Professor Blastoff Afterthoughts: Magic

My grandpa’s favorite magic trick was the “got your nose” gag. I never understood why he thought my nose looked like his thumb. I just thought he was going senile and didn’t want to make him feel crazy, so I played along. I feel like theme parks and haunted houses have taken the place of my grandpa’s silly gag. Just as with my grandpa’s trick, these places’ have good intentions but sometimes come off a bit over the top. Things causing me the most wonderment are usually executed with subtlety and confidence, like chess matches or nature. As a kid, I almost wish I had never seen so many animals at the zoo, so I could have my mind blown more as an adult. I love nature because it is glorious but doesn’t seem to call attention to itself, yet it overwhelms the senses.

Most magic tricks seem to use the art of miss direction. The best ones go a step beyond subtlety by guiding our attention and letting the magic take place in the background. Life is nature’s ultimate miss direction. The daily grind always seems to have our focus, until we decide to pause and allow ourselves to see what has been developing in the background. A magical noose otter kid perhaps?
He made his noose disappear in an earlier trick.

For the most part it is fun to be tricked. Most of us laugh when it happens. But it is a little jarring at the same time. You think you have life pretty much figured out until some guy comes along and successfully picks your card. There has been a lot of research into the brain and how it tricks us by filling in gaps in motion. This is why if you start a throwing motion but hold the object in your hand, you can trick someone into thinking you threw it. I did this to my dog while playing fetch all the time, until she bit my hand once she caught on to my deception.

Knowing that our eye’s can be deceived like that is an unsettling thought. Maybe in the future we will all walk around recording what we see so that we can play it back in slow motion when we get home, maybe then we can catch the subtle movements that our stupid brains missed.


Our guest, Derek Hughes, has done just that, although I still don’t know how to play clips in slow motion on YouTube. He has recoded a magic trick that will blow your mind. It uses 3 ropes, probably taken from the above otter’s missing noose.


Feel free to share any of your afterthoughts about this episode of Professor Blastoff. Or if there is anything that we left out that could go into a future episode leave a comment here or a tweet @airburple. Also check out our guest’s website at

If you haven’t yet listened to it, listen here to episode #41 Magic!