The skill of a magician lies in his or her ability to keep you frozen in expectation of their next unbelievable trick. It often seems that magicians really are capable of doing things which defy all known laws of the universe, and the atmosphere of awe they create during their performances helps further reduce any doubts you have that this is all a trick.
We take a look at six of the most famous magic tricks that have amazed people over the years and takes a look at them from a new, more scientific angle to reveal that they are not all that they seem.
Secret 1: Sawing a person in half
We’ve all seen that trick, usually watched with bated breath, in which the magician saws a woman in half? Well, it’s a lot less shocking when you know that there are two assistants inside the magician’s box!
Secret 2: The torn banknote
Some time ago, people wondered how David Copperfield managed to seemingly tear a folded dollar in half right in front of people, then unfold it to reveal that it had been completely undamaged. The secret here is making cunning use of a pencil: the latter has been cut in half diagonally and connected with strong magnets! This allows the banknote to be easily passed between the two magnetised halves and remain undamaged.
Secret 3: Levitation
The secret of this trick, which is highly popular among street magicians, is in the cleverly hidden support. That is why the magicians who perform it often stand in a way which perfectly conceals the end of their staff or rod: the latter simply has an extended support passing through their clothes.
Secret 4: The disappearing cup
A glass of water is placed on the table which is covered with a handkerchief. Then, the magician lifts it up and throws it into the air. The result: the handkerchief falls on the floor, and the glass disappears. The trick here is two-fold: firstly, there’s a wire ring sewn into the handkerchief, which creates the illusion that the glass is underneath the handkerchief. Secondly, the glass is then lowered into a secret pouch through a hole in the table.
Secret 5: The human ’zig-zag’
The success of this trick to a great extent depends on the abilities of the magician’s assistant, whose main task is to be able to maintain her feet and hands in a position similar to that of an ordinary upright human posture inside a very small and oddly-shaped box.
Secret 6: Michael Jackson’s ’anti-gravity lean’
Remember that ’gravity-defying’ lean which Michael Jackson and his dancers performed in the video for the song ’Smooth Criminal’? It looks incredible, as Michael keeps his entire body straight whilst bending his ankles at an acute 45-degree angle. The secret here is in the specially-designed shoes he used, which had a heel that locked into pegs on the floor. With his feet effectively hooked to the ground, Michael was able to perform a seemingly impossible physical manoeuvre.
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