Michael Jackson didn't really have a super-human ability to defy gravity.

That's according to a recent article by CNN that's almost hilarious to read. If you're one of those who prefers not knowing how a magician performs his "magic" tricks, I'd suggest you don't read any further. Otherwise, continue for a really fascinating read.

Fans first witnessed Jackson's superhuman feat in his 1988 music video for "Smooth Criminal."

In it, Jackson and his backup dancers lean forward at a 45 degree angle, hold it for a moment before smoothly returning to an upright position. Jackson would also perform the move during shows and performances, further convincing fans that it wasn't a gimmick of the camera. Except, it was still a gimmick.

"It's not really possible physically to do it," CNN quotes neurosurgeon Dr. Nishant Yagnick. "He was cheating gravity." Dr. Yagnick's colleague and fellow Jackson fan adds, "You can bend a maximum of 25 or 30 degrees forward before you fall on your face. I tried to do it, and I fell."

Journal of Neurosurgery
Journal of Neurosurgery

The two doctors -- including a third colleague, all who practice in India where Michael Jackson and his dance moves are highly emulated -- recently published their observations on how exactly Michael Jackson seemed to defy gravity.

The answer, it turns out, wasn't superhero strength but specially designed shoes. 

United States Patent Jackson, et al.
United States Patent Jackson, et al.

Invented by Jackson and two others, these particular shoes were designed to allow the wearer to lean forward beyond the center of gravity. According to the description in the United States Patent office, "The shoes have a specially designed heel slot which can be detachably engaged with the hitch member by simply sliding the shoe wearer's foot forward, thereby engaging with the hitch member." In other words, a special catch in the heel of the shoe caught on a hitch in the floor (think nail or screw) that -- when caught -- - kept the wearer in place, thus allowing them to lean forward. These shoes went on to be patented in 1993.

Still, the shoes did require some degree of physical strength and fitness, as the afore-mentioned doctors explain. "Even with that shoe," said Dr. Tripathi, "I am not able to do 45 degrees. You need a very good core of strength, and that strength was in Michael Jackson and his Achilles tendon."

"Particularly in India, where Michael Jackson is very popular," adds Dr. Yagnick, "many people tried to copy him, and some even hurt themselves."

While Michael Jackson's gravity-defying lean may not have been magic, there's no doubt it was legendary. 

For a brief explanation, watch this fascinating video:

Source: CNN

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