Born out of a Love for science

Capturing the Magic of physics Through The spillnot

My name is Joshua Millstein, and while studying physics at UCSC during my undergraduate years, I worked in the physics lab and was fascinated by the demonstrations.  However, I thought the amazingness of these concepts could be brought to people in a fun and exciting form that anyone could enjoy, even people who are not physics students.

That’s when I first realized that a gadget like the SpillNot, could not only demonstrate cool physics but also be fun and useful in everyday life. 

Later, when working as Mathematical Statistician at the National Marine Fishery Service, NOAA, I told a colleague about the idea, and he said, “it would definitely be successful if it worked, but it would never work.” That was a challenge that inspired me even more.


Process of invention

at first you won’t succeed, so try try again

The first proof-of-concept prototype (piece of wood with a coat hanger and a shoestring — the one on the far left) took me about a half hour to make, plus a couple hours for the glue to dry. Then there was a clay version, a beeswax version followed by two-part resin in a silicon mold, then a series of plastic machined versions before making the first one that was good enough to sell from plastic injection steel mold. 

Although the end product may look simple, a lot of thought went into the question of how to achieve a simple, strong and functional design. 

One of the ironies of a patentable invention is that it must be non-obvious, but a mark of a great invention is that people say, “why didn’t I think of that?”

spillnot recognition

the spillnot is making a difference

The SpillNot has received important recognition such as being an innovative new product selected by Business Insider and the Invention Recognition Award at the Chicago Housewares show (picture on the right), however, even more important is the feedback I get from individual people who use the SpillNot. 

People have told me that the SpillNot has made their lives easier. A young woman from Portland Oregon said it helped her relationship with her fiancĂ©e because she was no longer aggravating him with coffee spills on their wood floor. An ice hockey player who is paraplegic due to an accident on the ice said that the SpillNot allowed him to be more independent by helping him carrying his own drinks and food. A 16 yr old girl with cerebral palsy received a SpillNot for her birthday and she said it was the best gift she had ever received because it allows her to carry a drink like she is a normal person. A UK man with crutches said that it is a game-changer for carrying a drink across the house. It’s feedback like this that makes me feel that all the effort I have put into the SpillNot over the years since 2010 has been worth it.