Suspend Your Disbelief: These Drinks Defy Gravity

Here's something to lift your spirits: a cup that can hover. (Image credit: Joel Paglione)

What could be better than a drink in your hand? How about a drink that can levitate?

It's not magic — it's electromagnetic suspension. A wireless block and special cups with magnetic bases create the magical illusion of a drink that hovers like a hummingbird.

Dubbed "Levitating CUP," the gravity-defying effect is purely aesthetic — and that's exactly the point, according to creator Joel Paglione. He told Live Science that while many restaurants explore novel ways of displaying food more attractively to enhance the dining experience, far less attention is paid to the way drinks are delivered — and he decided to change that. [Gifts for Geeks: Fun Gift Ideas for Him or Her]

"I wanted something that could wow everyone," Paglione said. "So much focus is on plating, on unique presentation in terms of food. I wanted to create something that would complement what restaurants are doing, and create a spectacle with the drink itself."

"Gravity defying" cups can deliver whatever beverage floats your boat. (Image credit: Joel Paglione)

In recent years, so-called liquid nitrogen cocktails — drinks served in glasses chilled with liquid nitrogen to create clouds of vapor — have risen in popularity, and are featured in many celebrated watering holes, Paglione said. So there would seem to be an eager audience ready for a little more "wow" with their whiskey.

"And no one's done something visual like levitating it," he added.

An uplifting experience

What keeps Levitating CUP aloft are magnetic forces at play between the cup and a small, electrically powered base. Magnets in the cup's bottom and in the base repel each other, while electricity in the base interacts with the magnetic field, creating a state where the cup is stabilized and suspended in the air.

It might take a little practice to perfect how to set your drink down on an invisible surface, but once the cup is in place, it balances well, even while being carried, Paglione said. To help users get started, a "Levitating Assist" attachment for the base provides extra stability until people get the hang of suspending a cup in midair.

Paglione said he initially created a wired base for the floating cup but quickly realized that a wireless design would be more practical. This is the first electromagnetic suspension system to offer a wireless option, he told Live Science. The base lasts up to 8 hours on a full charge, allowing users to transport their suspended drinks across a bar or from room to room, he said.

Paglione is raising money for the project through a Kickstarter campaign that will run through Aug. 19. If it's fully funded, wired and wireless versions of the "Levitating CUP" are expected to ship by October. It's an idea that might prompt you to raise your glass — if they hadn't already done it for you.

Original article on Live Science.

Mindy Weisberger
Live Science Contributor

Mindy Weisberger is an editor at Scholastic and a former Live Science channel editor and senior writer. She has reported on general science, covering climate change, paleontology, biology, and space. Mindy studied film at Columbia University; prior to Live Science she produced, wrote and directed media for the American Museum of Natural History in New York City. Her videos about dinosaurs, astrophysics, biodiversity and evolution appear in museums and science centers worldwide, earning awards such as the CINE Golden Eagle and the Communicator Award of Excellence. Her writing has also appeared in Scientific American, The Washington Post and How It Works Magazine.