Magic has always fascinated us. From our childhood we cherish a thing for magic. How much we longed to learn magic tricks and show it to our friends and see their surprised faces. From David Copperfield To our favorite Dynamo, magicians have been astounding us with their awesome magical performances for years. But how do they perform such seemingly impossible feats? Are they born special with unimaginable powers?
Sadly no, there are humans just like you and me. Think for a second, if they had actually been doing these tricks wouldn’t they be right now strapped to chairs in Area 51, while rocket scientists from all over the world poked and pinched them! Magic is actually illusion. Illusions that make us believe in the unbelievable.
Magicians know how to confuse and fool our eyes and brains to create magnificent illusions. They make us believe in something when the exact opposite is happening. But then how do they perform such amazing feats? Let’s uncover the truth from some of the most popular magic tricks ever performed.
6. Rabbit From Hat
Whenever we think of a magician or a magic trick, the first thing that comes to our mind is probably the “rabbit out of a hat” trick. Considered as the most clichéd magic trick, this deception can be done in a variety of ways. The easiest way is the one in which the hat is kept on a table, and both the props are rigged.
So when the magician puts his hand inside the hat it goes straight through it into a hidden compartment in which the rabbit is sitting quietly, and then is taken out to generous applause. In yet another method the rabbit is hidden away in the sleeve of the magician and is taken out at the right time by sleight of hand. There’s another method which is quite questionable but is used anyway.
In this method the performer coats the rabbit with black powder or charcoal and hides it inside the hat with its eyes closed. He then shows the audience an apparently empty hat. After this with sleight of hand he brushes the rabbit of the dirt and takes it out of the hat.
Now the most difficult part in this trick is to train the rabbit to remain quit or in the other case keep its eyes close. Many embarrassing situations have happened because of an untrained partner.
5. The Levitating Man
Ever wonder how those Street Performers levitate on their sticks? Sorry to break it to you but they is no freaky mind power or telekinetic abilities going on here. It’s just plain old physics and a little bit of skullduggery.
Here’s how you do it. One end of the tube is attached to a steel plate on the ground usually hidden by a carpet. The other end is held by the performer and has a tube going all the way around him, from his sleeve to another steel platform on which he sits. These are all hidden by clothes like cloaks, ponchos, you get the idea.
All this creates an Illusion that the person is levitating, when actually he is just sitting in a modified chair trying not to laugh at all those surprised faces. Still don’t get it. Watch the video given below.
4. Walking Over Water
Most of us must have seen the cool illusion of walking over water by street magician Criss Angels. Or the famous Dynamo walking over the river Thames. Well Sorry to let you down folks but this one is also a bummer. The answer is Plexiglas.
He is walking on a thin platform of Plexiglas hidden just beneath the surface. Now Plexiglas has a refractive index close to water which means that if placed at certain depth it would be almost impossible to detect. Narrow enough for the performer to walk on and others (actors) to swim around him, or in Dynamo’s case Police boats to circle him.
Plexiglas is transparent enough to go unnoticed or be edited using CGI. Also this Plexiglas is divided into steps just like a ladder, so that the other swimmers can swim right in front of him reinforcing the illusion.
3. Sword Swallowing
The art of sword swallowing originated about 4000 years ago in India. From there it spread to China, Greece, Rome and eventually the rest of the world. Interesting thing about this Art is that it is the only thing in this list that doesn’t involve any kind of illusion. It is real and extremely dangerous.
Now there are two types of sword swallowers, the fake ones and the real ones. The fake ones use a fake sword (called gaff) that curls or folds upon entering their esophagus (food pipe). And then there are the real ones. It is said that only 1 out of 250 million people can swallow a sword perfectly. So how is it done? Practice. And an amazing control over your Upper gastrointestinal tract (GI Tract).
The GI tract is the collective name for our throat, esophagus and the stomach. The most important thing here is to relax the GI tract and to control your gag reflex or you could be in very, very, very serious trouble.
Only after years of practice with non-lethal objects do sword swallowers move to real swords. These guys also have an international association, The Sword Swallowers Association International (SSAI), who also proclaimed 28th February as the “International Sword Swallowers Day!”
2. Bullet Catch
Bullet catch is no doubt the most dangerous trick on this list. This fatal trick in which a marked bullet is fired at the performer who catches it between his teeth, hands etc., has killed twelve magicians and injured many more till date. There are many different methods in which this trick is performed.
The simplest is that the gun fires a blank and the glass that is kept in front of the gun to authenticate that the shot has been fired is broken using miniature explosives unseen by the audience. The performer than just produces a bullet already kept in his mouth. Another method in which the gun is loaded in front of the audience the bullet used is actually made up of wax which when fired effectively breaks the glass but does not harm the magician.
The performances in which the bulled is marked or signed is done just to create a dramatic effect and usually the person who makes the mark or sign is a stooge (actor) and the magician have the same marked bullet already with him or the stooge just passes it to him right there through sleight of hand without anyone noticing.
The most dangerous method responsible for all those death is the one in which a real loaded gun is used and the person shooting just has to miss his target. But sometimes everything doesn’t go as planned. Due to the high death toll this method has since been abandoned and is no longer used.
1. Sawing In Half
Probably the most popular trick in this list. After so many years this trick still amazes people. In this illusion a person is made to lie in a box which is then sawed in half. And miraculously both the body parts are still alive and moving. Then the magician joins both the boxes and surprises the people when the person who was just sawed in half returns fully formed, healthy with all his body parts intact. But how is this done?
Through the help of specially made boxes and contortionist (people who can stretch and contour their bodies into impossibly small spaces). The box is made in such a way that it is perceived as a medium-sized box when actually it is a lot bigger. This helps the contortionist to contour his body into the upper part of the box. While the lower legs are mostly dummy.
But sometimes there is another contortionist in the lower part also to make the illusion more realistic. Sometimes in extreme tricks involving transparent boxes, the artist uses people with their lower body missing. Also a little editing using CGI doesn’t hurt anyone.
So there you have it friends. Some of the best magic tricks and there secrets revealed.