction of the management of the company upon a provisional engine. This arrived in December 1890, when Mrs Bloomfield Moore handed over to the Directors bills that had been presented since the expiration of Mr. Keely's contract with her.[7]

Stockholder suit

On 14 December 1881 the stockholders of the Keely Motor Company held a meeting at which a report was read that complained that while they had faith in the merits of Keely's invention, the inventor was unreasonably secretive of the principles and operating methods of his apparatus. He had assured them that the "generator" had been perfected a year before, and that the "multiplicator" was also now perfected, and they considered it only fair and reasonable that the secrets of the machinery be revealed to them. They recommended that some intelligent and trustworthy person be taken into Keely's confidence "so that in the case of accident they would not be totally without a clue to the invention". The report complained at some length about Keely's uncommunicativeness and said that it was the experience of everyone who had come into contact with him over the previous ten years that "any attempt at a serious investigation of his operations has been met on his part with deception and misrepresentation".[8]

Keely was reluctant to reveal his secrets, and filed a demurrer on 20 January 1882 to the bill in equity presented against him by the Keely Motor Company's stockholders. The demurrer was described as entirely technical, and gave a number of reasons why the court should not afford the plaintiffs the relief they sought.[9] Argument was heard on the demurrer in Philadelphia's Court of Common Pleas on 27 March, when it was argued that the inventor "could not be made to expose that which no one knew but himself and which was hidden in his own brain".[10] However, Keely was overruled by Judge Pierce on 1 April 1882, who ordered him to "make known his process in the way indicated in the bill filed by the Keely Motor Company".[11]

On 24 May Keely filed his answer to the stockholders' equity suit. He admitted the truth of the complainants' bill regarding the contract, and added that although, due to "certain abstruse difficulties by reason of the nature and qualities of the said force", he had so far failed to bring his inventions into practical use, he believed he would ultimately succeed.[12]

In June 1882 a committee appointed by the Company's board of directors agreed that one William Boekel of Philadelphia was to be "instructed by Mr. Keely in the construction and operation of his inventions".[13]

The annual meeting of the Company's stockholders on 13 December 1882 heard a report from Boekel in which he stated that what Keely claimed to have discovered was "the fact that water in its natural state is capable of being, by vibratory motion, disintegrated so that its molecular structure is broken up, and there is evolved therefrom a permanent expansive gas or ether, which result is produced by mechanical action". Boekel said that it would be improper to describe the mechanism used, and added that Keely had discovered all that he had claimed.[14] It was later discovered by a Times reporter in August that Boekle had not yet been entrusted with the secrets of the motor as promised by Keely, and that the inventor kept delaying matters by telling Boekle that he could explain it to him in less than two hours after it was completed, and that he had not done so already because the engine had not yet reached that state.[15]

On 28 August 1883, at the monthly meeting of the Company's directors, it was announced that Keely's engine would be ready for operation around the first week in September, and that a final inspection of it by the Trustees would be conducted on 29 August, at which the stockholders were expected to be present. When the inspection was made the following day, however, Keely said that it would not be ready for another six weeks.[16]

On 29 October 1883 it was reported that the Company's stockholders were to bring another suit against the inventor in the name of the company for "fulfilment of his many pledges".[17] At a meeting of the Board of Directors the following day, Keely made a statement explaining his progress, saying that he was constructing a street chamber to hold his vapor and that when this was complete a demonstration would be given, and his explanation was voted "very satisfactory" by the directors.[18]

At the annual stockholders' meeting on 12 December 1883 a letter from Keely was read out, in which the inventor said that he could not see why he might not fulfil the shareholders' expectations in the next two months and suggested that the stockholders' meeting be postponed to 1 February 1884. This proposal met with some disagreement from some stockholders, and it was decided to give Keely no funds for the next 60 days.[19] When the promised stockholders' meeting was held on 1 February 1884, another postponement was announced at Keely's request.[20] A board meeting which took place on 25 March 1884 reported that the vibratory engine was finished, that "the work of adjusting and focalizing is progressing rapidly", and that Keely had set the date for the demonstration of the motor to take place on or before 10 April.[21]

Vaporic gun

On 20 September 1884 Keely demonstrated a "vaporic gun" at Sandy Hook to a party of Government officials. He said that he had brought with him five gallons of "vaporic force" in a "receiver" which, if the experiments were successful, would show that no bogus aids had been used. The gun was described as a small gun with a 1.25 in (32 mm) bore, resting on wheels, with an iron "receiver" 4.5 ft (1.4 m) long containing Keely's mysterious force connected to it by "an iron wire tube" 3/16" (5 mm) in diameter. Keely rammed a small lead ball about 5 oz (140 g) in weight into the gun's muzzle, then tapped the iron "receiver" with a hammer. He explained that this was to stimulate the "vibratory force". He then turned a handle and the ball was fired from the gun with a short, sharp report but no smoke and very little recoil. It was reported that the projectile had been fired a distance of 300 yd (270 m). More shots were fired and their velocity measured; one attained 482 ft/s (147 m/s), another 492 ft/s (150 m/s), and yet another 523 ft/s (159 m/s). The gun was also tested by firing against three 3 in (76 mm) thick spruce planks and penetrated the first and went halfway through the second. Keely said that he had used a pressure of 7,000 psi and could use 30,000 psi.[22]

The following day Keely met with a reporter to whom he declared that his experimenting days were over and that complete success was close. He announced that his motor would be completed in less than two months and that he would then make a public exhibition of its powers.[3]

The vaporic gun failed to impress Lieutenant E.L. Zalinski, who had witnessed the demonstration. He told the President of the Keely Motor Company, A.R. Edey, that with the same apparatus he could perform the same experiments with compressed air, and go even further than Keely had gone. Edey said he would "speak about it to Mr. Keely," but offer was not accepted. Zalinski said that none of the experiments at Sandy Hook showed that Keely had discovered a new force.[23]

Zalinski later attended a demonstration at Keely's workshop in November, in place of Colonel John Hamilton. He later reported that he suggested to Keely that it would be a more complete test of his power if he would discharge a large reservoir which he showed his guests, and then recharge it using his generator. Keely declined to do this, on the grounds that it would take two hours - despite his many statements that he could generate force in a few seconds - and that the reservoir had been "carefully negatized". Keely also claimed to have achieved pressures of 50,000 psi, and that he had broken all his pressure gauges. When Zalinski produced a pressure gauge he had brought with him - capable of registering 10,000 psi - and offered it to Keely, saying "I would like to have you put it on, and break it for me", Keely was momentarily lost for words before saying, "I do not believe in pressure gauges, anyhow."[24]

June 1885 demonstration

On 6 June 1885 Keely gave what he called "an exhibition" of his motor at his workshop at North Twentieth Street, Philadelphia. Around 20 witnesses attended, including newspaper reporters, a mechanical engineer, and officers and stockholders of the Keely Motor Company. A reporter noticed a "large iron globular object" which he was told was a new engine which Keely was engaged in building.[4]

Keely assembled an apparatus on top of which was screwed a globe with several apertures to which tubes were fixed, leading to cylinders. A reporter asked if he could see the globe's contents, but Keely declined, saying that it would take too long, and that he wished to show results rather than the mechanism. Keely then proceeded by taking a violin bow and rubbing it across one of two large tuning forks which formed part of his apparatus. After making a minor adjustment to the device, he opened a stopcock leading into one of the cylinders and the witnesses heard "a hiss as of escaping air". Keely told them that it was in fact "etheric vapor", adding "It ain't compressed air or any vapor having substance." The force was then used to lift some weights, and Keely claimed that he had about 22,000 psi of pressure at his disposal.[4]

