How to Do the Anti-Gravity Water Trick

Anti-Gravity Water Science Trick
Water has a high surface tension. You can use this property to make water appear to defy gravity in an easy science trick.

Gravity makes rives flow to the sea and rain fall from the sky, but you can use science know-how to prevent water from falling from a bottle or glass to the ground. The anti-gravity water trick doesn’t really defy gravity, but water’s interesting properties make it appear otherwise. Here’s how to perform this simple trick, a look at how it work, and how to turn it from a cool science demonstration into a science experiment.

Do the Anti-Gravity Water Trick – Method #1

The first method looks a bit like magic because it looks like you’re upending a water bottle, but commanding the water to stay inside.

  • Bottle of water, mostly full
  • Either a rubber band or the plastic band the held the cap onto the bottle
  • Plastic wrap (like Saran wrap)
  • Tiny floating objects, like wooden beads or match sticks

If you’re afraid you might squeeze a plastic bottle and force the water out, use a glass bottle instead.

  1. Remove the plastic ring that attached the cap to the bottle. Plastic piece of plastic wrap over the bottle opening and return the plastic ring to the bottle to hold it firmly in place. Alternatively, secure plastic wrap over the bottle opening with a rubber band.
  2. If you want to appear tricky, trim the plastic wrap edges to it looks like you just have an open bottle of water.
  3. Poke a tiny hole in the plastic wrap.

When you turn the bottle over, the water doesn’t drip out. You can insert tiny floating objects, like bits of wood or beads, through the hole. They will float, but won’t make the water run.

Do the Anti-Gravity Water Trick – Method #2

You can cover the bottle with a small piece of cheesecloth instead of plastic wrap. The trick works the same, since the holes in the cloth are still large enough that you can poke beads or matches through them. The only significant different is that the cloth is visible, so this is more of a science demonstration than science trick.

Do the Anti-Gravity Water Trick – Method #3

  1. Cover the opening of a water glass or wine glass with cheesecloth or a handkerchief.
  2. Push a depression into the cloth and pour water through the cloth into the glass until it’s about three-quarters full.
  3. Stretch the cloth over the glass. Either hold it or secure it with a rubber band.
  4. Invert the glass. Even though you poured water through the cloth into the glass, it doesn’t fall back through the cloth out of the glass. It’s like it’s unaffected by gravity!

How the Anti-Gravity Water Trick Works

It seems that if you can pour water through a cloth that the water should also flow out of the cloth. However, when you tighten the cloth over the glass, it pulls the fabric and makes the holes very small. Meanwhile, water molecules are attracted to each other by hydrogen bonding, giving water a high surface tension. Essentially, the water forms a thin membrane that can’t slip through the small holes.

Poking a hole in a piece of plastic works just like using cloth. However, it’s important that the hole be small, otherwise the water will drip out.

Turn the Science Trick Into an Experiment

The anti-gravity water science trick is cool, but it’s a project more than an experiment. However, you can turn it into a science experiment by changing factors in the project, making a prediction about what will happen (form a hypothesis), and then conducting an experiment to see the results. Here are some ideas of water to adjust the project:

  • Does the project work with water-based liquids? You can try orange juice, sea water, salt water, or sugar water.
  • What do you think happens if you use oil instead of water?
  • If you do the project using plastic wrap, how big can the hole get before the project won’t work?
  • Are there any fabrics that won’t work?
  • What do you think will happen if you add a squirt of dishwashing detergent to the water?

Test your hypothesis and see if you can explain your results!