In a classic Wallace & Gromit cartoon titled "The Wrong Trousers," a dotty inventor is given a pair of NASA trousers with suction boots that let the wearer walk on ceilings and walls. Animated silliness ensues, but maybe the concept isn't completely silly after all. Physics students at the University of Leicester ran the numbers and found that such boots just might be sucky enough to work in real life. "The vacuum generator required would need to be powerful enough to reduce the pressure in the boot by 18.5kPa. This suction is consistent with a low vacuum, and hence is feasible," Katie Raymer and her colleagues report.
Feasible, but impractical. The battery would run out in 20 minutes or so, which would leave Wallace hanging. And the boots wouldn't work in the vacuum of space. (Sorry, NASA!) The study, timed to coincide with "Wrong Trousers Day" on Friday, is the latest in a string of Leicester research papers looking at topics ranging from the capabilities of Batman's cape to the trouble with "Star Trek" teleportation.
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— Alan Boyle, NBC News
First published June 27 2014, 6:52 AM