A further demonstration was given, of a rotating iron globe suspended on an axle, which was used to saw some wood. The globe was not opened, Keely saying that it was hollow and empty, and his assistants saying that it contained "some bits of mechanism". A sceptical reporter, who believed that it was in fact operating on compressed air, asked how long the engine could work. Keely replied that he had one run for 40 days, whereupon the reporter suggested he simply run it for half an hour, just making the globe rotate. Keely duly set the globe rotating, and it ran for less than 15 minutes, constantly decreasing in power, before he stopped it.[4]

On 26 March 1886 Keely performed a demonstration before a committee of scientists and engineers from New York, where he obtained a pressure of 2,700 psi apparently by using a single pint of water, and then doubled the pressure by adding more water. Keely claimed that the "etheric force" by which these results were obtained would be utilized as fully as possible in the 25,000 hp engine on which he was then working.[25]

The stockholders of the Keely Motor Company met on 14 December 1887, and expressed their confidence in Keely's ultimate success. Keely did not attend the meeting, but supplied a report in which he reviewed his efforts and experiments since 1882 and announced that he had abandoned "etheric force" in favour of a new force which was unnamed but which he said was based on "vibratory sympathy".[26]

Wilson suit

On 3 January 1888 an injunction was granted against Keely on behalf of complainant Bennett C. Wilson, who said that in 1863 he had entered into an agreement with Keely, whom he had originally engaged to varnish furniture. The agreement was that Wilson was to find tools and materials and pay the expenses of inventions made by Keely, Keely agreeing that all inventions so made, and patents obtained, should be equally owned by him and Wilson. On 14 August 1869 Keely assigned a half ownership in what was referred to as the "Keely motor" to Wilson, who claimed that Keely had then assigned all rights and title to the invention later that same month in return for funds.[27]

Wilson alleged that he had only recently become aware that the machine called the "Keely motor" was the same as the one constructed in 1869 and assigned to him. He asked for an injunction restraining Keely from removing the machine or altering its construction or mode of operation, and requested that an order also be made compelling Keely to exhibit to the complainant all models, machines, and drawings of the invention referred to in the assignments to Wilson, and that an order be made compelling Keely to fully disclose the invention and the mode of constructing and operating it.[27]

On 7 April a formal order was made directing Bennett Wilson, his attorney, and four experts, to make a full and detailed inspection of the Keely motor, its mode of construction, and principle of operation within 30 days. The four experts were named as Dr. Charles M. Cresson, Analytical Chemist of City and State Boards of Health; Thomas Shaw, mechanical engineer; William D. Marks, civil engineer and Professor of Dynamical Engineering at the University of Pennsylvania; and Jacob Naylor, iron founder and President of the Eighth National Bank. The result of the inspection was to make known only whether the present Keely motor was or was not the same apparatus that he was alleged to have assigned to Wilson in 1869.[28]

On 18 September it was revealed that Keely had not yet obeyed the court order, despite the time span having been increased to 60 days, and a lawyer representing Bennett Wilson said he believed Keely never would comply with the order and that he had never intended to do so.[29] Finally, on 17 November 1888, Keely was jailed in Moyamensing Prison for contempt of court for refusing the court order to "operate and explain the mode of operation" of the Keely Motor.[30] However, he was soon released on bail on 20 November by three judges of the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania.[31]

Finally, on 28 January 1889, the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania handed down an opinion reversing the order committing Keely to prison for contempt, and ordered his discharge. The opinion declared that the order commanding Keely to "exhibit, explain, and operate his motor" was premature, and that the court had no right to enforce the order by committing Keely to jail for contempt.[32]

On March 28, 1889 Keely's counsel announced that the inventor had the "missing link" which was needed to make the "vibratory resonator and ethereal generative evaporator" a success. It was described as a copper tube in the form of a loop, with the ends welded together so that no joint could be seen, and had been made in copper due to that metal's "resonant properties". A private demonstration of Keely's motor was promised as soon as the tube was "adjusted", and was stated as likely to occur "in a week or two".[33]

At the Keely Motor Company's stockholders' meeting in December, a report was read from Keely in which he discussed the difficulties he had had with the Board of Directors during 1889 and said that while the work of "graduating" or adjusting his provisional engine had not progressed as rapidly as he had expected, no serious obstacles had presented themselves, and there were no difficulties affecting the principle or "essence" of his work. While he could not give a timescale for when the graduation of the engine would be completed, Keely said that it would not be a protracted period, and that when it was finished, one or more engines would at once be ordered.[34]

In June 1895 the trade journal Electricity published a challenge to Keely, in which they said that they would undertake to repeat every phenomenon produced by Keely within 60 days. Keely ignored this challenge.[35]

After an absence of several years in England, Mrs Moore returned to the US to deal with litigation concerning her late husband's estate. Her advocacy of Keely and his inventions formed part of the case and she decided to strengthen her position by getting eminent physicists to examine his inventions. Among those invited were Thomas Edison and Nikola Tesla, both of whom declined the opportunity for various reasons.[36]

Keely again informed the directors of his company in early November 1895 that "before the end of the year" he would "positively be all through with his work to prove conclusively that" he has devised "a practical commercial working engine" operated by his new force.[35]

On 14 November it was reported that another meeting had been arranged between Keely and Mrs Bloomfield Moore and New York capitalists headed by John Jacob Astor IV, who were interested in the Keely Motor Company.[37] It was reported the following week that Astor had purchased a large interest in the motor from "a person who for some years past has been an enthusiastic advocate of M. Keely".[35]

Also in November 1895, Mrs Moore invited Addison B. Burk, president of the Spring Garden Institute to make an inspection. Burk asked if electrical engineer E. Alexander Scott of the Engineers Club could accompany him, and this was agreed to. In the event, Scott took charge of the investigation as he was familiar with Keely and had talked to him in 1874.[1][36]

Scott made several visits to Keely's workshop, beginning on 9 November 1895, and was shown many demonstrations. Among these was a levitation experiment where heavy weights in sealed flasks of water were made to rise and fall in response to differently pitched sounds from a zither, to activate a "globe liberator" which then transmitted "the aetheric force" through a wire to the water container. This had been shown to many investors and investigators. Scott was accompanied by Burk on his second and third visits and when the two analysed what they had seen they concluded that compressed air had been used in nearly all the experiments, in some cases alongside another more powerful but hidden force. The demonstration with the rising and falling weights was powered by compressed air via a thin tube which Keely had assured Burk and Scott was a solid wire and which was a common feature in nearly every piece of apparatus in Keely's laboratory.[38]

Burk and Scott reported their findings to Mrs Moore, who was concerned by the negative report, and also by dismissive articles in the press. It was reported on 22 March 1896 that Mrs Bloomfield Moore had arranged with Professor Wentworth Lascelles Scott of London to investigate Keely's claims of etheric force and also to examine his other inventions. It was said that "an important series of tests will be made in the presence of the scientist".[39] Lascelles Scott was allowed to examine whatever he wanted and had complete instructions on its use from Keely. After spending a month investigating, Lascelles Scott stated to a meeting of the Franklin Institute that "Keely has demonstrated to me, in a way which is absolutely unquestionable, the existence of a force hitherto unknown."[38]

Since Lascelles Scott and Alexander Scott disagreed, they were brought together to witness more demonstrations by Keely. Mrs Moore suggested that a definitive test would be to cut the wire that Scott alleged was in fact an air pipe, but Keely flatly refused to do so and Mrs Moore, her faith shaken, reduced Keely's monthly salary.

