I have teamed up with the good folks at Water Closet Press and created a Quirkology goat-based Halloween illusion, and here it is….
Head over to the Quirkology site to download the free PDF (click here).
For the past year I have been working with the good folks at Marvin’s Magic to create a Quirkology box of goodies. The exciting news is that today we are launching Mind Games at the QED conference and online everywhere.
The set is crammed full of jaw-dropping illusions, surprising science stunts, and bets that you will always win. And all with a quirky twist. Within a few moments of opening the box you will appear to move objects with the power of your mind, transform anyone into a zombie, defy gravity and lots lots more. The box contains everything you need to astound your friends and family, and even has a specially filmed Quirkology DVD. Have fun!
With huge thanks to Marvin’s Magic, Water Closet Press and QED.
A few days ago I visited the Joseph Jastrow archive at the David M. Rubenstein Library (Duke University, North Carolina).
Jastrow is one of my favourite psychologists, and I have frequently been inspired by his work. Born in 1863, he built America’s first psychology laboratory at the University of Wisconsin and investigated several intriguing topics, including dreams of the blind, optical illusions, and the psychology of magic. His work laid the foundations for modern-day psychology and two of his illusions – ‘Duck/Rabbit’ and ‘Boomerangs’ – still appear in most psychology textbooks. Jastrow was also passionate about popularizing science and regularly gave public lectures, wrote newspaper articles, and broadcast on the radio.
I visited the archive in the hope of learning something new about his life and work. The staff were very friendly, and kindly allowed me to look through all the great man’s letters, scrapbooks and photographs.
The letters provided a fascinating glimpse into Jastrow’s personal life. In one box I found a letter from Jastrow containing a light-hearted description of himself – ‘Will wear any kind of clothes and eat anything…Is a good deal of a nuisance but doesn’t mind being told so’. In another box I came across a small card tucked inside a diary. Jastrow had created a clever little joke about Hitler and typed it up – I suspect no-one had seen the joke for over 50 years.
And then I came across the final letter in the archive. At first, I didn’t understand what I was looking at. The letter was dated 1944, contained a short list of Jastrow’s possessions, and asked recipients if they were interested in any of the objects. ‘A wool coat’ (‘English worsted, navy blue’), ‘4 pairs of spectacles’ (‘Can any one use the rims?’), ‘a curious collection of hand-made collar pins’, ‘a signet ring’ (‘Unsentimental though I pretend to be, I should rather like to keep it’). And then the penny dropped. Jastrow had just died.
In life he investigated the dreams of Helen Keller, was a personal friend of Harry Houdini, and created a complex psychological profile of Adolf Hitler. In death Jastrow was reduced to a little pile of (mostly unwanted) things.
Feeling somewhat sad, I started to look through the photographs in the archive. Once again, it was the final item that caught my eye. Right at the back of the last box was a wonderful photograph of Jastrow sitting by a radio microphone. I have never seen the image before and I think this is the first time it has been made public. I love the photograph because Jastrow looks so relaxed, absorbed and happy. He is doing what he loved to do, and did so well. Sitting there resplendent in his spectacles, collar pin and signet ring.
The whole episode felt like a momento mori – a brief but striking reminder of the importance of enjoying life because soon we will all be reduced to a small pile of (mostly unwanted) things.
And that’s what I learned in the Jastrow archive.
Exciting news! My new book, ‘101 bets that you will always win‘ has just been published by BoxTree. It’s based on the Quirkology bets videos, and outlines endless ways to fool your friends and family. Not only that, but the book also explains the science behind many of the bets and even has a secret bet built into it! It’s hardback, gold embossed, has over 200 illustrations and usually retails at £9.99. However, for a short period of time Amazon has it for an amazing £3.99.
To celebrate the launch I have produced a new ’10 bets’ video. Hope that you enjoy it!
I have always been a huge fan of the Beuchet chair illusion. Created by psychologist Jean Beuchet in the 1960s, this wonderful illusion is used all over the world to make people appear to be tiny.
There is, however, one small problem from a practical perspective. The illusion involves building a large chair back and seat, and a carefully crafted chair base. When I was working on items for the Quirkology exhibition I wondered whether it might be possible to create a much simpler, and more portable, version of the illusion.
