The Science of Magic

The Science of Magic

Show Video

Hello and welcome to a sneak peek at the  science of magic! My name is Sean Lee Ying,   I'm a Researcher Programmer at the Ontario Science  Centre, and the host for today's jam-packed event!   We'll be explaining the science behind stage  magic with creator of Illusionarium, Jamie Allan,   focus on the importance of perception,  perspective and commonly used tricks that   create convincing illusions with Experimental  Psychologist, Professor Richard Wiseman,   and he will teach you some tricks you can share  with your family and friends, courtesy of our   magicians at Illusionarium. After, you'll want to  stick around before the end because we're going to   have a grand finale trick, live from Illusionarium  in downtown Toronto. To our viewers, we would love   to hear from you, so when you think of the word  magic, what one or two words come to your mind?   Please add those comments in the chat below and  any other questions you may have for our magicians   throughout the presentation, and we'll try to get  to as many questions as possible. I would like to  

start with the land acknowledgement. I acknowledge  that the magicians of Illusionarium and I are   participating in this event on Aboriginal land  that has been inhabited by Indigenous people from   the beginning. We are speaking to you today from  the city of Toronto. We acknowledge that the land   we live on is the traditional territory of many  Nations including the Mississaugas of the Credit,   the Chippewa, the Haudenosaunee, and the Wendat  Peoples, and is now home to many diverse First   Nations, Inuit and Métis people. I acknowledge  that Toronto is covered by Treaty 13, signed with  

the Mississaugas of the Credit, and the Williams  Treaties, signed with multiple Mississaugas and   Chippewa bands. Acknowledging this relationship  to the land is an ancient practice, and today,   as we discuss the science of magic to express our  gratitude and the opportunity to be here, and we   thank all generations of people who have taken  care of this land since time immemorial. Thank   you. And now, to start things off, we are going  to head to downtown Toronto at Illusionarium,   and start off with an astounding trick. Here are  the world-renowned magicians of Illusionarium! Now that was amazing! Please show our  love and your love for the magicians   of Illusionarium in our chat, and thank you so  much! We'll see them later as they will show us   and teach us some science magic tricks. Now,  we're going to head over to the United Kingdom  

with our special guest, the creator of  Illusionarium, Jamie Allan! Jamie Allan   world-renowned magician, now using  magic with high-tech technology.   Many people call him the eye magician or the  high-tech Houdini, and for good reason! He is   the UK's original technology magician, performing  and designing incredible modern illusions   using leading edge technology and innovative  methods; incorporating iPads, holograms,   laser beams, and lots, lots more. In 2017, he was  bestowed the highest honor of the Magic Circle,   becoming one of the very few members of the Inner  Magic Circle, joining the ranks of Harry Houdini   and David Copperfield in this internationally  acclaimed and historic society. At this time,   I'd like to share with you a clip of how Jamie  Allan has merged technology and magic together.

Mixing technology with magic,  Jamie Allan has performed for   millions of people all over the world. The most televised British illusionist of the last  decade, Jamie Allan is the market leader in high   technology theatrical illusion, augmented reality,  motion tracking, hologram simulations, iMagician's   first shows in the USA in Chicago broke records  for the most amount of tickets ever sold for a   magic show. Jamie Allan is considered to be one of  the most innovative magicians in the world today,   creating stunning and beautiful digital  illusions which will reignite your childhood   sense of wonder. iMagician, the world's  leading technology illusion spectacular. Please join me in welcoming Jamie Allan!  Hi Sean, how are you doing? Hi thanks,   how are you doing, Jamie? Thank you for joining us  today! Oh you're welcome, we almost got the time   wrong! You had daylight savings the other  day, we all thought it was seven o'clock!   It's gonna be a very short show for you, Sean.  I would have to do all the tricks myself!  

We just, you know we all just saw this incredible  video of you, I'm curious, what inspired you to   do magic? I've always done magic, since as long  as I can remember. I was five years old, most   magicians start off with a magic kit, and I'm not  that different. I did get one but my parents used   to run a cabaret theater, they were performers  themselves, and then I had to go to school so they   decided to settle down and give me a normal life,  and so they did the only thing they were capable   of, Sean, and they bought a pub and they figured  this would be a really good upbringing for me. They moved into this pub and they knocked out part  of it to make a small theater, and in this theater   I saw a magician when I was five, and he made a  person levitate and I saw it with my own eyes,   it was like effectively in my living room, you  know, because I always hung out in the theater,   and I went to my dad afterwards like how how could  that be possible? You know, and my dad rather than   telling me "it's magic, Jamie", which is the  correct dad answer, he told me how the trick   was done, and I was fascinated by the gadgetry  and this idea that "what? You can fool people   like this?", and I was just hooked, and I've never  looked back. I got a magic set this Christmas and  

I did my first show when I was eight years old,  and I've been professional since I was 16. So   I've never really known anything else, it's just  always been in my blood. Oh wow that's incredible,   I love how your family and your dad was teaching  you the gadgetry and incorporating the technology,   and you carry that throughout your shows, in fact.  Actually I have a question for our viewers who are   watching, when we talk about magic, sometimes we  have to change those words magic and illusions.  