On 24 December 1895 Mrs Bloomfield Moore said that due to the position taken by the managers of the old Keely Motor Company at the annual meeting, and the delay on the part of the stockholders in accepting his proposition for a reorganization, Keely had decided not to take out any patents on his inventions, and would instead adopt a royalty system in dealing with his inventions commercially. Mrs Moore said that at least 30 patents would be required, which would take much time and money which would be better used in developing Keely's system.[40]

On 18 June 1897 Keely demonstrated his new etheric engine to the General Manager of the Manhattan Elevated Railway, the Chief Engineer of Western Union, and a representative of the Metropolitan Traction Company. All were reported as being surprised at the force produced by Keely's new motor, but declined to express any opinion as to its value. The engine was reported as weighing about 200 lb (91 kg) and being capable of developing 10 hp.[41]


Keely died at his home in Philadelphia from pneumonia on 18 November 1898.[42] His will was admitted to probate on 1 December, and bequeathed his entire estate of about $10,000 to his widow, Anna M. Keely, who was appointed his executor. The will made no reference to his motor.[43]

Keely is buried in West Laurel Hill Cemetery in Bala Cynwyd, Pennsylvania.

The first meeting of the Keely Motor Company's stockholders following his death was held on 20 December 1898. Charles S. Hill, his widow's attorney, stated that Keely's secret did not exist in manuscript form, but that Keely had suggested before his death that an inventor, Thomas Burton Kinraide of Boston, was the one man who could successfully carry on his work. Hill then announced that he had a secret which he would pass on to only one person. This secret, he said, was "of a nature to encourage the stockholders and to induce them to leave everything in Kinraide's hands for one year". John J. Smith, one of the Company's Directors, was appointed to confer with Hill, and later reported that the secret told to him by Hill "offered great encouragement to the stockholders" but did not divulge any further details.[44]

In January 1899 Kinraide had 20 large packing cases transported to his laboratory in Jamaica Plain, Boston, said to contain the material part of Keely's motor. Kinraide said that he had often talked with Keely about the principles of his invention and said that he felt he knew more about it than any other person. He was to continue with Keely's experiments at the request of Mr. and Mrs Keely.[45] However, on 6 May 1899 it was reported that Kinraide had abandoned all work on the Keely motor and was to return all the machines and notes to the Keely Company. He stated that he wanted nothing more to do with the motor due to the notoriety caused him by the Philadelphia Press's report and when asked whether he thought the motor was a fraud simply replied that he had not arrived at any such conclusion and had decided to make no further investigations.[46]

Philadelphia Press investigation

On 19 January 1899 The Philadelphia Press published an illustrated article detailing an investigation made by the newspaper of Keely's workshop, in which the Press contended that the investigation had clearly proven Keely's motor to have been "a delusion and deception" and that its alleged mysterious forces were the result of trickery.[47]

The investigation, which took a week, was assisted by consulting engineer Professor Carl Hering, Assistant Professor of Physics at the University of Pennsylvania Professor Arthur W. Goodspeed, Professor of Experimental Psychology at the University of Pennsylvania Lightner Witmer, and Doctor M. G. Miller, who superintended digging operations. Electrical engineer Clarence B. Moore, the son of Mrs. Bloomfield Moore, was an observer. The scientists involved substantiated the report with signed statements.[47]

The floors of Keely's workshop were taken up and a brick wall was removed. Inside the wall they found mechanical belts linked to a silent water motor two floors below the laboratory. In the basement there was a three-ton sphere of compressed air that ran the machines through hidden high pressure tubes and switches. The walls, ceilings and even solid beams were found to have concealed tubes. Journalists documented everything photographically to leave no room for doubt. Hering and Goodspeed were of the opinion that the tubing and the large steel sphere in the basement indicated the use of normal forces and possible deception, and Hering said in his signed statement that Keely had probably lied and deceived, and was satisfied that he had used highly compressed air to power his demonstrations.[47]

At a meeting of the Keely Motor Company's board on 25 January 1899, President B. L. Ackerman issued a statement denying the Philadelphia Press report. The statement claimed that the tubes mentioned in the report had been discarded by Keely years before, and that in all his experiments since 1887 only solid wires had been used. Up to that time, it was stated, Keely had been working on a theory of etheric or vaporic force, and used the tubes to convey this force, but after 1887 he was convinced that he had discovered what he called "vibratory sympathy". A concealed electric wire discovered in Keely's workshop was described by Ackerman as the remains of the wires of a burglar alarm, and in no way connected with the force used by Keely's motor. The statement denied all assertions that Keely was an imposter, and declared that there was no trickery in any of the results that Keely had claimed to have obtained.[48]

Present day

Today, Philadelphia has forgotten all about its infamous resident. Even Keely's old house has completely disappeared and the site is now a private parking lot for the property next door.[49] A model of Keely's engine was in the collection of the Franklin Institute in Philadelphia, and an "Etheric Force Machine" of his dating from 1878 is in the American Precision Museum in Windsor, Vermont.

Keely still has supporters, who continue to claim that he was framed.

"Unfortunately the history books took the Scientific American debunking as fact and John Keely has been portrayed historically as a fraud and a conman. This is because Clarence Moore found the floor of Keely's 'workshop' raised and saw a pressure machine that was hooked up to his machines to make them look like they actually worked. Those who have any inkling of physics who have studied what remains of his work, know these reports to be mostly erroneous." — Jerry Decker,

Dale Pond's Was Keely a Fraud? argues against the idea that Keely was a fraud.

Keely's theories form the basis of Sympathetic Vibratory Physics which is detailed within the SVPwiki where the bulk of his found writings are presented for study.

Keely's theories were featured prominently in the 1998 book Gods of Eden by Andrew Collins, in relation to the theoretical use of SVP-based devices as systems of levitation.

Note: In 2005 Jeff and Rita Behary found the original glass plate negatives of the Keely Motor taken by Thomas Burton Kinraide in his Jamaica Plain home Ravenscroft. They show the contents of the Keely Motor and are the last known photos [50]of the motor ever taken. Kinraide discovered evidence of plain fraud within the motor but did not wish this information to be published because Keely was a close friend and he did not wish to further tarnish his name in the press. The photos can be found here :


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^ "KEELY'S MOTOR IN BOSTON.; Mr. Kinraide to Continue Experiments with the Invention." (PDF), The New York Times, 4 January 1899
^ "KEELY MOTOR ABANDONED.; T. Burton Kinraide Will Have No More to Do with It." (PDF), The New York Times, 7 May 1899
^ a b c "Keely's Secret Disclosed.; Scientists Examine His Laboratory and Discover Hidden Tubes in Proof of His Deception." (PDF), The New York Times, 20 January 1899
^ "DENIES KEELY WAS AN IMPOSTOR; President of the Motor Company Defends the Dead Inventor." (PDF), The New York Times, 26 January 1889
^ Ord-Hume, p. 150
^ The last known photos of the Keely Motor.
New York Times, 21 September 1884


( PDF )
The New York Times, 20 January 1899

"Keely's Secret Disclosed.; Scientists Examine His Laboratory and Discover Hidden Tubes in Proof of His Deception."

( PDF )

A presentation of The Nature and Dynamics of Vibration, Oscillation & Spin

Jeremy Pfeiffer reference imagery and concepts observed in modes of acoustic vibrations. SVP and late 18th century etheric science as taught to me by Dale Pond and John Worrell Keely...

