02 March 2018

Watch "The Science of Magic" on CBC’s "The Nature of Things" Sunday, March 18

Edited March 15th to add links to: 

Edited on March 7th to add:

Edited on March 6th to add:
  • Welcome GeniiOnline readers! Watch this space for updates about the show, including any announcements about international viewing opportunities.

Ever since it was first announced, we've been eagerly awaiting the air date of the Reel Time Images' CBC documentary on magic and science, featuring Julie Eng.

I'm delighted to announce that the show is scheduled to air on the CBC’s "The Nature of Things" on Sunday, March 18!

The show boasts an extraordinary list of participants, which include:  Julie Eng, Ronald Rensink, Jay Olson, Gustav Kuhn, Anthony Barnhart, Amory Danek, Matthew Tompkins, Thomas Strandberg, Billy Kidd, Tom Stone, Thomas Fraps, Pit Hartling, and Juan Tamariz.

I can hardly wait!

From “The Science of Magic” press release:
produced, directed and written by
Donna Zuckerbrot and Daniel Zuckerbrot

With magical guide Julie Eng
Toronto-based magicienne and executive director of Canada’s magical arts organization Magicana

World Broadcast Premiere on CBC’s The Nature of Things
Sunday, March 18, 2018 – 8PM (8:30 NT)

“The scientific community, I believe, can learn a lot about both the principles that magicians use as well the unique experience that magic elicits. By using new tools and scientific theory to understand why these principles work, scientists can really learn about the limits of human cognition.”

•             Gustav Kuhn, Cognitive Psychologist, Goldsmiths University of London

“Magicians and scientists both have learnt that it's our own mysterious consciousness that casts the spell, weaving reality from fleeting impressions. So, even when you don't know it, you are the magician.”

•             Julie Eng, Magicienne, Executive Director Magicana

Reel Time Images is pleased to announce the world broadcast premiere of their new documentary, The Science of Magic. Directed by Donna and Daniel Zuckerbrot, and with magical guide Julie Eng, Toronto-based magicienne and executive director of Canada’s magical arts organization Magicana, The Science of Magic can be seen on CBC’s The Nature of Things on Sunday, March 18, 2018 at 8PM (8:30 NT). The documentary will also be available to watch online at cbc.ca/natureofthings on Friday, March 16 from 5:00 pm EST.

Magic has become the latest investigative tool for scientists exploring human cognition, neurobiology, and behaviour.  Across Canada, the US and Europe, The Science of Magic follows researchers and scientists who are bringing magicians’ tricks into the laboratory.   This extraordinary exploration peeks behind the curtain into a fascinating world where ancient magic meets modern science.

Colourful, compelling and interactive, this film takes a critical and engaging look at the fascinating facts revealed when you see the human mind through the eyes of a magician.  With opportunities to participate in on-air magic tricks, viewers are able to feel the power of magic from the comfort of their homes and experience some of the psychological principles these tricks reveal (including ‘magicians choice’, and choice blindness”, 'failure to see’, ‘change blindness’, inattentional blindness, as well as the ‘aha’ moment).

Acting as guide for much of the evening, Julie Eng mystifies with her magical talents, using card tricks to show how magic can be used to explore human consciousness. Alongside these simple tricks are more elaborate scientific experiments.  Jay Olson, a performer of magic since his youth, is completing his PhD in psychiatry at McGill University in Montreal. There, Olson is one of the scientists spearheading a novel and powerful approach to experimental psychology.  At the Montreal Neurological Institute, we join him for an extraordinary demonstration involving an MRI machine that seems not only to read minds, but to also use its electro-magnetic fields to manipulate your most private thoughts.

Professor Ronald Rensink at the University of British Columbia discovered how small distractions can blind drivers to obvious dangers. He believes that magicians’ practical knowledge about how to fool the eye and the mind can fuel important new research in vision science and psychology in general.

In the US professor Anthony Barnhart, a magician turned scientist is using magic principles to investigate why we sometimes don’t see what’s right under our noses. We also meet Professor Amory Danek who is using the conjuror’s craft to study creativity and problem solving. 

In London England Gustav Kuhn conducts a study along with Canadian magician Billy Kidd, that tracks the eye movements of the magician’s audience. We see tricks that fool us despite nothing actually happening, as well as demonstrations that reveal we can be blind even to our own choices.

As surprising as many of these magic tricks are, the ultimate reveal, as Julie tells us just before she vanishes in front of our eyes, is that the true magician is our own brain — weaving reality out of fleeting impressions.