Jamie can you tell me if there's a difference  between magic and illusions? So there is more of   a difference - well there's two ways of looking at  this. Sure, I mean, first of all in our business,   we consider that a magician is more kind of  sleight of hand, more coins, cards ,comedy,   and an illusionist is a lot more money. This is  the only difference. It costs a lot more money   and it's a lot of logistics, but that's  usually because in our business, we   perceive an illusionist with the big boxes and  the big show. But the truth of it is really magic,   if you consider magic sleight of hand, then  illusion is something that is like an optical   illusion or something that just appears to be  happening when it's not, I would say that was   the clear distinction. But we're not offended  if you get the titles mixed up, you know,   I'm called a magician and an illusionist,  and that's that's okay by me. That's awesome,  

that's awesome. And well we're here to discuss  the relationship between science and magic,   and there are many similarities, like the process  of performing a trick and the process of carrying   out experiments are basically the same thing. At  the Science Centre, I know that when we describe   the process of science is, well on my shirt it  says "Ask, test and repeat". Can you share your   thoughts on this relationship between science  and magic for us? Yeah I can! And first of all,   I wanted to touch on what the rules of magic  are, because these all relate back to this, Sean,   you know because there are very we're drawing here  from a very limited pool. Science is so broad,   but magic is limited to very, very few effects.  There are only really five things that you can  

do with magic. If it's okay, I'm going to try and  demonstrate a couple of them for you, because I   know we've got a few kids watching this, so you'll  really get a kick out of this. Behind me, it's   kind of out of focus, but this is like my mini  museum. It's like a magic shop that I built for  

a grown-up, and it's housing a lot of old magic  books and old magic tricks, but I'm a collector   of these tricks called tenyo magic tricks from  Japan. They're kind of plasticky and they're   kind of gadgety, but they use a lot of scientific  principles in them, so I thought it'd be fun to   explain the five rules of magic. Rule one: you can  only make something appear, that's the first thing   you can do. So let me show you something here on  this other camera. And we've got a little box,  

and this really is genuinely science, this box,  it's very thin walled, it's kind of translucent,   you can see through it, and it sits in front  of this kind of stripy background so that   you can see the stripes then through the box so it  gives you some kind of perspective. This is like a   David Copperfield illusion in miniature. Remember  when he made the Statue of Liberty disappear?   If you watch, this will make the Statue of Liberty  actually appear! Oh wow! See it there, it's real.   And that's the rule one, you can make something  appear. I love playing with these gadgets,   these are like my toys, so this is a really good  day for me. You can make something disappear,   Sean! So we're going to try it with this pen.  Now just making a pen disappear, that's a pretty  

standard magic trick, so we're going to make it  slightly more scientific, we're going to use one   of these, branded curiously, an invisible zone.  You see as the pen, it's going to fit inside,   let me see if I can just jimmy, the hole is exact,  it's going to go inside of the invisible zone.   Interestingly when you open it, it looks like you  can see through because of this mechanism in the   middle, but if I remove the mechanism, you get a  much clearer view right the way through inside,   but as I remove it, you can see that the pen  comes clean out, and that's all the gadgety trick.  

You can cause something to levitate, Sean, you  can cause me to defy the rules of gravity. So here   we've got a little picture, and on this picture,  let me bring this really close to the camera,   if you were here with me Sean I'd give you this so  you can check it out, it's a very, very old trick.   There's no guarantee this is going to work, but  it'll be entertaining regardless. This is printed,   it's got a magician and his assistant printed  on this little background, it seems kind of   funny when you look at it like this, but if I put  into this little theater, you can see inside the   theater. If you watch the magician, rule three  levitation, you can see right off of the picture   the little person actually floats up in the air,  but yet that really is printed on there, that's   that's rule three, that's levitation. And if you  hang around viewers, to the end of this show,  

you're gonna see ... maybe, maybe if you're lucky  you might see a big version of this at the end of   the show, live, revolutionary, which is getting  really cool! Rule four is you can cause something   to pass through a solid object. Now I have like  a jewelry case here that's a little ring, this is   solid, we've got a little miniature magician  sword. I love these tricks, they're so tiny.  

We're so used to working with all these big  boxes, these are really gadgety and cute,   and these are so many science principles. The  ring sits inside of the box and we lock it in,   and I've got a little tube here which I don't know  if you can see in there, maybe you can see inside,   there's nothing inside anyway, there's nothing  like on the top. And the little sword, let me turn   this around a bit so that you can see, the little  sword goes through the box. Can you see that Sean?  

Yes, perfectly. I'm gonna rest the sword on  the top and it happens on three. One, two,   three. And as we push down, now you'll see that-  check this out- the little sword has gone all the   way through the plastic and indeed the ring and,  rule five! Rule five, the last one, all magic   tricks are based on: you can make something  appear, you can make something disappear,   you can cause something to levitate, you can pass  a solid object through a solid object, or lastly   you can break something and you can put it  back together again. Now this was recently   celebrated because this was invented by P.T.  Selbit, who's the man who invented the idea of   cutting a person in half, and this was recently  100 years old. And we're not going to do that   illusion for you, but I'll show you how we do it  in a scientific way. A little petri dish here with  

a playing card in, and which I've sliced  up with an Exacto knife. Rule 5 is called, let me see if I can show you this up close,  you see rule five will actually cause this   playing card to restore itself back to its  original form, and every magic trick is based-   excuse the little demonstration of my toys  here, but it's a good excuse to get them out-   those are the five rules of magic. Now you were  asking how it applies to science, to magic,   and you were talking about ask, test, repeat.  That was right, Sean? Yeah, yes, that's correct,   yeah. Yeah, now ask, test, repeat, I'm going  to demonstrate this using a deck of cards,   and this is no gadgetry now, we're going to be  using sleight of hand and some optical techniques.   Now ask, test, repeat. So first of all we're going  to ask, so asking you Sean to name a playing card  