After endless trial and error I realised that the same effect could be created with a small cut out of a chair and a piece of cloth!
Here is my chair in action and a reveal showing the size of the chair. It took a huge amount of time to create just the right shape of chair, but the illusion works well, can be made for just a few pounds, and is ultra-portable.
And here I am using the illusion whilst being interviewed about the exhibition on STV news…
I have used it several times and if you want to re-create the piece for a project, feel free to get in touch!
Want to be levitated by David Copperfield, see one of the world’s greatest optical illusions, or be attacked by a giant monster?
Then head over to our new Quirkology exhibition at the Museum of Childhood in Edinburgh, Scotland. The exhibition allows visitors to experience the impossible, and features several unique items.
Master magician David Copperfield has invented an optical illusion in which he appears to levitate visitors, and has kindly allowed us to be the first exhibition in Britain to stage the piece.
In another first, famous Japanese illusion inventor Kokichi Sugihara has granted us special permission to exhibit his latest creation, ‘Rectangles and Circles’. This illusion is currently taking the Internet by storm, and shows several 3D rectangles that transform into circles when reflected in a mirror. The Quirkology exhibition is the only place in the world where visitors can experience Sugihara’s amazing creation live.
In addition, the exhibition features an
interactive video show, classic illusions, a goat that appears to follow visitors around the room, and fun photo opportunities for all ages.
The exhibition runs until 1 September 2016 at Edinburgh’s Museum of Childhood on the Royal Mile. Admission free. In addition to the exhibition, visitors can participate in a special Quirkology trail throughout the museum.
And the whole exhibition fits on a USB stick, which allows any science centre, museum or school to reproduce it!
Photo credits: Gordon Rutter, Kenny Mathieson, Richard Wiseman.
With thanks to: David Britland, David Copperfield, Kokichi Sugihara, Water Closet Press and Caroline Watt.
We have just filmed a new Quirkology video! It involves a miniature bear and a magic trick – enjoy….
Tonight we are staging a mass participation study to help people get a good nights sleep. It is free to join in, and we hope that lots of people will take part. All you have to do is click this link and follow the instructions…..
We have just released another Quirkology video containing 10 more optical illusions! Hope you like it….
I am delighted to announce my latest project! For decades magician David Berglas amazed the world with a series of seemingly impossible stunts.
David is now in his 90s, and I recently interviewed him about his early years. He experienced some of the most dramatic events of the twentieth century, including living in Germany during Hitler’s rise to power, attending the 1936 Berlin Olympics, and working as a postwar Nazi hunter.
I have produced a website containing his memories. I hope you like it.
To visit the site, click here.
Delighted to announce that I will be appearing at the 2016 Hidden Door Festival in Edinburgh! This wonderful arts festival features dozens of musicians, artists, poets and filmmakers.
On 1st June, I will be presenting an interactive show exploring magic, perception and illusion. Come along and discover the secret science employed by master magicians to make solid objects vanish into thin air, defy the laws of gravity and predict the future.
As part of this special evening you will experience the world’s greatest illusions, have your fortune read by Madam Zara (‘she sees nothing and says all’), and have an opportunity to perform the impossible.
Book your tickets here.
And here is a little video we made to promote the event
I have just created another Quirkology video, this time containing 10 amazing things that you can do with a piece of paper. Hope that you enjoy it!
Are you struggling to find the perfect Christmas gift? Struggle no more. After years of careful experimentation, we have created the world’s first mind reading tee shirt. And not only that, they are available for sale. Amazing. So, the links to buy them are here
These are available until the 9th December.
and the video showing this ground-breaking invention in action is here:
On Saturday I will be giving an intimate talk in London on ESP and other psychic stuff. It is being staged by The Margery Allingham Society because one of her books – The Mind Readers – is all about ESP. Do come along, much fun will be had and I shall be handing out free ESP cards to some lucky folks. Details on the poster below. The event is at 67 Church Street, London NW8 8EU
Hi there. We have just produced a new video containing 10 amazing bets that you will always win – hope that you enjoy it!