Cause of Rotation

An artistic exploration in SVP and late 18th century etheric sciences. Inspired by Dale Pond and John Worrell Keely. Dedicated to the restoration of good classic works by many. Light, Lens, Paper, Pencil and Compass.

Laws of Matter and Force

by John Worrell Keely

Quoted from Dashed Against the Rock- Colville

Matter is capable of infinite subdivision.

In the aggregation of matter, force or energy is stored up or conserved.

In the dissociation of matter, force is liberated.

All matter is in a state of perpetual activity, whether the substance under consideration be inanimate or animated, visible or invisible.

There is no dividing of matter and force into two distinct terms, as they both are ONE.FORCE is liberated matter. Matter is force in bondage.

All motion is synchronous; no sound or movement can be made but all that moves or sounds does so in harmony with something.

All structures, whether crystalline or homogeneous, have for their unit structures minute bodies called molecules. It is the motion of these molecules with which we have particularly to deal; as in experimental research and demonstration, when we produce an action upon one Molecule we do so upon all the molecules constituting the mass operated upon.

These molecules have an envelope, rotating with inconceivable rapidity, formed of a high tenuous ether, whose place in the order of subdivision ranks third, the three divisions being, - first, molecular; second, atomic; third, atomolic. (For convenience' sake we will use the term atomolic in place of etheric in our subsequent definitions.)

This atomolic substance has a density approximately 986,000 times that of steel, enabling it to permeate steel as light penetrates glass; this rotating envelope of atomolic substance is in a liquid condition. There are four conditions of matter; viz. solid, liquid,gaseous, and ultra-gaseous. These conditions result from greater or lesser range of oscillation of the composing units individually: this is equally true, whether the units are molecules, atoms, atomoles, planets, or suns. But one LAW governs all matter.

This molecular envelope, rotating with such great velocity, holds in its embrace the next subdivision of matter, the atomic. There cannot ever be more or less than three atoms in any Molecule.
These are placed so as to form a triangle in the interior; they rest in a condition of substance, or matter, we will term inter-molecular. In this inter-molecular substance we find an enormous energy or force in bondage, held thus by the rotating envelope enclosing it.Were we to rotate a spun brass shell, say nine inches in diameter, at a very much less rate of speed than that at which the molecular envelope rotates, say nine hundred revolutions per second, - its equator would first bulge out, then form into an oval disc. A solid block of wood subject to such revolution would swiftly fly to pieces. The rotating envelope of aMolecule,unlike these, the greater its velocity of rotation, the greater is its compression toward the centre (syntropy) of the molecule. The rotation of this envelope is of such a nature as to produce an internal pressure upon every portion from every point of the Molecule as a sphere. Were we to consider a rotating envelope as ordinarily understood, it would be one in which the envelope rotated around an equator having poles of no rotation; i. e. the poles would not possess the compressing force of the equator: the result would therefore be a compressed equator, and the intermolecular substance would pass out without resistance at the poles.

If it be possible let us conceive an envelope with an equator, but destitute of poles,a number of these rotating over the sphere, this atomolic envelope possessing an almost infinite attractive force toward the centre of theMolecule, pressing in the inter-molecular substance, where it is held until this revolving envelope becomes negatized by a certain order of vibration, when the enclosed matter rushes out to its natural condition of concordant tenuity, as in the case of gunpowder, dynamite, and nitro-glycerine. This force, we must see,has been held in the embrace of the rotating envelopes of the unit-structures, or where does it come from? This force at the time of an explosion was liberated by shock or fire, both being orders of imparted motion or vibration. How much greater the result would be were we to associate a scientific instrument now completed, and shortly to be given to the world,   an agent as nitro-glycerine; one pound of nitro-glycerine would have its destructive force augmented beyond all possible control. These instruments are carefully concealed by wise masters from all persons save the few who are already prepared to study their potency with the exclusive end in view of aiding the real scientific progress of humanity; and, furthermore,   be truly stated that a ferocious sensualist, however powerful his intellect, would be utterly unable to either comprehend or operate one of these marvelous constructions.

Next in order of consideration is the second subdivision of matter - the atomic. The atom has the same rotating envelope as theMolecule, governed by the same laws of rotation and compression. The rotating envelope holds in its embrace the interatomic substance and three atomoles resting in it, the atomoles within the atom being constructed after the same pattern as the atom and theMolecule, obedient to the same laws; the atomic being simply the third subdivision of matter. The threefold order is absolutely universal.

The atomolic substance is what is termed the ether which fills all space and is the transmitting medium for all celestial and terrestrial forces. This is the liquid ether of occult science.

The atomoles are made up of atomolini (singular atomolinus ); the subdivision of  matter from this point is beyond man's power, as at this point it escapes all control of apparatus, passing through glass and hardened steel as a luminous flame without heat, which is hardly seen before it vanishes, - a perpetual flame coldly luminous.

This again, from previous analysis, is made up according to the triple order, and may again be subject to subdivision, even to infinity.

John Ernst Worrell Keely's Forty Laws of Sympathetic Vibratory Physics
The following forty laws governing natural harmony, sound and vibration are explored by Dale Pond in detail in his book: Universal Laws Never Before Revealed: Keelys Secrets. Some of these laws are again explored in Its a Musical Universe!

(1) Law of Matter and Force
"Coextensive and coeternal with space and duration, there exists an infinite and unchangeable quantity of atomoles, the base of all matter; these are in a state of constant vibratory motion, infinite in extent, unchangeable in quantity, the initial of all forms of energy."

(2) Law of Corporeal Vibrations
"All coherent aggregates when isolated from like bodies, or when immersed or confined in media composed of matter in a different state, vibrate at a given ascertainable pitch."

(3) Law of Corporeal Oscillations
"All coherent aggregates not isolated from like bodies, oscillate at a period-frequency varying with the tensions that augment and diminish the state of equilibrium."

(4) Law of Harmonic Vibrations
"All coherent aggregates are perpetually vibrating at a period-frequency corresponding to some harmonic ratio of the fundamental pitch of the vibrating body; this pitch is a multiple of the pitch of the atomole."

(5) Law of Transmissive Vibraic Energy
"All oscillating and vibrating coherent aggregates create, in the media in which they are immersed, outwardly propagated concentric waves of alternate condensation and rarefaction, having a period-frequency identical with the pitch of the aggregate.

Scholium: All forms of transmissive energy can be focussed, reflected, refracted, diffracted, transformed, and diminished in intensity inversely as the square of the distance from the originating source."

Universal Laws

(6) Law of Sympathetic Oscillation
"Coherent aggregates immersed in a medium pulsating at their natural pitch simultaneously oscillate with the same frequency, whether the pitch of the medium be a unison, or any harmonic of the fundamental pitch of the creative aggregate."

(7) Law of Attraction
"Juxtaposed coherent aggregates vibrating in unison, or harmonic ration, are mutually attracted."

(8) Law of Repulsion
"Juxtaposed coherent aggregates vibrating in discord are mutually repelled."

(9) Law of Cycles
"Coherent aggregates harmonically united constitute centers of vibration bearing relation to the fundamental pitch not multiples of the harmonic pitch, and the production of secondary unions between themselves generate pitches that are discords, either in their unisons, or overtones with the original pitch; from harmony is generated discord, the inevitable cause of perpetual transformation."

(10) Law of Harmonic Pitch
"Any aggregate in a state of vibration develops in addition to its fundamental pitch a series of vibration in symmetrical sub-multiple portions of itself, bearing ratios of one, two, three, or more times its fundamental pitch."