from this deck and that's going to form our test  subject. So which card would you like us to use   today, Sean? How about the three of hearts? Three  of hearts, it's right here, nice and easy to see.   Okay that's good, the three of hearts, now we  genuinely haven't set this up but it really does   not matter for this because it's not really to  do with the card itself. Let me just find here   a pen, I have one, and Sean do you want to tell  me a three digit number and I'm going to write   it on this card. Eight, one, two. Eight, one,  two, okay so we're gonna put the eight, one,   two on, now some of the people that have seen  magic tricks before you might think this number   is gonna become relevant later, like it's a  prediction or something, but it is not, it's   just simply to demonstrate that this is now the  only three of hearts that looks like this, because   otherwise I could have a deck made up all of three  of hearts, I do not. Ask, test, repeat. The test   in this case is going to be to try and get the  card from a location in the middle of the deck   to somewhere where I can find it. The test is to  get it to rise to the top without touching it.  

And the repeat is to be able to do this again  with different methods and achieve the same   exact result each time. Watch, I'm going to put it  in face up so you'll see how it works. It goes in   face up against all the face down cards.  We'll take the ten of spades, second from top,   and it becomes the three. We can we can increase  this experiment a little bit actually by  

marking the card so you can see it. We're going to  put a little bend inside so that you'll be able to   see the card when it's inside the centre of the  deck, I don't know if you can see it there, I   could see that, I can see that, it's right in the  middle. You'll see the magic happen Sean, look. Now this of course is slowly devolving more into  what we would say is sleight of hand, but I want   to show you a scientific way of doing this same  trick, and it uses one of these. This is a camera  

filter, I'm talking to you on a DSLR camera and  these are the kind of filters that drop in front   of the lens just here, and this is a diffusion  filter, it's a harsh light. I'll put it on the   on the close-up camera so that you can see. And  you genuinely can see right through it, you really   can. Yeah. I'll just see if- you can see that on  the camera can't you, Sean? Perfectly, we could   see right through, and as you split those harsh  lights too. Yeah exactly, yeah exactly, now we're   going to take the three, let's see if we can take  that bend out a little bit, I don't want to cheat.   Well I am cheating, but I don't want you to see  how. And watch the three, it's going to go in  

face up against all of the face down cards.  We put it in quite low down. Let me get the   camera in really close on it. You saw the  card continually rising up in the pack Sean.   You saw that. This will create the illusion of  that happening, watch that top card. Watch it.

You see and it's not an illusion, it genuinely  is here, and it has risen all the way back up   through the deck and that is how we would  describe the relationship ask, test, repeat. Wow that was incredible! And our audience at  home, I can see they just absolutely love it,   thanks for sharing that with us! And it does  always be that process of science, and in fact, we   actually have a viewer question and it's directly  related to this, how does magic that related to   science help us with innovating? And I think that  you demonstrated that with that trick over there.   Like I mentioned earlier, we're drawing from a  very small pool, Sean. So I mean in the case of   that trick, I actually didn't invent that trick,  a friend of mine invented it and they allowed me   to perform it. I create most of my own magic now  for our stage show iMagician, which is a touring   theater show, that blends magic and technology.  So we're trying to use innovations before they   become so much in the public knowledge.  We do magic with technology, not because  

we're just trying to be modern but because we're  trying to be relevant, and we try to do magic   with things that people are familiar with. And  in the old days a magician would wear a top hat   or the audience would have top hats so they could  borrow one and produce things from it, maybe even   a rabbit in days gone by, and nowadays, that  would seem - pardon the pun - very old hat. So   instead, everybody's carrying an iPhone in their  pockets, so magicians are constantly innovating,   but by looking at new technologies and science,  and maybe we'll talk about Robert Hudan if there's   time, there was a great story with him when  he used the electromagnet first. To be honest,   that we don't mind if we reveal this trick, are  we sure this be okay? I think it's okay, yes,   I think it's okay. It's a very, very old trick,  and if you if you did this as a magic trick today,   everybody in the audience would know how it was  done. But but take yourself back to the 1800s  

and you're sat in a theater in Paris and a man  comes out with a wooden chest, puts it on the   ground, and he says that anybody can lift it -  a small child can lift the chest. He gets the   strongest person from the audience and takes  all their power from them and they try as hard   as they can and they cannot lift the chest off  the floor, but yet the child can lift it again,   and how was it done? It was an electromagnet. They  put a steel plate on the bottom of the trunk and   under the stage they had a powerful electromagnet,  and if you're listening to this you probably think   well that's so easy anybody would know. But if you  didn't know about electromagnets and they hadn't  

really been invented, most people had didn't even  know about magnets, so it seemed like a miracle,   but then very quickly, magicians have always had  to evolve. Yeah and it's constantly evolving, and   we're always applying those five rules or one of  those five rules of magic, as you said before,   and actually what's really neat is we were talking  earlier, when viewers watch a magic tricks, they   could view it in two different ways. Either they  view it as "oh I'm part of the magic trick, I'm   taken in, you create the wonder, the magic, you're  surrounded by that magical moment". Others just   look at the trick and then they say themselves "I  know how he did that" or "I'm going to figure out   how to do that trick", and what I like about  mad magic is that it lets people follow that   scientific method. If you want to figure out the  trick, you have to do these test conditions. You  

