Blogs  About the SA Blog NetworkChoose a blog….A Blog Around The ClockAnecdotes from the Archive@ScientificAmericanBrainwavesBudding ScientistThe SA IncubatorThe Network CentralObservationsOctopus ChroniclesSolar at HomeStreams of ConsciousnessAnthropology in PracticeThe Artful AmoebaAssignment: ImpossibleBasic SpaceBering in MindCocktail Party PhysicsCompound EyeContext and VariationCreatologyCross-CheckCulturing ScienceDegrees of FreedomDoing Good ScienceEvoEcoLabExpeditionsExtinction CountdownGuest BlogHistory of GeologyInformation CultureLab RatLife, UnboundedLiterally PsychedMolecules to MedicineThe OcelloidOscillatorPlugged InThe Primate DiariesPsiVidRosetta StonesThe Scicurious BrainScience SushiScience with MoxieSymbiarticTetrapod ZoologyThe Thoughtful AnimalThoughtomicsUnofficial PrognosisThe Urban ScientistThe White Noise   


Observations

Observations


Opinion, arguments & analyses from the editors of Scientific American

Observations HomeAboutContact

Magic and science: Together again at last

By Eric R. Olson | October 28, 2010 |  Comments7
ShareShare  ShareEmail  PrintPrint


Not since the ancient days of alchemy have science and magic had such a harmonious relationship. Of course, I’m speaking specifically about neuroscience and the art of illusion—not the fictional conjuring of the Harry Potter variety.

“Most of the cognitive illusions out there have been created by magicians. So we can really benefit a lot by using their insights and learning their techniques to accelerate discovery in cognitive neuroscience,” says Susana Martinez-Conde, a neuroscientist with the Barrow Neurological Institute in Phoenix.

Martinez-Conde, along with her husband and fellow scientist Stephen Macknik are the subject of our recent video on the neuroscience of magic (see below). Joined by master pickpocket Apollo Robbins (who is not really a criminal, of course; he calls himself a “gentleman thief”), the trio gives us a new perspective on how the brain works as we watch the tricks and manipulations of the magician.

An article from Macknik and Martinez-Conde on the same topic appears in the November/December issue of Scientific American Mind.

Go to really interesting video linked on preceding line.