(11) Law of Force
"Energy manifests itself in three forms: Creative, the vibrating aggregate; Transmissive, being the propagation of isochronous waves through the media in which it is immersed; Attractive, being its action upon other aggregates capable of vibrating in unisons or harmony."

(12) Law of Oscillating Atomic Substances
"Coherent atomic substances are capable of oscillating at a pitch varying directly as the density, and inversely as the linear dimensions from one period of frequency per unit of time to the 21st octave above, producing the creative force of Sonity, whose transmissive force (Sound) is propagated through the media of solids, liquids, and gases, and whose static effect (Sonism) produces attractions and repulsions between sympathetically vibrating bodies according to the Law of Harmonic Attraction and Repulsion."

(13) Law of Sono-thermity
"Internal vibrations of atomic substances and atomic molecules are capable of vibrating at a period-frequency directly as their density, inversely as their linear dimensions, directly as the coefficient of their tension from the 21st to the 42nd octaves, producing the creative force (Sono-thermity), whose transmissive force (Sono-therm) is propagated in solid, liquid, gaseous, and ultra-gaseous media, statically producing adhesions and molecular unions, or disintegration, according to the Law of Harmonic Attraction and Repulsion."

(14) Law of Oscillating Atoms
"All atoms when in a state of tension are capable of oscillating at a pitch inversely as the cube of their atomic weights, and directly as their tension from 42 to 63 octaves per second, producing the creative force (Thermism), whose transmissive force (Rad-energy) propagated in solid, liquid, and gaseous ether, produces the static effects (Cohesion and Chemism) on other atoms of association, or dissociation, according to the Law of Harmonic Attraction and Repulsion.

Scholium: Dark radiant heat begins at absolute zero temperature, and extends through light, chemical rays, actinic rays, and infra-violet rays, up to the dissociation of all molecules to the 63rd octave."

(15) Law of Vibrating Atomolic Substances
"Atoms are capable of vibrating within themselves at a pitch inversely as the Dyne (the local coefficient of Gravity), and as the atomic volume, directly as the atomic weight, producing the creative force (Electricity), whose transmissive force is propagated through atomolic solids, liquids, and gases, producing induction and the static effect of magnetism upon other atoms of attraction or repulsion, according to the Law of Harmonic Attraction and Repulsion.

Scholium: The phenomenon of Dynamic Electricity through a metallic conductor and of induction are identical. In a metallic conductor, the transmission is from atom to atom, through homologous interstices, filled with ether, presenting small areas in close proximity. In crystalline structures, heat, which expands the atoms, by twisting them produces striae, increases the resistance, etc. Between parallel wires and through air the induction takes place from large areas through a rarefied medium composed of a mixture of substances, whose atoms are separated by waves of repulsion of various pitches, discordant to electric vibrations; the said atoms sympathetically absorb the vibrations and dissipate from themselves, as centers, concentric waves of electric energy which produces heat and gravism."

(16) Law of Oscillating Atomoles
"Atomoles oscillating at a uniform pitch (determined by their uniform size and weight) produce the creative force Atomolity, whose transmissive form, Gravism, is propagated through more rarefied media, producing the static effect upon all other atomoles, denominated Gravity."

(17) Law of Transformation of Forces
"All forces are different forms of Universal Energy unlike in their period- frequency, merging into each other by imperceptible increments; each form representing the compass of 21 octaves. Each form or pitch may be transformed into an equivalent quantity of another pitch above or below it in the scale of 105 octaves. The transformation can occur only through its static effect, developing vibrations of harmonic pitches above or below their fundamental vibration, or developing with juxtaposed aggregates, resultant and difference, or third order, as the case may be.

Scholium: A table of the intervals and harmonics of the normal harmonic scale will indicate the ratios in which the transformation of forces will occur."

(18) Law of Atomic Pitch
"Atoms have each a different and definite pitch, at which they naturally vibrate.

Scholium: Atomic pitch is determined directly from its simple spectrum.

Scholium: Atomic pitch is determined by computations from its associate spectrum with all other atoms, as in known spectra.

Scholium: Atomic pitches are more important working data than atomic weights; tables of atomic pitches must be precise."

(19) Law of Variation of Atomic Pitch by Rad-energy
"The higher harmonics and overtones of projected rad-energy are of a pitch sufficiently high to cause the atom to expand; by causing the atomoles to vibrate systematically the same influence will cause the atom to contract, and thus by changing the volume, atomic pitch is varied."

(20) Law of Variation of Atomic Pitch by Electricity and Magnetism
"Electricity and Magnetism produce internal vibrations in the atom, which are followed by proportional changes in volume and, therefore, pitch."

(21) Law of Variation of Atomic Pitch by Temperature
"Atoms in chemical combination oscillate with increasing amplitude directly as the temperature, and simultaneously absorb overtones of higher harmonics, producing expansion of volume and diminution of pitch.

Rule: The gradual approach of the temperature of harmonic combination can be observed by mutually comparing superimposed spectra; chemical combination commences when the fundamental lines of each spectrum bear harmonic ratios by linear measurement."

(22) Law of Pitch of Atomic Oscillation
"Atoms not isolated and in a state of tension between forces that oppose and increase the equilibrium oscillate bodily at a pitch that is a resultant of the atomic weight, atomic volume, and tension."

(23) Law of Variation of Pitch of Atomic Oscillation by Pressure
"The frequency of atomic oscillation increases and diminishes inversely as the square of the pressure."

(24) Law of Variation of Atomic Oscillation by Temperature
"The force of cohesion diminishes inversely as the square of the distance the atoms are apart, and the force of the chemical affinity diminishes in the same ratio. Heat increases the amplitude of the oscillations in a direct ratio to the temperature of the natural scale.

Scholium: New thermometers and accurate thermometric tables, on the natural base, wherein doubling the temperature doubles the pitch of the transmissive energy, are required. Such a table of temperature will bear natural relations to atomic weights, pitches, specific heats, chemical affinities, fusions, solubilities, etc., and will disclose new laws. One table for each must be constructed."

(25) Law of Variation of Atomic Oscillation by Electricity
"The electric current destroys cohesion and chemical tension directly as square of current in amperes, inversely as the resistance in ohms, inversely as the chemical equivalent, and conversely as the coefficient of the difference between the freezing and volatilizing temperature of mass acted upon."

(26) Law of Variation of Atomic Oscillation by Sono-thermism
"Diminishes the tensions directly as the quantity of heat developed, and in antithetical proportion to the harmonics absolved."

(27) Law of Chemical Affinity
"Atoms whose atomic pitches are in either unison, harmonic or concordant ratios, unite to form molecules.

Corollary: When two atoms are indifferent, they may be made to unite by varying the pitch of either, or both.

Scholium: This necessitates the construction of tables, representing variation of atomic pitches by temperature, pressure, etc.

Scholium: Tables of all harmonics and concords, and harmonics founded upon a normal harmonic scale, are equally essential.

Scholium: Optical instruments may be made to measure pitches of energy."

(28) Law of Chemical Dissociation
"If the pitch of either atom, in a molecule, be raised or lowered; or, if they both be unequally raised or lowered in pitch until the mutual ratio be that of a discord; or, if the oscillation amplitude be augmented by heat until the atoms are with the concentric waves of attraction, - the atoms will separate."

(29) Law of Chemical Transposition
"New molecules must be harmonics of the fundamental pitch."

