What you see is what you get

Human perception has been explained in many ways, from Decartes, through to the 'top-down' experiments of Richard Gregory, then J.J. Gibson's ecological 'bottom-up' model and a host of other theorists. Each clamours for our attention, attempting to explain the way we represent our version of reality inside our heads. The plain fact remains: What you see is what you get. You simply make your own interpretation of it, and believe what you want to believe. This is what allows illusionists and street 'magicians' such as David Blaine and Derren Brown to maintain their popular appeal.

Yesterday I took my second year teacher trainees over to our Virtual Immersion Cinema where for an hour they watched high resolution 3D images projected using a fish-eye lens onto the ceiling of the dome. There were a few inertia-sickness issues, but mercifully, there were no technicolour yawns. The wow factor was high though, and many were left afterwards with questions about how they could use such a facility to enhance the teaching of science, history, geography and other subject areas.

After this we went back to the classroom and I demonstrated the art of illusion using nothing more than a simple can of baked beans and my index finger. If you are sqeamish, don't watch this video. And please don't try this at home. You probably won't be insured.


Sigi said…
Hi Steve.... I tried to use my imagination... knowing that you used to play the guitar... I suppose you must be extemely flexible and fast to get yur finger under the table... but as students expected your finger not to have moved.. that's WYSIWYG ... great trick.. LOL how long did it take you to practice that...
pablohunny said…
I have no idea. I watched it again and paused at the crucial moment, but it looked like your finger was sticking out. I can only assume that either you are superhuman, or maybe if you bend your finger and flatten it just after impact then the single point of pressure on the can is enough to deform it? And once deformed it cannot then squish the flattened finger?

I'm a coward so I'm not testing my theory at home :D
Paul said…
Nice demonstration (note the use of the word demonstration, not trick and not illusion). I know from personal experience that this does work exactly as shown. I read about it in a book about survival over 40 years ago (when books were still made of paper) in the chapter that convinced you that you're tougher than you think. I and my siblings all bashed away merrily believing without question what we had read (I know, I know, but I didn't know about validating sources in those days). I can also confirm that it is painless... ...painless that is until someone tries it a second time with the same can. After the can is dented the first time it doesn't deform so easily and minor mashing can occur.

So DO try this at home exactly as shown, just don't use the can you got from the cheap dented tin pile in the supermarket (and also make sure that you don't try this on a glass topped or "best" dining room table as pocket money stoppage for a millennium can be an unforeseen consequence).

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