Physics and Magic

Magic and Physics have always had a love-hate relationship. Entertainment magic was perceived as supernatural phenomenon in the ancient era simply because the tricks defied every possible law of Physics.

When people in the ancient times saw magicians defy the laws of physics, such as achieving flight or levitation, they associated the tricks with the supernatural. As a result, magicians became a necessary part of royal courts in ancient Egypt, China and Rome. They were later hunted down by religious zealots and were considered evil.

During the 1500, several books were published to separate entertainment magic from what was generally perceived as sorcery, and several how-to books followed in sixteenth centuries, and entertainment magic was revealed to be a complex combination of cognitive manipulation and use of physical phenomenon to create illusions.

We have discussed in a previous article how neuroscience is benefitting from studies based on entertainment magic. In this article we will focus on the aspects of entertainment magic related to physics.

The most common use of Physics in entertainment is through magnetism. Robert-Houdin used magnets in his light and heavy chests routine, where he would invite a child from the crowd to pick up a small wooden chest, and then he would ask an adult from the same crowd to pick up the chest. The child would easily be able to pick up the chest, but the adult wouldn’t be able to do so.

At that time, very few people knew how Robert-Houdin was making those chests heavier within the fraction of a second, only now we know that those chests were lined with iron, and a powerful magnet was used to pull the chest to the ground, making it so heavy that a fully grown man couldn’t move it. Several other magicians have successfully used several physical phenomena like resonance, magnetism, and gravitation etc to successfully perform levitations, metal bending, and disappearance acts etc. With the level of technology so high that man has sent rovers to Mars, magicians have started incorporating modern technology into their acts increasingly.

While having large setups on stage is rather costly, having small props and small powerful magnets is affordable and more practical. However, technology cannot replace the necessary skills required to be a good magician. Even today, card tricks are the most commonly close up tricks that never fail to amaze. So while use of technology may have its perks, a magician is ultimately someone who does not entirely depend on his props for the act. It is unbelievable how magicians in ancient and prehistoric times learned to use cognitive manipulation, and physical phenomena to create mind blowing illusions. It only goes to show how entertainment magic and science are interconnected; while one uses the phenomena and the other studies it.

If you are planning a party, corporate event, trade show, or a wedding, and you are in need of some magic at your event then you have come to the right place. Kindly contact Fred Sharp online or at +971 (0)55 239 5882 for further details.

Back to Articles