have to try to replicate it, and many times  when they try to replicate those tricks,   they find different ways of doing those  tricks. Sometimes even better, sometimes   not the exact same way. But you do a lot of stage  illusions and you're talking about technology,   one of the coolest technologies that I think  has been incorporated into magic is something   called the Pepper's Ghost effect, and Jamie, I  hope you don't mind do you mind, do you mind if   I share a Pepper's Ghost effect that the  Science Centre has created? No, no, please!   Absolutely. So we have this transparent- and this  is something that our viewers at home can make,   but I just have this transparent sheet and I'm  going to place it onto my phone, just like this,   and as I place it on my phone, I'm just going  to use a black background, but it appears   as if the world, oops, is... I don't know if  you can see that, but it appears as if the earth   is on - let's go - can you see that Jamie? Yeah  I can see it, yeah, and if you were able to turn   that round without it falling down, you'd be able  to see it from all sides as well, that there would   be a three-dimensional little globe that's  floating on the top of the phone. Yes, yeah,  

exactly, and this is really, really neat, and  what's happening is that I have the image on my   phone of the Earth, and all I'm doing is I'm just  placing it and it's reflecting off the surface   to create and make it look like that the earth is  right inside that little glass, and it's neat how   we can throw these images in different places.  You've used the Pepper's Ghost effect in your   stage magic and it's been used throughout history.  Can you tell our audience a little bit about   the advancements of this Pepper's Ghost effect?  Absolutely, I mean Pepper's Ghost has more of an   impact on society than you would realize. I mean  it was invented by Henry Pepper back in the 1800s.   He was certainly the first person to patent it.  He created it with a guy called Dircks. There's  

a long story there, too long for us to get into  the actual invention of this, but but basically,   I mean Pepper's Ghost is nothing more than when  you're in your house at night time and there's   lights on and say your kitchen and you're looking  out through a patio door and you see your own   reflection back at you, and it doesn't appear to  be reflected in there like a mirror, it appears to   be some distance from it. It's the same distance  away from the glass as you are, so it appears if   you are two feet away from the glass the image  would be two feet behind the glass. And although   that just seems like an everyday occurrence,  Pepper realized that if he could fit the glass   in a certain way, at a certain angle, and hide the  glass from view, because it was perfectly clear   and nobody knew it was there in the first place,  he could create this image of ghosts on stage,   and it absolutely took the world by storm. It  took London by storm and he had a patent on it.   Now since then, this same technology is being used  constantly in everyday life. Like teleprompters  

for reading scripts, you know this uses what  is effectively a Pepper's Ghost. It's an angled   piece of glass and there's a television monitor  below it and it's reflecting the words, and   because it's in front of the lens, the lens is  looking through the glass and it appears clear   from there. It's used as a head-up display in a  car, you know we all see those things where they   appear floating, and these car manufacturers,  they hark it around as some new technology,   and even years after in the old days, we used to  use Pepper's Ghost by having actors lying on their   back in the orchestra pit, being reflected by  this glass, pretending to be kept against a black   background, and it was very hot down there, you  know with the incredible light they had to have.   And nowadays, it's been reinvented a  lot for concert technology. When you see   it now pitched out as a hologram, no longer  as Pepper's Ghost, it's now a hologram.  

I actually have the very first, I believe this is  the very first description of it in a magic book.   This is a first edition of Robert Houdan's The  Secrets of Stage Conjuring. He didn't actually   invent this, I'll see if I can put this page up  for you, but you can see here how the person was   below the stage, this picture is actually wrong.  If they were standing at that angle, they wouldn't   be reflected correctly, but it's purely for  illustrated purposes. And you can see where the   glass is and where the performer appears to be on  stage with a ghost standing next to them. So it's  

a fascinating thing, and if you're into this kind  of thing, you can look up this, it's available to   the general public, it's called The Science Behind  the Ghost by Jim Steinmeyer, and this has the   entire history and all these diagrams, and it even  has a Pepper's Ghost in the back that you can try.   We have been using modern technologies to combine  it with the old technology of Pepper's Ghost,   and now we've achieved a system where we can have  multiple layers of projection - in fact we can   play a little video of one of my early versions  of that - we can put that up on the screen so   everybody can see. And you can see how here  we're using a traditional Pepper's Ghost set up,   but the screen is invisible to the audience, and  we don't present it as a magic trick you know,   we tell the audience how it works. In fact in my  presentation, I say this is exactly how this is   going to work but that will not stop it looking  like magic. But of course, what we've done is   worked out how we can interact with real world  props and things within it, so if we make a person   appear floating on the hologram, then we make them  into a real person and that real person floats up   and out of the hologram. In fact if this video  stays running, you'll probably see that moment  

in a minute. And at Illusionarium we've devised  an entirely new system again, which we don't know   it's been done before, but we we think it might be  the first time that we've created this dual layer   hologram system. So it really now looks like  a three-dimensional movie and we've recreated   Harry Houdini in Illusionarium, so you get to  meet Houdini and see him standing before you and   telling you about the history of magic. Here  we are, you can see this is a real person now,   and it was a hologram a moment ago. And and you'll  see how they float up and away and at the end they  

