Illusionology: when science seems magical
“People think they are watching a magic show reveal, where you see the science behind the tricks. It’s not that.
“What we did is take science – and things we all probably learnt at school – and make them more amazing. So it looks like real magic and people go, ‘Wow!’ So you are not learning how David Copperfield cuts people in half. You are not learning how we make tigers appear and disappear.
“It’s taking science and making it look like magic in a cool and unique way, which is why it is so different to anything else on TV.”
Inspired by Blaine and Penn and Teller, he says he prefers magic that is more light-hearted. In the second season, the guys have quite a few tricks up their sleeves.
He reveals: “There is the simple stuff. And then we had other things that were massively elaborate. One that springs to mind is the whole piece we did trying to read someone’s mind.
“Magicians, of course, have a whole way of psychology and suggestion to read someone’s mind. We found a device that you can plug on to someone’s head in a hat that genuinely reads their mind. We made them think of a colour and then put the device on their head and the monitor would tell us the colour they are thinking of. And we decided to test that.
“So we got one of our magicians to bungee jump with four different coloured ropes – with only one attached. He knew the colour that was not to be cut. We got the mach- ine to read his mind and tell us which ropes to cut. We dressed it up more theatrically.”
Other feats include one of them handcuffed and thrown into a tank of water and one where Hanlin was placed in a box and set on fire. “It wasn’t a fun day,” he laughs. Of course, viewers will have to tune in to find out more.
airs on Discovery Channel (DStv channel 121) on Wednesdays at 9pm. By the way, the fourth and final season of
also airs on the channel, also on Wednesdays, at 8.05pm. His guests this season include Coldplay, Sam Smith, One Direction and Bollywood star, Irrfan Khan.
JUST AN ILLUSION: Ben Hanlin uses science as the foundation for his magical feats in Discovery Channel’s second season of Magic of Science.