The late, great black white entertainer, Michael Jackson, who was, well weird, even by pop-star standards, was apparently not merely a great singer, dancer and nutter, but also an inventor.
Jackson is listed as one of the co-inventors of the technology used to apparently overcome gravity, used in “Smooth Criminal”, the seventh single from Michael Jackson‘s Bad album, United States Patent 5,255,452, granted in 1993 for a “method and means for creating anti-gravity illusion.” I don’t understand why he called his album bad. I think it was quite good actually.
That as may be, the only magician I know who uses the effect is my old friend, the French born clown who performs in Israel under the name Cris l’Artiste. I don’t recall any reference to the illusion in my fairly large library of magic literature, which includes most of the classic works on stage illusions. The IPKAT, one of my favorite IP blogs, claims that tap-dancing trumpeter Roy Castle performed the stunt on British television in the Sixties. That was before my time, however. But I remember the host of the long-running Record Breakers BBC television series fondly.
Surprisingly, the stunt is performed by the tin woodman in the classical MGM film, the Wizard of Oz! At the end of a tap-dance, the tin woodman, played by Jack Haley, sways around in anti-gravity circles with his feet flat on the ground. I assume the basic technique is the same as that created by Jackson, which therefore lacks inventive step. That said, I would not bother requesting reexamination.
For non-phyisicists amongst my readers, the effect in question appears to defy the well established phenomenon that when the center of gravity of an object is not above the base, it tends to topple over. Thus where Jackson and his supporting dancers appear to lean forward so their midpoint is no longer above their feet, they should fall flat on their faces. This is all based on the assumption that the body has more or less constant density throughout. I used to think that Jackson achieved the effect by having a lobotomy along with the extensive surgery he underwent.
Incidentally, there are also easier, less painful and safer ways to perform colour changes, but I digress…
Back to defying gravity, for a less mundane approach, see: Anti-gravity Patent: the United States Patent Office Looking Patently Foolish