disappear back into the hologram technology. But  it's amazing how it's still being used to this   day and it's still entertaining people and this is  a great example, Sean, of how a magic trick does   not have to fool people. This is not a magic trick  but it looks miraculous and it feels wonderous and   that's really what the magician's job is, Sean,  is to make you have that sense of wonder that we   have when we're children and to just to watch the  impossible unfold before your eyes, that's really   what the magician's job is, not to not to trick  you, we don't want to trick you. No you create   that sense of wonder is exactly what magicians do,  and we're seeing that over and over again today,   and our viewers love it. Actually I do have a  quick viewer question, they want to know where you   learned magic? Where did you learn magic? Books.  Nearly everything that I learned, I learned from   books. A great magician once said to me "if  you want to keep a secret write it in a book,  

nobody will read it". All of the best magic tricks  are hidden away in some of the oldest magic books   and I get a lot of inspiration from those and I'll  take some of those tricks and we'll try and find   a new way of doing them for a modern audience,  you know, and try and completely reinvent them   so they don't even sometimes recognize the  original trick in there. But yeah the best   way I think to learn magic is by books, and I say  that because when you read it and you digest it,   you remember it. Whereas if you just watch it on  a video and try to repeat it, you might be able  

to do it in the moment but you forget it. And  so my recommendation is always old magic books.   Now before we move on to our next guest, thank  you so much for joining us. One last question:   any advice or words of encouragement for future  budding magicians? Do you know, I almost just   touched on it then, is looking at the past. If you  are into magic and you're watching this stream,   and magic dealers would hate me and they  they have a lot of really cool new stuff out,   and it's always fun to play with, but if you  want it to be original and you want to get on   with it, I think it's better to try and either  create your own magic, and if you can't do that   look for old magic that nobody's doing anymore.  These pages behind me are filled with hundreds   and hundreds of thousands of tricks that are just  waiting to be rediscovered, and I would say look   to the past and find a way to bring it back up  to date, and practice and practice, practice,   unlike I did with the plasticky tricks  at the start here, Sean, I was just   pulling these things off my shelf at the  start of the show thinking this will be fun.  

A lot of fun! Well thank you so much, Jamie, for  joining us! It's been an honor and our pleasure to   have you with us and, thank you for giving us your  time. Oh it's my pleasure Sean, we hope to see you   down at Illusionarium when we open. Yes, take care  Jamie! Oh, an absolute pleasure, thanks everybody!   And now we're going to move on to our  next special guest who's also from the UK,   from Scotland, Professor Richard Wiseman! And  he is one of the most innovative, interesting,   experimental psychologists in the world. He  has books that have sold over 3 million copies   and he regularly appears in media. In fact, he  holds Britain's only professorship in the public   understanding of psychology at the University of  Hartfordshire, and he's a close friend of Jamie's,   and some of his famed visual puzzles are actually  in Illusionarium. Also he's a member of the Inner   Magic Circle and has created psychology-based  YouTube videos that have attracted over   half a billion - billion! - views. And here's  one of those videos, it's called Assumptions.

Hi Professor Wiseman, thank you for joining us  today all the way from Scotland! We're delighted   to have you here. And you're a magician  and celebrated experimental psychologist,   so you study magic and science. You kind of put  them together, can you tell our audience how   science and magic are integrated  together and how you came to study magic?   I studied magic through my grandfather who showed  me a coin trick many, many years ago. I wanted to   know how it was done so I did what Jamie did, I  went to the library, I read books and eventually   found out the secret and I got hooked on magic.  So yeah, get into books, get into reading. In   terms of the relationship between magic and  science, well magicians are kind of scientists.  

They go out and they do experiments and those  experiments have to work all the time under pretty   much every circumstance and fool the people in the  room! And if they don't work and someone sees how   the trick's done, then they go back and change  the experiment and try it again until it works,   and that's kind of how science works  as well. So lots of similarities there.   That's great, and there are many similarities  and parallels between magic and science,   but when people hear magic or illusions, they  think of deception or being deceived. But another   way of looking at this is looking at perception  and how the magician can guide us through a trick.   Can you explain the difference between like  deception and perception, or just explain them and   highlight how magicians use these in illusions?  Yeah magicians have to be good psychologists,   they have to know where you put your attention,  they have to know how you see the world, they have   to know how you remember the world in order to  fool you. But what's the real difference between  

illusions and magic is that magic needs a  magician, it's needed for someone to put a   coin into their hand to blow on it and to make  it disappear. Where illusions, well everyone   can experience on their own. You can go into a  gallery or a room and see some optical illusions.   So magic really depends on that magician,  but yes they have to understand psychology.   If you don't understand how the mind works,  you're not going to be a great magician.   And actually some of your famed puzzles and  illusions are actually featured in Illusionarium.  

Can you show us some fun optical illusions or  illusions and explain the psychology behind them,   like what's happening inside our brains  when we see them? Yeah certainly, I can   do. I don't think it'll work actually on  on the camera so you'll have to tell me,   but this is one of my favorites here. So  you're seeing a big mask of Albert Einstein,   obviously a scientist, and when I move it my hope  is that he moves in a rather weird kind of way.   He sort of moves in the opposite way to the way  you'd expect him to. Yes! And the reason that is   that - it's very straightforward - if I turn him  around you'll, see that you're actually looking   at a mask that goes in. Oh wow! Yeah, I can  actually put my hand right inside there, it's   a kind of hollow mask. It's really, really weird,  and that allows it to move in all sorts of ways.

