the Art of Illusion
Learning about and performing magic has been a hobby of mine for the last 15 years. Initially I was just interested in the tricks behind the illusions, but over the years I have become more interested in the neurology and psychology underlying people's perception of magic.
Designed and Taught Course:
Magic and Scientific Thinking: how insights from magicians can broaden our thinking about problems/questions in the sciences.
At first glance magic and science are complete opposites. But when one looks closer there are many similarities between the modern magician and the modern scientist and even more similarities between magic illusions and natural phenomena.
Clarke's Third Law: Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.
Niven's Law: Any sufficiently advanced magic is indistinguishable from technology.
Agatha Heterodyne (Girl Genius) Paraphrase of Niven's Law: Any sufficiently analyzed magic is indistinguishable from science!
Arguably, many of the most interesting discoveries in science come from interdisciplinary approaches. This is because when we look at a problem from a new/different perspective we can frequently discover things that where hidden from us if we only looked at a problem from one angle. In this course we not only draw attention to some parallels between tools magicians use and nature but also to how thinking like a magician can help us be better scientists.
In the course we explore the limits of human cognition and attention and see how magicians use these to fool us into thinking that they can bend spoons with the power of their minds or that a chosen card can travel through a deck to reveal itself. We discuss how superstition and preconceived notions work to the benefit of a magician but to the detriment of a scientist. We look at how magicians imitate nature by looking at how appearing silks and flashes of fire are using the same principles that a stick-insect or an antelope uses to avoid predators. And we think about how the thought process to developing a new illusion is analogous to how scientists try to understand molecular pathways and other natural processes.
Member of the HMS (Harvard Magic Society)
In 2011 we performed at:
-the Harvard 375th Anniversary Celebration
-the Cambridge Rehabilitation and Nursing Center Thanksgiving Party
-and at the Harvard China Care's annual Children's Day Carnival.