(30) Law of Chemical Substitution
"(too complex for brief statement)"

(31) Law of Catalysis
"The presence of harmonics and discords."

(32) Law of Molecular Synthesis and Combination (Organic)
"The molecular pitch must be a derived harmony of the radicals.

Scholium: Reconstruction of electric units to represent pitches and amplitudes."

(33) Law of Chemical Morphology
"The angle of crystallization is determined by the relation between the molecular pitch of the crystallizing substance to the variation- density of the liquid depositing it."

(34) Law of Atomic Dissociation
"Overtones of high rad-energy pitches produce separation of the atomoles and recombinations among the atomolic molecules of the atoms."

(35) Law of Atomolic Synthesis of Chemical Elements
"Harmonic pitches of atomolity produce association of etheric-atomolic particles to form atoms; the kind of atom is determinable by the pitches employed."

(36) Law of Heat
"Atoms under the tension of chemical combination oscillate with an amplitude directly as the temperature, inversely as the pressure, and as the square of the specific heat. Diminishing the pitch of oscillation inversely as the square of the distance of the atoms apart, and simultaneously increasing the vibrating pitch of the atom by absorption of overtones and higher harmonics."

(37) Law of Electro-Chemical Equivalents
"An atom vibrates sympathetically under the influence of electric energy, such undertones of which are absorbed as are a harmonic or harmony of the electric pitch; the amount of energy absorbed being directly as the arithmetical ratio of the undertone of the fundamental electric pitch.

Scholium: A table of electro-chemical equivalents on the normal basis will indicate the electrical conditions and amount of chemical change."

(38) Law of Cohesion
"The cohesion between atoms diminishes directly as the square root of the pressure and temperature, and as the square of electric intensity."

(39) Law of Refractive Indices
"A table of the refractive indices of substances indicates their molecular pitch; and in connection with crystalline form the phase of molecular oscillation."

(40) Law of Electric Conductivity
"Electric energy is transmitted through homogeneous bodies with a completeness in direct proportion as the atoms are more or less perfect harmonics of the electric pitch, but not at all through substances whose atoms are discordant to the electric pitch; also through molecular substances, when their resultant notes are harmonics of the electric pitch, - the transmissions being inversely as the temperature, directly as the density diminished in proportion to the amount of crystallization, and inversely as the cube of the dyne, also directly as the reciprocal of the local magnetic intensity."

Snell Manuscript (Keely's Secrets) by Gregg Martin

Keely's Laws of Being

Dale Pond

The Keely Motor - Photographs by T B Kinraide

Click to enlarge :

Universal Laws Never Before Revealed

by Dale Pond

Compound Disintegrator


Click to enlarge:

Click to enlarge :

Keely Technology Devices Pictures





Donald E. Simanek

John Worrell Keely (1837-1898) of Philadelphia was a carpenter and mechanic who announced in 1872 that he had discovered a new principle for power production. The vibrations of a simple tuning fork had given him the idea, and the means to tap etheric energy.

Keely persuaded a dozen engineers and capitalists to invest in the idea, forming the Keely Motor Company in New York in 1872. Soon he had capital of one million dollars, primarily from wealthy New York and Philadelphia businessmen. He used the money to buy materials necessary for building a motor based on his theories.
Keely Motor Company Board of Directors

Soon he had constructed an etheric generator, which he demonstrated to amazed audiences in 1874 in Philadelphia. Keely blew into a nozzle for half a minute, then poured five gallons of tap water into the same nozzle. After some fine adjustments the pressure gage indicated pressures of 10,000 pounds per square inch. This, said Keely, was evidence that the water had been disintegrated and a mysterious vapor had been liberated in the generator, capable of powering machinery.

One spectator at a Keely demonstration described the power of the machine. "Great ropes were torn apart, iron bars broken in two or twisted out of shape, bullets discharged through twelve inch planks, by a force which could not be determined."

Keely predicted his discovery would make other forms of power obsolete. A quart of water would be enough to send a train from Philadelphia to San Francisco and back. A gallon would propel a steamship from N. Y. to Liverpool and back. "A bucket of water has enough of this vapor to produce a power sufficient to move the world out of its course."

Keely lived comfortably, as befitted the president of a company, but not extravagently. To his credit, he plowed most of the invested money into research equipment and tools. He did most of the experimentation himself, designing and constructing his own apparatus. He was not willing to entrust his secret to those who could not or would not understand—especially physicists and engineers. Skeptics noted that the equipment could never be made to work as it was supposed to unless Keely was present.

The work went slowly. To keep up the spirits of stockholders Keely staged occasional public demonstrations. These were masterpieces of showmanship. He demonstrated a marvelous machine, a "vibratory engine" or "hydro-pneumatic pulsating vacuo-engine." It was a work of the machinist's art, made of gleaming brass and copper. The engine was attached to another machine called a "liberator," a complicated array of brass wires, tubes and tuning forks.

Keely explained that he was tapping a "latent force" of nature—the vibratory energy of the ether. [We can blame that idea on the physicists.] Keely often used a harmonica, violin, flute, zither or pitch pipe to activate his machines. Some said that it was worth the price of being duped to hear the eloquent language Keely used wo explain his theory. [Keely was said to have considerable musical knowledge and talent.] Skeptics suggested that these musical tones were a signal to a hidden confederate to activate the secret trickery and mechanisms that made the miracles happen.

A central idea of Keely's theory of nature was the notion that musical tones could resonate with atoms, or with the ether itself. He even drew this musical chart to help people understand the finer points of this theory. [There are those today who use this as evidence that Keely was far ahead of his time, anticipating the theory of quantum mechanics.]

Biographers have described Keely as a "mechanical experimenter", "inventor and imposter", "professor of perfidy", "swindler", and "scandalous scamp". Keely's lack of formal scientific education didn't bother his supporters, and didn't deter Keely himself from grandly proclaiming his theories as "scientific".

Keely expounded his ideas using an elaborate theory of the "etheric force", spiced with eloquently profound terms such as: "sympathetic equilibrium, quadrupole negative harmonics, etheric disintegration". His backers were duly impressed. He looked with condescending pity on those who appeared not to understand.

Some disillusioned stockholders withdrew their support as Keely's experiments suffered repeated delays. Keely declared he'd already proven his theory could be implemented for useful purposes, and he made vast claims for the economic benefits of etheric energy over coal and other energy sources. But he resisted investor's demands that he produce some marketable product. Stockholders were not happy with Keely's insistence that more experimentation was needed to "perfect" the machines. Fortunately, when nearing bankruptcy, Keely acquired a wealthy backer, Mrs. Clara S. J. Bloomfield-Moore, the widow of a Philadelphia paper manufacturer.

She advanced him over $100,000 for expenses and promised him a salary of $2,500 per month. She became active in promoting Keely in journals and books and in seeking scientists who might validate his claims. She suggested that Keely share his secret with Edison or Tesla to hasten its development, but he refused. He did agree that scientists at least be allowed to observe the demonstrations.

E. Alexander Scott, an electrical engineer, witnessed such a demonstration. When Keely showed him the etheric power causing a weight to rise and fall in a closed flask of water, Scott was unimpressed. Keely used the sound from a zither to activate the globe liberator which then supposedly transmitted the etheric force through a wire to the water container. Scott suspected the weight was really hollow, so that the slightest change of water pressure could cause it to rise or fall, just as a Cartesian diver. The wire, he guessed, was a hollow tube transmitting air pressure to the water chamber. To counter this suggestion, Keely cut a ways into the wire with a file to prove it solid. But Moore surreptitiously picked up a scrap piece of similar wire in the workshop and later found that it did have a very fine, hollow center.

