It’s the Friday Puzzle!

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First, we have just released this fun video about the psychology of yawning.  Hope you enjoy it.

So, to the puzzle. Please do NOT post your answer, but do say if you think you have solved the puzzle and how long it took. Solution on Monday.

A boy and a girl are chatting.

“I am a boy”, said the child with black hair.

“I am a girl”, said the child with white hair.

At least one of them lied. What colour hair does the boy have?

 

I have produced an ebook containing 101 of the previous Friday Puzzles! It is called PUZZLED and is available for the Kindle (UK here and USA here) and on the iBookstore (UK here in the USA here). You can try 101 of the puzzles for free here.

7 surprising facts about sleep and dreaming

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book2My new book on sleep and dreaming, Night School, is published today.  It has been 2 years in the making and so I am very excited to see it out there!  Based on research, mass-participation experiments and the world’s largest archive of dream reports, it reveals how to…

…get the best night’s sleep of your life
…discover what your dreams really mean
…learn information while you sleep
….banish jet-lag, nightmares and snoring

To give you a flavour of the material, here are 7 surprising facts about sleep and dreaming…

1) If you want to feel sleepy when you head to bed …
Banish the blues: Blue light from computer screen and smartphones keeps you awake.  Try turning down the screen brightness or wearing glasses with amber-tinted lenses for two to three hours before you go the bed.

2)  If you want to fall asleep quickly…
Use positive imagery and the paradox principle: First, imagine yourself in a very pleasant scenario. Make the scenario as detailed as possible, but avoid anything that’s too exciting, perhaps planning your dream holiday or thinking about your perfect evening out. If that doesn’t work, try to stay awake. Strange as it sounds, forcing yourself to actually remain awake is one of the best ways of nodding off.

3) If you lie in bed feeling worried …
The list: If you have a lot on your mind, make a list of all of the things that you have to do the next day. If you are worrying about something specific, jot that down too and try to allow the thought to drift through your mind, rather than focusing on it.

 4) If you wake up in the middle of the night …
The jigsaw method: You might be experiencing a perfectly natural phenomenon known as ‘segmented sleep’, where people sleep in two long blocks, with a gap of roughly thirty minutes between them. However, if you lie awake for more than twenty minutes, get up and do something non-stimulating for a few minutes, such as working on a jigsaw.

5) If you want to help overcome jet lag…..
Book flights following the simple adage, ‘Fly east, fly early. Fly west, fly late’.

 6) If you are experiencing a recurring nightmare, or bad dream …
Imagery rehearsal therapy: Spend some time during the day describing your nightmare, creating a different ending for the episode, and then imagining this new and improved ending. Studies show that this simple technique stops nightmares 90 per cent of the time.

 7) If you want to gain an insight into your concerns and worries …
Dream work:Describe a striking dream in detail, look for ways in which it applies to your life, and then use this as the basis for change. Research shows that around 80 per cent of people find that this yields an important insight into their concerns.

 I hope you enjoy Night School!  You can buy the book in the UK here and in the US here.

 

 

It’s the Friday Puzzle!

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cover Please do NOT post your answer, but do say if you think you have solved the puzzle and how long it took. Solution on Monday.

How many triangles are hidden in this image?

triangles

I have produced an ebook containing 101 of the previous Friday Puzzles! It is called PUZZLED and is available for the Kindle (UK here and USA here) and on the iBookstore (UK here in the USA here). You can try 101 of the puzzles for free here.

Tube of Mystery: Backstage

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A few days ago I put out this new Quirkology video.  If you haven’t seen it yet, take a look.

Hope you enjoyed that.  At the moment it has had about 1.2 million views.  Caroline Watt and I worked together on the piece, and I thought it might be interesting to take a look at some of the thinking behind it. So here we go…..

The initial shot

The first scene is designed to convince people that the painting is on the wall.  However, as is often the case in magic, if I explicitly said something to that effect, everyone would get suspicious.  Instead, it is simply implied.  I stand in front of the painting and cover just the edge of it with my shoulder. I then throw the tube up to catch your attention.  In doing so, the image of me in front of the painting (therefore showing that the painting is large and on the wall) make its way into peoples’ minds.

The illusion

This was a really tricky shot because the painting is obviously key to the illusion, but I have to make it look completely incidental to the scene.  This was achieved by creating a busy looking scene, containing patterned wallpaper, goats’ heads, a fireplace, etc..  Also, I need to justify the left hand edge of the painting being cut off.  This was achieved by making the entire shot look haphazard, including having a chair in shot and the whole thing being filmed on a jaunty angle.

The bottle 

My first thought was to produce a banana because they always feel unexpected and funny.  However, when I did a test shot the banana looked as though it could be made from sponge.  I tried unpeeling it straight after it had been produced, but that took a few seconds and distracted from the ‘wow’ moment.  In contrast the glass bottle immediately looks solid and so produced much more of an immediate impact.

I went around lots of shops and eventually found a mini-wine bottle that was 8 inches long.  Alas, the wine went right up under the seal and was very dark red, and so it didn’t look good on camera.  I poured away (kinda) most of the wine and diluted what was left.  The lightly coloured liquid can be seen in the neck of the bottle the moment it emerges from the tube, and you don’t get that ‘hold on, is that real?’ moment that might otherwise distract from the production.

The tube

My original thought was to use a long box, but an hour of quality time with a Jaffa Cake box revealed that the heavy bottle often rolled around in the box and made it really difficult to handle.  The tube was a much better because the bottle was naturally drawn to the bottom of it.

The painting

My original idea was to have the painting and frame be fake, but holding the tube against the frame looked really weird.  After a bit of playing around I had the idea of just replacing the inner part of the painting, and I think that is far more deceptive.  However, holding the tube against the fake painting whilst the bottle is loaded is REALLY difficult, and in take after take I knocked the painting.  In the end I misdirected people to the opposite end by producing the red ball.

The explanation

This was tricky because it soon becomes obvious what’s going on and we worried that people would quickly turn off.  To help keep people watching we introduced a miserable looking bear (played by the ever talented @CammehYaBams), who also gives an exaggerated expression to cover the dead time when I turn my back.

So there we have it.  It took about 2 weeks to refine the idea, about 6 hours to film, and about 40 takes.  Oh, and of course, at the most basic level, it works because the camera doesn’t have a stereoscopic view.

Hope you enjoyed finding out what went into it.

It’s the Friday Puzzle!

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cover Please do NOT post your answer, but do say if you think you have solved the puzzle and how long it took. Solution on Monday.

Create one side of an equation that uses the digit ’3′ five times to create the number 31.

I have produced an ebook containing 101 of the previous Friday Puzzles! It is called PUZZLED and is available for the Kindle (UK here and USA here) and on the iBookstore (UK here in the USA here). You can try 101 of the puzzles for free here.