Saturday Morning Science Experiment: Science Party Tricks

Magician/Psychologist Richard Wiseman shows you how to perform 10 (count 'em) science-based stunts. You now have no excuse for awkward pauses in conversation this holiday season. Entertain your coworkers! Shark money off your uncles! Impress members of whatever sex you wish! All with the help of science.

Thumbnail image courtesy Flickr user srqpix, via CC

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  1. When I was much younger (last week or so), I used to make the balancing forks and leave them teetering on the edge of my glass after eating out. A calling card, if you will (that, and putting change in a glass of water, holding the menu over it tight, inverting it and removing said menu. It’s a wonder some diners ever let me back in).

    1. Take it from a waiter– you only got let back in because they enjoyed spitting in your food. Or quite possibly, adding far worse bodily fluids.

      THAT’S science fun!

  2. Hmmm…. I have no problem moving my ring finger off the table with my middle finger tucked under, and I don’t change the direction of rotation of my foot when drawing a number six in the air. I must be wired strangely.

    I like the matchbox and coin one, that’s very clever.

    1. Just curious, have you ever played the piano or any other instrument that requires the ring finger? Typically people who play have more control of it.

  3. @VagabondAstronomer
    If you balance the forks on a glass you can light the end of the toothpick that over hangs into the glass on fire and it will burn all the way up to the glass and go out leaving the forks balanced on just the edge of the glass.

  4. When I was much younger (last week or so), I used to order a bowl of grits or mashed potatoes, you see. I would then drop trou and violently flatulate in the bowl before leaving the restaurant. A calling card, if you will (that, and stripping nude and running across the parking lot screaming, “Jimmy Dean’s alive! Alive! Alive!” It’s a wonder some diners ever let me back in).

  5. Of all my books and toys that my parents kept I haven’t been able to find these two books.
    Bet You Can and Bet you Can’t.
    They were filled with stuff like this. Based on Amazon prices, I should spend some more time looking in the `rents garage.

  6. I can do the finger one as well, but only with my right hand. Of course, on my right hand my pinky and ring finger are linked and move together. Wondering how that occurs and why its wrong =)

  7. The finger thing works depending on the amount of fine muscle movements you will normally be performing. The tendons of extensor digitorum are connected to some extent, however someone who plays piano (for example) has developed the control to lift their fingers separately. Some of it is physiological, that is, how strongly the tendons are connected, but moreso it is behavioral in that you will likely be able to do it if you have a great deal of dexterity. That works even better though, more of a “Hah, I can do this and you can’t.”

  8. I also found it easy to move my ring (annular) finger independently when my middle (medio) finger is folded under. I am a guitarist and have spent many hours moving them independently.

  9. OH! Okay, for a minute I thought I was watching this vid directly off youtube and was disconcerted at how well crafted some of these responses were (complete sentences and EVERYTHING!).

    I thought the internet was coming an end. Never mind– move along, people.

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