Other demonstrations showed the etheric force to be great enough to lift large weights :

It could also fire Keely's "vaporic gun", demonstrated at Sandy Hook, Long Island :

The secrets of Keely's laboratory, published in The New York Journal.

The Scientific American magazine followed Keely's career with some amazement and amusement. They were not impressed, reporting that all the demonstrations they had witnessed could easily have been produced with hidden sources of compressed air.

Keely continued this research for fourteen years, occasionally staging demonstrations to placate impatient stockholders. Mrs. Moore was concerned by Alexander Scott's negative report, and by dismissive and unkind articles in newspapers and magazines. So she sought a second opinion from physicist Prof. W. Lascelles-Scott, from England. He spent a month in Philadelphia carrying out his investigation, finally reporting to the Franklin Institute that "Keely has demonstrated to me, in a way which is absolutely unquestionable, the existence of a force hitherto unknown."

Since physicist Lascelles-Scott and engineer Alexander Scott obviously disagreed, they were brought together to witness more Keely demonstrations. Mrs. Moore suggested that the definitive test would be to cut that wire that Scott alleged was really an air line. This time Keely flatly refused to comply. Lascelles-Scott retreated to England, and Mrs. Moore, her faith shaken, reduced Keely's salary to $250 per month.

Three ton sphere found in basement of Keely's laboratory building.

After Keely died on Nov. 18, 1898, suspicious skeptics and newspaper reporters did a careful examination of his laboratory. Some of Keely's machinery had already been removed by "believers" who hoped they could make it work. A Boston electrician, T. Burton Kinraide, removed the engine to his home at Jamaica Plains. Some of the apparatus ended up in England. No one could make it function as it had in Keely's laboratory. The secret was not in the machines; the secret was in the laboratory building itself. Engineer Alexander Scott and Mrs. Moore's son, Clarence, examined the building, accompanied by press and photographers. False ceilings and floors were ripped up to reveal hidden mechanical belts and linkages to a silent water motor in the basement (two floors below the laboratory). A system of pneumatic switches under the floor boards could be used to turn machinery on and off. A three-ton sphere was found in the basement, thought to be a reservoir for compressed air, but which could have been a discarded piece of one of Keely's many abandoned projects. The walls, ceilings and even apparently solid beams were found to have hidden pipework. The evidence of fraud on a grand scale was obvious and difficult to dismiss.

What's really remarkable is that Mrs. Moore had persuaded a number of apparently respectable scientists to observe Keely's demonstrations, and some of them affirmed that they were impressed, and even convinced that Keely had made revolutionary scientific discoveries. Why were some so easily duped by Keely's obvious (though very elaborate) deceptions, which were correctly guessed by more perceptive and skeptical observers? Of course, it must be stated that Keely never allowed anyone to examine his machines, independently test them, or even look inside of them. Even today, scam artists promoting energy machines can find at least a few degree-holding engineers or physicists willing to declare publicly that they found no fraud or deception in the machines and who are convinced that new scientific principles are at work. So much for "expert witnesses".

 Keely had kept his company going for 26 years without ever putting a product on the market, paying a dividend or revealing his secrets. That's his one undisputed accomplishment. He never divulged his secrets with anyone, so far as we know. One close friend reported that he had once asked Keely "John, what do you want for an epitaph?" His answer: "Keely, the greatest humbug of the nineteenth century."

The term "humbug" is associated with the American showman Phineas Taylor Barnum (1810-91), who wrote a book "Humbugs of the World" and was renowned for hoodwinking the public with fake and hyped "wonders". Barnum and Keely never met, but they might have been kindred spirits.

Keely's theories have been cavalierly updated by such folks to harmonize with their new-age philosophy, and with their shaky understanding of popularized science. They have translated "ether" to "zero point energy" or "free energy" that they claim fills all of space and may be tapped by anyone clever enough to rediscover Keely's secrets.

Some years ago I had the opportunity to see and examine a model of Keely's hydro-vacuo engine, part of the collection of the Franklin Institute in Philadelphia. At that time it was on loan to a private individual (in exchange for a generous gift to the museum). Unfortunately backgrounds at this person's home weren't ideal for photography, and this photo was the best I obtained (though the original photo was in 3d.)

Though the press classed Keely's claims with "perpetual motion", Keely himself never claimed that any of his inventions violated physical laws. He very cleverly couched his claims to be consonant with speculative science of his day. He exercised eloquent embellishment of these ideas, and coined marvelous scientific-sounding words, but without ever carefully defining them. He was so good at this that his followers today can point to obscure things Keely said and ingeniously interpret them as anticipating modern atomic theory.

Present-day "seekers" likewise avoid the term "perpetual motion". To account for the energy they hope to produce, they invent mysterious forms of energy "all around us" that have never been discovered, have no effect on most matter, and have no solid foundation in well-established and well-tested science.

They hold "science as we know it" in contempt, and see today's science as a straitjacket restraining those who seek to discover "new scientific principles." These folks devote far more effort to rationalizing their methods, justifying their unproven claims, and inventing new paradigms than they spend producing testable results.

It is not pathological to admit that science is never complete, and that new discoveries will be made and will at least modify some of our present understanding. However, it is just a bit perverse to justify one's scientific thinking by basing it on the vague and incomprehensible invented pseudoscientific theories and experimental deceptions of a 19th century charlatan such as Keely. Keely may have been a clever con artist, or he may have been a diligent but misguided seeker of scientific truth who only fabricated deceptions to gain support. He may have been both. Whatever may be the case, I confidently predict that if new sources of energy are ever discovered, they will have not the slightest connection with anything Keely ever did or imagined. Present-day followers and admirers of Keely are wasting their time, and will simply get nowhere as they try to implement his ideas to produce an energy generator.

Keely Motor Company Stock Certificate

Beautifully engraved certificate #2448 from the Keely Motor Company issued in 1880. This historic document was printed by the National Banknote Company and has an ornate border around it with a vignette a woman next to the steam motor and a vignette of John Ernst Worrell Keely. This item has the hand signatures of the Company’s President ( John W. Keely ) and Secretary ( Charles Schullermann ) and is over 132 years old.

Hydro Pneumatic Pulsating Vacuo Engine

Specification describing a new and useful Hydro Vacuo Engine, invented by John W. Keely of the City and County of Philadelphia and state of Pennsylvania.

The end and design of the invention is an engine wherein the actuating power is produced by a vacuum in connection with water pressure.

Figure 1: is a side elevation.

Figure 2: is an end elevation.

Figure 3: is a plan view.

Figure 4: is a sectional side elevation.

Figure 5: is a section through the dotted line 1-1. fig. 4.

Figure 6: is a section through the dotted line 2-2, fig. 4.

Figure 7: is a section through the dotted line 3-3, fig. 4.

Figure 8: is a section of the valve chest.

Figure 9: is the valve or plug.

A. Figures 1, 2, 3, 4, is the bed of the engine B. figures 1, 4, is a cylindrical semi-globular vessel which is bolted to it and near its end. C is a vacuum chamber [?] chamber B. it communicates with it by means of a circle of openings, a, arranged in its base.

Within the chamber B and of very near by the same conformation as the chamber D. its waist or cylindrical part, E, fits snugly and tightly the waist or cylindrical part of the vessel B. there is a space b. between the semi-globular parts of the two vessels.

