How magicians use science to deceive


A TV commercial posted online shows an English magician named Dynamo apparently levitating off the side of one of London's iconic double-decker buses, as amazed onlookers gape, point, and, because this is 2013, shoot photos and video with their phones. He then slides off the bus, produces a can of Pepsi Max, opens it, and takes a sip.

It was posted on Monday, and by Thursday afternoon, it already had more than 2.3 million views. Have a look at the video at the top of this page, if you haven't done so already.

"If you can just take a moment to look at things from a new perspective," says Dynamo in his gentle Yorkshire accent, "you might see the world in a whole new light." 

So how did Dynamo do it? Here, we reveal his secret: He had the soda can in his pocket the whole time. 

OK, we're not going to say how Dynamo floated alongside the bus: Exposing the secrets of individual magicians serves only to diminish the entertainment. (It can also ruin their livelihoods, and why would we want to do that?) 

So instead, we'll just give away how every magician everywhere performs every illusion. And we'll share some cognitive psychology with you along the way.

At the heart of every illusion is misdirection, the manipulation of the audience's attention.  

Written By: Eoin O’Carroll
continue to source article at


  1. Look mum no hands.
    I am guessing it’s not his arm holding on to the bus but a fake arm. Leaving his spare arm free to emitt the necessary jets to keep him a float.
    Not sure how he managed to descend without falling to the ground, they changed the camera angle so we will never know. If only they hadn’t changed the camera angle, what rotten luck.

  2. Well it doesn’t really show him getting up or getting down. I assume it’s the metal pole up the arm attachment trick used in similar seated ‘levitations’. It is an advertising stunt after all!

  3. In reply to #2 by finchfinder:

    Well it doesn’t really show him getting up or getting down. I assume it’s the metal pole up the arm attachment trick used in similar seated ‘levitations’. It is an advertising stunt after all!

    Most magicians are totally honourable people, and they dislike charlatans who use their skills to claim occult powers. Harry Houdini spent a good deal of his life exposing fraudulent mediums. Geller the spoon bender agreed to a trial by the New Scientist, until he found that along with many scientists there was going to be a professional magician on the panel. Their professional code of omerta does not extend to those who use their skills for fraudulent purposes.

  4. Read the current Oldie magazine. There’s a totally credulous article about psychic spoon bending, ghosts and other paranormal rubbish. Geller’s cutlery tricks seem to have done more than most to confuse and confound those steeped in the magic of superstitious claptrap.

  5. “Zerstreutheit” means absent-mindedness rather than distraction. “Zerstreutheitsmeister” is not a german word. I wish, journalists would learn how to use a computer. Translations are just a few mouse clicks away.
    Where are all the passers-by videos?

  6. Whenever someone decides to believe that someone could levitate, I have a standard response. I explain two different scenarios where levitation would be worth millions and millions of dollars and/or human lives.

    The first scenario would involve playing wide receiver on an american football team. Can you visualize it? Tom Brady fades back, he throws the football as high up as possible. It is uncatchable!! No, wait! The receiver levitates!!! He rises 25 yards above every one else! TOUCHDOWN!! BTW if a receiver catches 23 touchdowns in 16 games, he is destined for the hall of fame. This is worth millions and millions of dollars. Ostensibly, the receiver would be able to score an unlimited number of times.

    The second scenario involves land mines, explosive devices, roadside bonds….etc… If soldiers did not have to WALK on the ground, they wouldn’t trip these explosives and many many lives would change.

    So this levitation bullshit can earn you a brief sensation on you tube OR millions of dollars OR soldiers lives saved. Yes, that’s right, you tube is the clear winner.

  7. I don’t get it. Why can’t people just chill and enjoy?
    I am all for debunking and severing irrational beliefs. But this (even if sponsored) is just fun. Bringing an unexpected smile and wtf blinking red in peoples’ minds on the street is pretty sweet, I think.

    How it’s done and even if it is only for the dough is irrelevant. Were it Derren Brown, everybody here would revel about it. And I truly love Derren’s work. This guy is pretty cool as well.

    Looking at things “from a new perspective” is even better.

  8. dom d miller
    Who here isn’t chilling and enjoying.
    What I find most interesting is his accent. Not a soft yorkshire but a wonderfull new asian Yorkshire accent which is now native of yorkshire.

  9. In reply to #10 by jjbircham:

    Well, you tell me. So far I see no ‘that was nice’. All I see is brainstorming on the idea of magicians.

    I don’t disagree with what is being said so far, quite the contrary, but I mean, this is just some dude doing some street-magic for fun.

  10. Looks like it is superimposed. There is a little ‘gribbling’ near the feet in one or two frame sequences. The crowd could have been taking pics of anything – we never see the two aspects related.

  11. “Most magicians are totally honourable people, and they dislike charlatans who use their skills to claim occult powers.” (Kevin Murrell)

    Really? They’re not, actually. Having met a few magicians, I understand they will do whatever it is they need to do to deceive the general audience, including having “plants” (confederates) in the audience. If you are fooled by it, then they are doing their job.

    And I don’t know where the “occult powers” reference comes in here, but….anyway!

    What this article failed to do, by the way, was explain just how “magicians use science to deceive.” To be frank, magicians use engineering far more than I’d say they use science. (Myself being an engineer who has been approached in the past by magicians looking to perform similar acts)

    They also–where they can–use camera tricks. This advertisement has some pretty lame cut-aways when the magician is “levitating” up and down on to (and off of) the bus. There’s no “magic” there, there are just multiple shots, cut together. If the set-up takes them 30 minutes, and the bus drives around for another 30 minutes…do you think that they’ll have enough footage to piece together 3 minutes of amazed-looking faces?

    This whole advertisement uses camera-tricks at the beginning and end, and (most likely) a false arm and/or reinforced harness for the middle. If you look carefully at the performer’s chest, you can see the outline of a brace.

    Oh, and whatever they were trying to sell? Drink tap-water, instead.

  12. In reply to #14 by finchfinder:

    Fun? It’s an advert! It’s a con! It’s for MONEY MONEY MONEY!

    It’s not a con-trick. It’s to create positive associations with a brand. Arguably that’s even more insidious, but I don’t think it detracts from the performance as such. It’s just how things work under the current system. I don’t think he’d have got far with Kickstarter.

    It’s not the main point of the article, either. That’s misdirect… hey, waitaminute!

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.