In his book Fooling Houdini: Magicians, Mentalists, Math Geeks, and the Hidden Powers of the Mind (reviewed here), Alex Stone starts by recounting his tragically humiliating disqualification at an international magic competition. So ashamed was he by the unceremonious ejection from the stage that he gave up magic and pursued a post-grad degree in physics. Eventually the lure of the conjuring arts called him back, but this time around, Stone got serious. He sought mentors, practiced incessantly, researched magic history, and read up on the psychology of deception and the limits of human perception.
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Mark Frauenfelder is the founder of Boing Boing and the editor-in-chief of MAKE and Cool Tools. Twitter: @frauenfelder. His new book is Maker Dad: Lunch Box Guitars, Antigravity Jars, and 22 Other Incredibly Cool Father-Daughter DIY Projects