Was a Murphy Mover used to build pyramids?

A fellow by the name of James Murphy says his invention might have been used by the Egyptians to build the pyramids. It appears to be some kind of swing. But either Murphy or the author of the article doesn't understand physics.
200701231005 James Murphy said his Apex Delivery and Lifting System - or Murphy Mover - is more than just an explanation. It's a nearly energy free way of lifting and moving large objects.

It doesn't take much power and doesn't need any major outside energy - just gravity.

There's no getting around the laws of physics. To move a load on a swing, you have to apply force to it. Here's an excellent pendulum simulation you can play around with. Link

Reader comment:

Joscha says:

This idea might have something going for it: The major problem of the Egyptians should not have been the energy necessary to accelate the blocks, but the friction between the rocks and the ground - they did not use iron tracks and wheels, after all.

Murphy's idea may indeed present a solution to that problem. I guess he proposes to construct a swing on four legs. The front pair of legs allows for some movement with respect to the hind legs. Now, if you set the block into a swinging motion, the center of gravity will alternate between front and hind legs. So, whenever the weight is centered on the front legs, the hind legs come off the ground and can be pushed forward with little effort. When the block rocks back again, the front legs come off the ground and can be pulled forward as well. Thus, the whole contraption "ratchets" forward, possibly even along an incline.

Murphy's contraption will not violate any law of physics. All energy necessary for lifting the block over the height of the incline and to overcome the friction inherent in the mechanism will have to be added by continously pushing the pendulum. (Your confusion might be related to the impression that Murphy claims that this thing would need no energy to lift things, while his claim is simply that you need considerably less energy for moving a suspended object than for sledding it over the ground.)

I can picture that a group of workers is busy with ropes attached to the suspended block, pulling at it in regular invervals to get it into a swinging motion, while another pulls ropes connected to the legs, ratcheting them forward.

That said, I do not think that Murphy's invention has a practical application in contemporary building: A crane is a better solution of overcoming the friction problem - simply by lifting the goods.


  1. As the inventor of this device I can tell you these details. It is powered by gravity. This was told to me by Dr. John Backs of Jet Prolultion Lab in Pasadena. Yes, the weight has to be pulled by ropes to start the weight moving enough to lift the *rear* legs of the ground. They then will move forward by themself. When the weight move to the rear the *front* legs come off the ground and must be moved forward the same amount as the rear legs were moved. Moving the legs forward, moves the apex forward which helps move the total weight forward again. thus completes the first complete cycle. Repeat as many times as necessary to move the stone from the quary, up the ramp, across to the final resting plase of that stone.

    I propose that Palm Trees could have been used in the construction. The were and are very plentiful along the Nile River. Hundereds of these *Murphy-Movers* could have been used all at the same time.

    Yes, cranes are easier for modern day use. Except, when cranes are not available, as in the disaster of the 2004 December Sunami in the Indian O. If people had known about the Murphy-Mover New Orleans could have been cleaned up 6 months after the floods receeded. How about China after it 7.9 quake in May 2008. People could use this device to help rebuild everything needed.

    Dr. Backs of JPL even agreed this could be used in outer-space where we are planning to build a settlement BECAUSE it only uses Gravity as its main source of power. Left dormant for hundreds of years and then used again with out worry of power.

    The uses for this Murphy-Mover are endless. So simple anyone can build and use it.

  2. looks like method used in traditional Japanese gardens to hump large feature stones around. I think they just used tripods though, the Murphy Mover looks more refined

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