Julie Eng
Born in Victoria BC into a family of magicians, Julie Eng has been appearing on stage from an early age.  Julie has developed a refreshing and distinctive style which combines a mix of elegance, surprise and humour. Besides performing, she is currently the executive director of Canada’ magical arts organization, Magicana which is dedicated to the study, exploration and advancement of magic as a performing art.

Ronald Rensink
Professor Rensink grew up in Whitby, Ontario and has taught at the University of British Columbia (UBC) since 2000. An authority on vision in humans and machines, his seminal paper on “change blindness” has become one of the most cited papers in the field of cognitive psychology. His studies of perception and consciousness have led him to work with magicians. He believes that magicians’ practical knowledge about how to fool the eye and the mind, can fuel important new research in vision science and psychology in general.

Jay Olson
A performer of magic since his youth, Jay is currently completing his PhD in psychiatry at McGill University. Jay Olsen is looking at how magic, deception and suggestion can be used to create new methods in psychology. His studies show how magicians influence their audience and how people can be deceived into believing a machine is controlling their mind. His current work is on the potential use of machines as placebos.

Gustav Kuhn
Dr. Kuhn is a cognitive psychologist at Goldsmiths University of London. He went to England originally to perform magic and ended up staying and studying psychology. He is one of the founders of The Society of Magic Association (SOMA), and uses the methods of magic to study a range of questions about how we perceive and think about the world. His research focuses on magic, and explores how magicians allow people to experience the impossible.

Anthony Barnhart
Dr. Barnhart is a professor of psychology at Carthage College in Kenosha. Wisconsin. His many years as a magician inform his studies of how our attention is misled in daily life. His research explores the wealth of principles used by magicians, but still unknown to psychology.

Amory Danek
Dr. Danek is associated with the psychology department at the University of Heidelberg. Her research using magic (with the cooperation of magician Thomas Fraps) is focused on insight. Her current research is aimed at disentangling the various ways of thinking and feeling that together make up the “aha experience”. Another aspect of her research involving magic uses behavioural and neuroimaging experiments. This work is centred on identify brain regions that come into play when our expectations are violated (e.g. something mysteriously appears, disappears, or acts contrary to what normally happens).

Matthew Tompkins
Matt Tompkins a part-time professional magician since he was 14 is currently the Jr. Dean at the Queen’s College Oxford University where he is a doctoral student in the department of Experimental Psychology. He uses his knowledge of magical techniques to investigate the interplay between attention, illusions and beliefs.

Thomas Strandberg
Thomas Strandberg currently does research in the cognitive sciences at Sweden’s Lund University.He is affiliated with the Choice Blindness Laboratory. They use a variety of methods, including magicians’ tricks to study how our preferences, attitudes and choices change with the feedback we receive about them.

Billy Kidd
Billy Kidd has been an actor in theatre, film, and television since she was 11. Her career as a magician began when, after graduating from the University of Alberta’s theatre program, she happened to see a magician busking on the streets in Edmonton. Here fascination with magic and especially street magic eventually led to international TV appearances and performances all over the world.

Tom Stone
Tom Stone is the stage name of Swedish magician, editor and author Thomas Bengtsson. One of Scandinavia’s foremost magicians, he is rarely to be found at home in Stockholm, Sweden. He spends a great deal of time traveling the world performing and lecturing. His books on magic, and creativity are considered modern classics by many of his fellow magicians.

Thomas Fraps
A former student of physics, Thomas Fraps is an award-winning professional magician whose performances combine illusion, comedy and science. He has worked with a number of scientists including with Professor Amory Danek for whose experiments in problem solving he designed and performed a wide variety of magic tricks.

Pit Hartling
An extremely popular performer not only in his home of Germany but throughout the world. The author of two acclaimed books for magicians Hartling is as much in demand as a lecturer and teacher of magic as he is as an entertainer.

Juan Tamariz
Born in 1942 Juan Tamariz-Martel Negrón in  Madrid, Spain he is known professionally as Juan Tamariz or simply as Tamariz. He is regarded as a national treasure in Spain, and an international treasure by his fans around the world. Based on his encyclopediac knowledge, his skill and creativity Tamariz is recognized by most of the world’s magical greats as the greatest magician alive.

The Science of Magic is produced, directed and written by Donna Zuckerbrot and Daniel Zuckerbrot.  It is produced by Reel Time Images in association with CBC, with the Participation of the Canada Media Fund, the Canadian Film or Video Tax Credit, and the Ontario Tax Credit.

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