The New York Historical Society hosted An Evening with David Copperfield on Saturday June 16th where the world-renowned magician shared his thoughts on the history and purpose of magic and illusion. This special talk kicked off the museum’s new exhibit, Summer of Magic: Treasures from the David Copperfield Collection which features an array of magic artifacts including Harry Houdini’s straight jacket, Metamorphosis Trunk, and milk canister; amateur magic kits; posters and props from famous magicians’ acts; and Copperfield’s own Death Saw.
Why write about magic in a STEM newsletter? David Copperfield said one of the jobs of magic is to think of the impossible and somehow make it real. Magic is things that people can’t explain yet. He believes magic has been a driving example of what is tomorrow’s technology.
He described an incredible feat from the 1800s – a magician dramatically waved his hand in front of a door and inexplicably, the door opened! He said now that happens every time anyone walks in front of the automatic door at the grocery store, airport, or just about anywhere, but 100 years ago that was truly magical.
Even today’s blockbuster movies owe a debt to magicians. Magicians made the first movies like the iconic A Trip to the Moon. In fact, that movie’s creator, Georges Méliès, was an illusionist who developed motion picture technology as a form of magic trick. Copperfield’s discussion had the entire audience wonder which of today’s fantastic magic acts will be common place technology in the future?