And that tells us huge amounts about the human  mind. You normally see a face that comes out,   so when you see something that looks like that,  you assume that's the case, and in fact you're   looking at a mask that goes in. And so you  kind of fool yourselves with that illusion.   Really, really simple, but tells us a lot about  how your mind's working. Yeah, do you have any  

other illusions you could share with our viewers?  No it's just the one. No no, I'm just kidding!   I've got a few others here. So again,  now let me see if I can see myself here,   so that's good, hopefully that's looking  like six circles there. Six cylinders.   You ever got those? Now all I'm going to do, I'll  try and keep this in shot, is just turn it around, and it changes. What? Four to eight. Eight kind  of squares. Let me just turn that around again. Oh  

okay, we had ... well it's like changing shape  before ... it's like morphing! It's very, very   clever. Very, very clever. Now this was invented  by a Japanese illusionist, and it's so smart it's,   it's very difficult to see this kind of  wavy surface there, you put it in shot,   there's a wavy surface which means from  certain angles it looks like six cylinders,   other angles it looks like eight squares.  So again, this is all to do with perception,   you know, it depends the angle of which you're  looking at something means the way in which   you see it, and so it's actually useful in life  because you've got a certain perspective on life,   you see the world in a certain way, other people's  have other perspectives, they see the world their   way. And often that can lead to lots of arguments  and so on, you're often looking at the same thing   from different perspectives, and that's what that  illusion is all about. And that's pretty neat that  

magicians could play on people's assumptions of  how they're used to viewing the world to trick   them into seeing or viewing things in a different  way, and that's really fascinating. Yeah I mean   we don't realize we have these assumptions, I  mean that's why magic works a lot of the time.   We think we're pretty good observers and we're  really seeing what's in front of our eyes,   but to do that, to process all that visual  information, would require a brain the size of the   planet. So what our brain does is really smart,  it makes assumptions, it assumes that when you see   a face it's a face that's going out towards you  and 99.9 percent of the time, that's right. But   once in a while, we trip ourselves up, that's what  illusions celebrate, it what's magic celebrates.  

I can show you one other one here, I hope ... I  have seen reflections on this, I'm hoping if I   can just ... that's got it. Looks like a fairly  normal face. Yeah! Let's just turn it around Okay, I'll turn it back now  I've got that angle about right.

So it transforms from a fairly normal looking face  into something quite bizarre, and that tells you   something fundamental about the way in which you  process faces. When it's one way up, you must be   using some part of your brain, when it's another  way up, you're using a different part of your   brain. And actually it turns out that when we see  a face the right way up, as it were, we actually   focus in on the details. You're seeing the eyes  and the mouth have been reversed, it's all a bit  

weird. When a face is upside down, our brain flips  to a different type of processing, a more holistic   processing where we see the whole picture, we  don't focus in on details, and we decide that it's   the sort of face we see all the time, a normal  sort of face. So it's a really simple illusion,   but it tells you so much about what's going on in  your head right now. That's that's so impressive,   I'm just curious, is there a favorite illusion  that you have that you want to show our audience?   Yeah, it's probably more of a little stunt than  an illusion, because one of the first things I   ever learned, this is a bottle here and I've got  a 20 euro note, but it works with any note at all,   and you put the coins on top here and the little  stunt, you tell your friends is you have to   remove the note but without disturbing the coins,  and if you understand anything about science, what   they might try and do is pull the note this way in  which case the coins are going to go everywhere.   What you do being a very clever scientist is  you strike down with one finger on the note,   and that flips it out from under  the coins, and leaves the coins   bouncing on the bottle. That's the theory,  I haven't done it for about a decade,  

so fingers crossed on it. Here we  go. Oh no, no it failed! Right,   okay, I'm gonna try again like a good scientist.  Here we go, all right, here we go. Whoa! So that's a good lesson there, if your experiments  don't work first time round, keep trying.   So it's a lovely little stunt when it works, and  it does most of the time, and it's just a nice way   of kind of explaining a little bit about physics  but also, again, that counter-intuitive idea you   think you pull the note, actually you strike down.  Yeah and I love how you mentioned that we have   stunts because a lot of magicians incorporate  stunts into their performance, whether they're   going to hold their breath for a lot longer  than the average human could hold their breath,   or they need to escape from the chains and stuff,  do you know what what they're thinking about   incorporating stunts into magic versus, like, just  continuously making things disappear and reappear.   Why do you think they've done that, is there ...  Well you possibly answered your own question there  

the word continuously, I mean once you've seen a  coin go into the hand and it disappears, how many   more coins do you want to see vanish? And so what  magicians have to do is really attract a crowd,   and they do that by doing dramatic things,  and sometimes some of those dramatic things   haven't worked out very well for them and  they've injured themselves in various ways,   you should be very careful with these things, but  yes we do like that that sense of drama. Houdini,   one of the world's greatest magicians, would have  been locked up in straight jackets and so on,   hung upside down, he'd always managed to escape.  So I think that sense of drama speaks to that,   but also psychologically, my goodness seeing  somebody do something that's so inspirational,   I think as audience members, we get very excited  about that, inspires us. Magic inspires us   to be greater than we are. Yeah and I think  that's a great note that magic is inspiration,   before you go, is there any tips or advice  you want to share with our audience?   I would say get get into magic, it's wonderful  for building confidence, it's about lateral   problem solving, it helps you socially, and  it's just a really wonderful thing to be into.  

