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Secrets unveiled through knowledge of physics

Belarusian scientists unsurprised by American illusionist David Blaine
By Darya Ilyina

The do-or-die stunt on a New York pier saw illusionist David Blaine standing on a specially installed platform, within a coil filled with seven artificial lightning bolts: each contained a million volts of electricity. Wearing a chain-mail outfit and a mesh helmet, he easily dispersed the bolts with his hands, while talking to the audience.

The Electrified: One Million Volts was viewable online live, fulfilling Mr. Blaine’s hope to inspire schoolchildren to study physics. “The secret of this trick is understandable to all those aware of Faraday’s cage,” explains Doctor of Physics and Mathematics, Yevgeny Tolkachev. “This device was invented by physicist and chemist Michel Faraday in 1836, to protect against external electro-magnetic fields.  The external static electrical field of the cage causes electric charges to redistribute themselves, cancelling the field’s effects in the cage’s interior: there is no electric field inside the cage.” However, Mr. Tolkachev views the stunt as slightly hazardous, since alternating currents can penetrate the body. Saying this, we open ourselves to the same risk when travelling by trolley bus, using our mobile phone or sitting in a room containing numerous electric wires.

Mr. Tolkachev is the Deputy Chairman of a working group assessing innovative proposals received by the Belarusian National Academy of Sciences. He admires the American illusionist not only for his advertising of physics but for helping refute false scientific theories. Several years ago, one stated that gravity was of electrical origin. If he had been correct, anyone within the Faraday cage would have flown.
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