Newman

Newman

Newman

directed by Jon Fox

starring Joseph Newman

Every few years a new perpetual motion machine appears, and it inevitably turns up a fraud or a delusion. Joseph Newman made one; he lived in the backwoods Mississippi and his claim to inventing fame was a patent for the plastic-coated barbell. His next product was a weird looking electrical machine that ran off batteries and supposedly produced more energy than it took in, and seeming competent engineers agreed. This documentary follows the story from his discovery by a local television station in New Orleans to the halls of Congress. Numerous engineers agreed his mechanism worked as claimed, although none offer any sort of evidence in this film. We see pictures of electrical test equipment, but no data, and if this contraption really puts out net energy gain, why do you need the batteries? This doc fails when it mentions and yet doesn’t pursue the wildest of his claims: The Second Law of Thermodynamics doesn’t apply here. Were that true, the Nobel committee would come knocking.

Newman needed investors to mass produce this machine and his investors wanted patent protection. The US Patent Office does not issue perpetual motion patents but Newman set off to challenge them. Their ex-director fails to make the Patent Office look very good; he seems to know nothing about what his examiners did or why. The Federal courts investigate then soundly rebuff Newman at every level. Obviously, this is a conspiracy by Big Energy, Big Patents, and Big Everything else. Eventually Newman becomes delusional, gets advice directly from God, then he disappears for a decade or so. We meet Newman as a tired and broken man, divorced and rooming with a friend. The latest version of the machine is locked up in a storage unit, and he drives away potential investors with wild abuse. They should thank him for that. As the film ends Newman screams obscenities at the camera and threatened to punch out the director. A sad story, indeed.

It’s also a rather stilted story; Director Fox emphasis the conspiracy theory but spends little time looking into how this machine might change the laws of physics. Even the engineers he interviews seem reluctant to broach that thorny subject. And while a patent is a nice thing to have, there are tons of successful inventions that the Patent Office never saw; trade secrets can be held forever. Newman is an electrifying figure and I’ll cut him the slack if self-delusional; but ultimately he was a fraud with a weak grasp of physics but a pugnacious knack for showmanship.

www.newmanmovie.com

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked with *

Cancel reply

Recently on Ink 19...

  • Violinist Gregory Harrington
    Violinist Gregory Harrington

    Renowned violinist Gregory Harrington unveils how he chose elegant covers on his new album Without You.

  • Sparks
    Sparks

    A Steady Drip, Drip, Drip (BMG). Review by Generoso Fierro.

  • Lucifer Star Machine
    Lucifer Star Machine

    Devil’s Breath (Sign Records). Review by Carl F. Gauze.

  • Let My Daughter Go
    Let My Daughter Go

    The latest from Creston Mapes, “Let My Daughter Go” delivers everything his dedicated disciples have come to expect – inspiring heroes and despicable villains, along with plenty of action and non-stop tension.

  • Iron City Houserockers
    Iron City Houserockers

    Have a Good Time, But Get Out Alive (Cleveland International). Review by Bob Pomeroy.

  • Carleen Williams
    Carleen Williams

    “Home Stretch”. Review by Stacey Zering.

  • Dennis and Lois
    Dennis and Lois

    Music superfans Lois and Dennis have been attending concerts and befriending musicians since the ’70s. The couple shares their obsessive music fandom with the rest of the world in this quirky, charming documentary.

  • COVID Diary #3
    COVID Diary #3

    Forced isolation, too much coffee and a stack of records result in a batch of attention deficit record reviews.

  • Beach Slang
    Beach Slang

    The Deadbeat Bang of Heartbreak City (Bridge Nine Records). Review by Carl F. Gauze.

  • Monks Road Social
    Monks Road Social

    Humanism (Monk’s Road Records). Review by Bob Pomeroy.

From the Archives