But remember, the secret to most magic tricks  is really, really simple, and if you tell people   that secret, it kind of ruins all the magic for  them. So magicians hold on to their secrets, not   because they just want to hold on to secrets, it's  because it's good for the audience to do that.   So don't tell people how you're doing the tricks,  and treat them like science experiments. When they   don't work, get on that horse again and try it  again, and keep going until you get it right.  

Well thank you so much for joining us, Dr.  Wiseman, it's such a pleasure and honor to have   you with us, and our viewers really appreciate  all the illusions you shared with us as well.   So thank you, I hope you have a wonderful  day! Pleasure, thank you very much!   Take care. And now we're going to head  back to downtown Toronto and Illusionarium,   and please join me in welcoming Cameron Gibson,  Neil Croswell, and Kaitlyn McKinnon. Hello, hello,   hi everyone! How are we getting on? Hi Sean,  how's it going? Hi thanks, hi everyone!   How are all of you doing today? Hey! We're great,  we're great. I want to just give a little bit of  

a background to each of you, what each of you  have done in the magic worlds for our audience,   so they get to get to know you a little bit more.  We're going to start with Cameron, because Cameron   is a world-class magician and a mind reader that  has recently moved to Toronto from Edinburgh,   Scotland. He is a member of London's renowned  Magic Circle, has traveled around the world,   and also Cameron has been featured at many  events, especially the one for the International   Brotherhood of Magicians, sold out multiple  shows for four consecutive years at the Edinburgh   Fringe Festival, which is the largest arts  festival on the planet. Next we have Neil,   and Neil, in 2010, actually became the youngest  person in history to win gold at the Canadian   championships of magic, and has been hailed as the  king of magic in Toronto. Over the next decade,  

he went on to perform and complete tours in  Asia, Africa, North America, Europe, and to date,   he has completed eight headlining Canadian tours  bringing his illusion to countless cities and   eight provinces. Also, he's been seen on  masters of illusion and pen and tellers.   And finally, we have Kaitlyn. Kaitlyn Mckinnon  is an assistant magician demonstrator, and is   delighted to be part of the magical world of  Illusionarium. A graduate from Feng Shui College   Theater Arts program, Kaitlyn now lives  in Toronto where she continues to train,   and her passions of dancing, acting, and singing  makes her a triple threat. Some of her credits   include What a Wonderful World, Picnic, Legally  Blonde, and A Closer Walk with Patsy Cline,   and these are just some of the  performances she's been part of. So welcome   Kaitlyn, and thank you for joining us. And I  believe you have a trick you like to show us,  

isn't there? Yes I do, thank you so much for  the lovely introduction, Sean, and this next   experiment is one that you can try at your at  your home, so let's get started! This is great!   Awesome so all we need for this little trick  is a sealable bag, some pencils, and water.   And also if this is your first time going for  it, I do recommend maybe having a bucket nearby   just in case. So what you're going to do is you're  going to take your bag and pour some water in it, and I always recommend doing probably just  about over half, let's see how we did there.   Oh yeah that's perfect.

All right so in this hand I have a bag of water  and in this hand I have a very, very sharp pencil.   So what do you think would happen if I just  struck this bag really hard with my pencil?   Water would go everywhere, right? Yes  definitely. Well let's see what happens. It went all the way through,  there's a little bit of a drip, but   the water's not going anywhere! Let's  see what happens if we do another one! Look at that, all the way through. Now I'm  the magician here, Sean, but I think you're   more in the science end, can you explain to  us how this happens? Oh for sure, that is a   fun trick to do, putting all  those pencils through the water,   and it's because of the bag and the make of the  bag. It's made up of something called polymers,   which are long strands, in fact if we looked  at un looked at polymers under a microscope,   we see long chains of molecules like this piece  of yarn. When you took your pencil and shoved  

it right through the yarn, what happens is all  those strands actually sealed around the pencil,   keeping a water tight seal, so not allowing the  water to fall out, which is so much fun this is   a great trick to do. And a pros tip, if you're  trying this trick out, you don't want to use   one of those hexagonal pencils as much, you  may want to try one of those clear pencils,   uh, circular pencils I should say, because they go  in a lot smoother. But it forms that seal, which   is fantastic! Thank you for sharing that trick  with us! Amazing thank you so much Sean. That's   great, so make sure you try this at home everyone,  and we actually have a video of the same trick on   the Ontario Science Centre website. But next, I  want to head over to Cameron, because Cameron,  

I believe you have another trick that you like to  show our audience. Yes Sean, at Illusionarium, we   love it when our science looks a little bit like  magic, so I have something here for you. I spent   hours practicing this, and a little bit like Dr.  Wiseman earlier, didn't go so well earlier, so   let's cross our fingers and toes for me. So for  this again, you can do this at home, you can do   this wherever you are right now, and all you need  is a couple of really simple things. So the first   thing you need is a normal balloon, a normal  latex balloon, so I'm going to blow that up.