F is an inverted conical pulsating chamber placed centrally in the vacuum chamber C. its bottom opens into the vessel D. its top is closed by a pulsating diaphragm G. the stem H of which passes through a guide or box C. of the air chamber, I, which is formed from the vacuum chamber C. by the said pulsating diaphragm.

J is a water and air vessel which is suspended in an opening in the bed A of the engine, it is divided into two parts by the pulsating diaphragm K the upper part G is for water, and the lower part, d, for air, a pipe I communicates with the chamber F.

M is the valve chest and N, the cylinder of the engine, on the chamber J the valve O is of the three way plug order and is operated by means of gear wheel and toothed sector e-f figure 1. which are actuated by the eccentric rod and eccentric P, G.

R. is a crank shaft which turns in suitable bearings in the housings R. it connects with the piston and piston rod g. by means of the connecting rod h and the cross head i sliding on the guide rods j. on the inner end of the shaft R. is the eccentric Q. which actuates the gear and sector e-f. by means of the ball and socket eccentric rod P.
SS are shafts which are parallel and turn coincidentally and at the same speed with the shaft R. by means of the spur and pinion gearing T', T', T2, T3 they turn in bearings of the housings R2, R3 the former carries the ball or fly wheel v while the latter has the crank wheel V on its other end.

W is a balance or compensating lever which turns on the fulcrum K. depending from the bed plate A of the engine, the ball and socket rod W1 connects one end of it to the crank wheel v while W3 connects its other end to the lever W2 which turns on a fulcrum b of the air chamber I.

To start the engine reference being had to figures 1, 4, the piston g. being on its up stroke, the cock m. of the supply pipe X is opened and sufficient water is admitted to fill the waist B of the vessel D the pipe X1 and the chamber J. above the pulsating diaphragm K. to the dotted line 4-4. the air displaced by the water is forced into the pulsating cone F and compressed in the upper part of the chamber J above the said line 4-4. an air pump is now applied to the nozzle Y of the vacuum chamber C. and the air exhausted therefrom, the chamber C. communicating with the semi-globular part of the vessel B through the circle of openings, a, in its base, and with the horizontal pipe X2 which leads from the valve chest M to the vessel B, the air is exhausted from all at the same time.

If the inlet cock, M. of the supply pipe X be opened to its extent and a full water pressure be admitted to the waist E of the vessel D it will rise in the semi-globular part of the same and also run through the pipe X1 into the upper part of the chamber J until the compression of the air in the conical pulsating chamber F and in the part, d, of the chamber J equals the pressure of the water, the cock m. of the pipe T being open to permit a free circulation of air between the chambers, the pulsating diaphragms G and K. will be extended, the stem H partaking of the outwardly motion of its diaphragm will be raised vertically and thereby lift the lever W3 it will be readily seen that there is an uninterrupted water or other fluid flow between the vessel D and the upper part of the chamber J. and an uninterrupted air flow between the lower part of the same and the conical pulsating chamber F which opens into the upper part of the said vessel D.

A weight sufficient for obtaining the requisite pressure being hung so the lever W3 its force on the stem H causes the pulsating diaphragm G to compress the air in both chambers F, J. downwardly upon the water of the vessel D. and upwardly by the diaphragm K. against the water on the pat[?] c1 of the chamber J.

The descending vibration of the lever W3 through its end or connecting rod W2 depressed the end, O, of the compensating lever W. and of consequence raises its opposite end p, the connecting rod W1 of that end turns the crank wheel V. since the shafts SSR turn coincidently and at the same speed through the medium of the spur gear and pinion T3, T2, T, T. the eccentric Q. and rod P working the spur gear and sector e-f. slowly turn the plug valve O. until its port q and the valve chest port v leading from the chamber J form a continuous port to the cylinder N.

The water in the pipe X1 in the vessel D and in the upper part of the chamber J and also the compressed air above the line 4-4 acting under the influence of the compressed air in the conical chamber F and in the lower part of the chamber J. rushes through the port, v, and pressing against the under side of the piston g, causes it to ascend; when it arrives at the end of its stroke, the eccentric Q and the rod P. together with the gear and sector e-f will have turned the plug valve V, so as to shut off all communications of this cylinder N with chamber J. and opened its port into the pipe X2 through the port X?.

The vessel B, the chamber C and the pipe X2 from one continuous vacuum, the instant the ports between the cylinder N and the pipe X2 are opened, the air and water contained in the cylinder is sucked into the vacuum, the pressure of the atmosphere acting on the piston through the openings, S, in the cylinder head makes the return or down stroke, the back pressure of the air and water being renewed by the vacuum.

The set of the crank wheel v should be such that as the piston ascends the end p of the compensating lever W should descend and the end, o ascends, whereby the lever W is raised gradually and the pulsating diaphragm G is permitted to expand or left unloaded by the expansion of the air in the chambers F, J and the pressure of the water flowing through the supply pipe X.

A few revolutions of the engine will effectually exhaust all the air from the upper part of the chamber J, the valve and valve chest ports, and from the cylinder beneath the piston.

To draw off the water as exhausted from the cylinder after performing its work as a mechanical agent, an exhaust pipe X3 taps the semi-globular part of the vessel B near its top as shown at figures 1, 2, 3, 4, 7, its other end dips into water to prevent the entrance of air, it is freed of its air at the same time with the vacuum chamber C. and the vessel B.

The pipe X3 prevents the water from raising in the chamber or vessel C higher than the bottom of the vacuum chamber C. it should maintain the same level in the vessel D. if it should rise into the pulsating chamber E. as shown at figure 4. it would reduce the volume of air and thereby materially interfere with the capacity of the engine.

When it is desired to stop the engine an air cock L on the swell or enlargement of the pipe X2 is opened which admits air to the chamber C. and destroys its vacuum.

I claim as my invention:

First: The cylindrical semi-globular chamber B. in combination with the vacuum chamber C. and the pipes X2, X3 for the purpose shown and described.

Second: The cylindrical semi-globular chamber or vessel D in combination with the conical chamber E. the pulsating diaphragm G. the stem H the lever W3, and the supply pipe X for the purposes shown and described.

Third: The cylindrical semi-globular vessel D in combination with the pulsating chamber E the pipe X1 the pulsating chamber J. and the pipe I. for the purpose shown and described.

Fourth: The chamber J. in combination with the pulsating diaphragm K. for the purpose shown and described.

Fifth: The pulsating chamber J. in combination with the valve chest M. and the cylinder N for the purpose shown and described.
Sixth: The valve chest M. in combination with the pipe X2, the vessel B. and the vacuum chamber C. for the purpose shown and described.

Seventh: The valve chest M. in combination with the valve plug O. the spur gear, e. the sector f. eccentric rod P. the eccentric G. for the purpose shown and described.

Eight: The shaft R. in combination with the eccentric Q. the eccentric rod P. the toothed sector f. the spur gear e. and the valve O. for the purpose shown and described.

Ninth: The horizontal shafts R. SS. the spur gear and pinions, T, T, T2, T3 and the balance or ball wheel U for the purpose shown and described.

Tenth: The crank wheel V in combination with the rod W1 the compensating lever W2 for the purpose shown and described.

Eleventh: The air cock Z in combination with the pipe X2 for the purpose shown and described.

In testimony whereof I hereonto sign my name in presence of two subscribing witnesses.

John W. Keely

John W. Keely, the above name petitioner being duly sworn deposes and says that he verily believes himself to be the original and first inventor of the new and useful Hydro Vacuo Engine described and claimed in the foregoing specification that he does not know and does not believe that the same was ever before known or used, and that he is a citizen of the United States.

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