Scientists lay bare magic secret

By | September 29, 2009

Paul DanielsScientists have revealed one of magic’s most closely guarded secrets – how a magician makes things disappear.

Researchers from Edinburgh University said illusions happen when blind spots prevent us from seeing change before our eyes.

When our eyes shift focus for just a few milliseconds, it is enough for us to lose our sight.

This is too short for us to notice, but long enough to miss changes in visual scenes.

The research team carried out experiments in which people looking at pictures often failed to detect deliberate alterations, such as objects becoming bigger or disappearing.

Prof John Henderson of the School of Philosophy, Psychology and Language Sciences said:  “We think our eyes show us the world in sharp detail all the time, but in fact this is not the case.

“Our studies show that our eyes do, in fact, miss a great deal.

“Our research gives us insight into how people see the world and ultimately how the brain processes information.”

– via bbc

4 thoughts on “Scientists lay bare magic secret

  1. Cole

    But if we applied this to magic tricks, there’s a big problem: how does the magician move the object fast enough for the change not to be noticed? Unless it means that the magician would distract them. But then surely a few people would notice.

    1. Xeno

      This is interesting. If you can make someone’s eyes lose focus, and you can move your hands fast enough you could take something away in the environment and it would seem to them that the object has vanished. I saw Criss Angel and thought it was all done with trap doors.

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