There we go, and now this is the  hardest part of the entire experiment.   You have to actually tie the balloon in a knot,  I know a lot of people struggle with that,   but yeah I'm a pro, there we go. So you need a  balloon. The next thing you need is you need just   a bag from the grocery store, a plastic bag like  this, and a pair of scissors. So do get an adult   to help you with the scissors if you need to. And  all you're going to do is you're going to cut a   strip from the middle of the plastic bag, now just  to save a bit of time I actually did one earlier,   you can see it here, when you cut a strip  it turns into this this loop of plastic   like this. The final thing you will  need for this experiment is either  

your hair, but I spent like four hours  doing my hair this morning, so instead   I've got a cotton towel. I didn't actually spend  that long do my hair, I know a lot of you at home   will be sitting there thinking "really? Four hours  for that?", but you need a towel or or your hair.   So what you do is you take the cotton  towel with your loop of plastic bag,   and what you're going to do is you're going to rub  it nice and hard like this with your cotton towel,   that should do it, and then you're going to  take the same towel and do the exact same thing   with your balloon. Give it a good kind of a good  rub like this, apologies for any awkward balloon   scratching sounds, it's a horrible sound in the  world, right? It's like nails on a blackboard. There we go, that feels about right, and  hopefully if you get it right, this is where   you need to cross your fingers and toes for me,  hopefully you should be able to take the loop of   plastic like this, put it above the balloon, oh I  nearly had it, let's try it again, and you should   be able ... well I think maybe we need a little  bit more ... I'll tell you what I actually have   a bigger balloon, which I tried a little second  ago, which worked well, let's try it one more time   with my big silver balloon, the trusty silver  balloon, rub it nice and hard with the towel.

And then we're gonna try one more  time with the silver balloon. This balloon is my best friend at the moment. And hopefully, again fingers and toes crossed, I feel good about this one. Here we go,  there we go. Wow! Get it to levitate,   actually I don't know if Patrick's getting that  on camera there because it's levitating so high.  

Yeah we can see it! Try and bring it back into  the shot, and that looks like real magic, right?   Yeah! You're creating levitation and what's  happening here is we're using the principles   of static electricity, so when you are rubbing the  plastic hoop or loop and the balloon, what you're   doing is you're building up negative charges  on the surface of the balloon and the hoop,   and that's stuck right now, and completely  disappeared. Exactly, and those like charges,   well they don't like each other, so they repel,  they push far away, so that loop is pushing   away from the balloon, and that's creating  that levitation effect. That was incredible,   I hope our viewers try that at home, I'm  definitely going to try this at home. And   everyone's been waiting for this grand illusion  trick! So Cameron, I want to turn it over to you   and the stage is yours! Perfect, yeah, so  as I said with that levitation, we love a   science that looks a little bit like magic, and  I know that Jamie got to show off some of his   toys earlier on, but I actually brought one of  my own toys here to Illusionarum with us today.  

Now you may have seen these before, but it's a  kind of similar idea as the plastic bag there,   but this actually uses magnetic levitation, so  it uses magnets and this base here to hopefully   levitate this bulb. It looks absolutely  amazing, although it is completely   science. If you find just the right spot, you can  actually make the bulb completely levitating. Now   just so you can see I've got this pencil, I'm  gonna pass it underneath, the bulb is actually   levitating there, and hopefully you can maybe even  see it spinning. What's even more amazing is that  

you can actually turn the bulb on. Now this uses  a scientific principle called magnetic induction,   but we don't have time to go into that today. You  can ask your teachers about that, that's a very   interesting principle that we use every day today.  But as Jamie and Dr. Wiseman said to you earlier,   magicians love it when we can take inspiration  from technology, or we can use magic to inspire   science, to maybe make things a little bit more  interesting. But what if we took this concept   of magnetic levitation and made it a little bit  bigger? A little bit grander? And we as magicians   applied our knowledge of magic to maybe make  it a little bit more interesting. I think that  

would look pretty amazing, pretty cool. In fact,  it would probably look a little bit like this. I'm going to tell you the secret of  this next illusion before we begin.   And this is it, levitation. It's the most magical  of all illusions, and quantum levitation, also  

known as magnetic levitation. It's the real thing.  It's a technology that has never been perfected,   or has it? Here in our Illusionarium, we  experimented with quantum levitation, but much   bigger than is scientifically possible. If we were  trying to hide the science and make this appear   like a magic trick, we would use everyday objects.  Here we have a real-life hoverboard. Or do we? Sure, right now it just  looks like a plank of wood,   but it will hover, and so will anything that is  put on the top. If this is done with technology,   then a magician would wish to disguise it with all  the trappings of a magic trick, like a tablecloth.  

Under test conditions, we want to show you a truly  impossible levitation, and we ask this question   from you: is this science and technology,  or is it magic? That's for you to decide. That was incredible, so amazing! Please show  your love for the magicians in the chat.   Thank you so much Nneil Croswall, Kaitlyn Mckinnon  and Cameron Gibson for sharing us some of those   cool science magic experiments, and that great  grand finale, and to the rest of you viewing   viewing this program, we would love to hear about  your thoughts of today's events, so take a couple   of minutes at the end of this program to fill out  that short survey, and the link is being posted in   the comments. So on behalf of myself, I just want  to remind you that you can purchase tickets for   Illusionarium at and make sure  to check out their social channels for updates,  

also, for magical science activities you can do  at home please visit the Ontario Science Centre's   social channels, or  I'm Sean, and on behalf of Jamie Allan,   professor Richard Wiseman, Cameron, Neil  and Kaitlyn, we'd like to thank everyone   for joining us, and I want to leave you  with a sneak peek into Illusionarium.

2021-03-22 11:10

Show Video

Other news