When Lionel Richie sang Dancing on the Ceiling back in 1985, he may have been imagining a future where battery-powered trousers allowed wearers to walk on walls.
A group of student from University of Leicester in the UK are also imagining that future. In the peer-reviewed student journal Physics Special Topics, a team of graduate students have shown that theoretically dancing on a ceiling is possible.
It would require boots with slightly raised rubber insulators on their soles. The raised area would create a cavity in which a suction-cup-like vacuum could be applied to get the book to stick firmly to the surface. According to their calculations, the reduction in air pressure needed to keep the boot secured is roughly the same amount created by an ordinary vacuum cleaner.
The energy to control the vacuum would come from battery-powered pants. Based on the amount of power currently available from batteries, the anti-gravity boots would only keep one on the ceiling for approximately 20 minutes. Not, as Richie would hope, all night long.
The student were actually inspired, not by Lionel Richie, but by the 1993 Wallace & Gromit claymation movie The Wrong Trousers, which features a pair of battery-powered pants that allows Gromit to walk up vertical walls while on Earth as well as in space. The University of Leicester team say their pants wouldn’t work in space, because of the lack of air pressure. But don’t be dismayed. You could use magnetic generators instead.