The Magic of Rubik's Cubes

The Magic of Rubik's Cubes

Happy Valentine's Day everybody! Here's a quick magic video with the Rubik's Cube to start off your Valentine's Day.

Erno Rubik's invention of 43 years ago continues to inspire and taunt millions. In fact the Hungarian government has unveiled plans to build a Rubik’s Cube museum.

The world record holder for a human being is currently 4.73 seconds, achieved by Feliks Zembegs of Australia in Mebourne in 2016. Feliks beat Mats Valk of the Netherlands by .01 seconds! Check out the video:

But of course a robot can do it much faster. Chipmaker Infineon created a robot that holds the world record for a non-life-form. Here it is solving the cube in 0.637 seconds:

And here’s a way to spend 7.5 hours (if you know what you’re doing). A 17x17 solve:

The undisputed king of Rubik’s Cube magic is Steven Brundage who baffles every single magician including yours truly. Steven burst on the scene when he got out of a speeding ticket by cubing for the officers that pulled him over. Here he is fooling Penn and Teller. Honestly, no idea ...

But for my money, it doesn’t get more impressive than solving three Rubik’s Cubes while juggling them:

Until next time, happy solving!


Supermarket Illusions

Supermarket Illusions

I thought I would muse on some of the daily illusions you encounter at the supermarket. Grocery stores are experts in studying human behavior, and the little adjustments they make have a long-term effect on sales.

Some supermarkets are organized so that the goods they want you to purchase are on the right side of the aisle, so that you reach for them with your dominant hand (for most people). We tend to look to the right and generally favor the right side, which is why many entire stores are designed to cater to this tendency. Next time you find yourself involuntarily turning right as you walk in, and circling through the store on the right, think about how we drive on the right side of the road.

Aisle placement is key: the premium expensive goods are usually at eye-level. Bulk food tends to be at the bottom of the shelf. And then there’s the “kid-level” – eye-popping, colorful, sugary food that can easily be spotted by your excited ten-year old. There’s some debate about this, but many stores place the goods they want you to purchase at the end of the aisles where they will more easily be noticed. (Economist)

Where are the dairy products and other staples? They’re in the back of the store, beyond the myriad products you have to walk through first. Ever notice that the pharmacy is in the back of your local drugstore? Same idea. Supermarket owners are hoping that as you make your way towards that carton of milk, you’ll drop countless other products into your shopping cart.



And let’s talk about that invention of 1937. How better to get shoppers to purchase more than to give them a mobile, high-capacity cart? Oklahoman Sylvan Goldman created the “folding basket carrier” to make shopping easier and encourage customers to buy more. Goldman and his brother owned half of the Piggly Wiggly’s in Oklahoma City.

All of these tricks fall under the umbrella of the “illusion of free choice,” one of a magician’s most closely guarded secrets. The principle is such that if you are given the ability to choose, you believe you have complete control over the situation (or trick). Sure, no one is coercing you to put those cinnamon buns in your basket, but are you really navigating through the grocery store without influence?

Happy solving!


Behind the scenes of the "Deception" pilot

Behind the scenes of the "Deception" pilot

Dear Prestidigitators and Puzzlers,

This is my inaugural blog post on all things in my crazy world of magic, puzzles, and games.

I thought I would kick things off with a post about “Deception,” a procedural that Chris Fedak, Greg Berlanti, Martin Gero, and I are creating for ABC. We’ve just received some exciting news that ABC has ordered the pilot and we will commence shooting in March.

How does a show like this come about? Well, from my perspective, it takes ten years. Ever since I moved to Hollywood, I've always wanted to do a “magician and the police” project. It’s such a rich universe and we haven’t seen it since Bill Bixby was “The Magician” from 1973-1974 (see above photo). But it takes the right recipe of people, and the moment Greg suggested a show called “Deception,” I knew he was on to something.

Greg and Martin had such great instincts for the shape of our lead magician. And it was a no-brainer to have Chris Fedak (“Chuck,” “Forever”) create the show (Chris co-showruns Greg’s “Legends of Tomorrow”). Chris has been absolutely masterful in creating the characters and penning an engaging and action-packed story.

Pitching the show last fall to the networks was one of the most intense and fun weeks of my career. Our team carefully scripted a pitch that worked in concert with a mentalism trick. A number of words Chris said in his story, the book Martin had on the table in front of him, the photograph Greg was holding, all primed the network executives for a surprise reveal at the end of the pitch. Magic in the boardroom!

Since then I’ve collaborated with Chris on creating magic for the show. We want the actors actually performing real sleight of hand and illusions. As much as we can do “in camera” magic the better. But the heavy lifting has been in designing action set pieces that revolve around the principles of illusion. Our goal is to get the home audience learning “how a magician thinks.”

We’re already in intense prep for the pilot now. With David Nutter (“Game of Thrones,” “The Flash” and “Arrow”) directing, we’re looking forward to a wild ride.  Casting is just underway … more updates as I have them!

Happy Solving!