The Science Behind The World’s Most Convincing Ghost Effect

Magic is defined by secrecy. A magician never performs the same trick twice and never reveals how he or she performed it. Even if audience members say they want to know how a trick was done, they may wish they hadn’t once they learn the solution.


Why? Because the solution is rarely as impressive or as clever as the effect. The classic woman levitation trick, for instance, is accomplished via forklift behind a stage curtain. No matter how ingenious, solutions demystify. Take, for example, David Copperfield’s famous “flying” illusion, which was Nielsen ratings gold back in the 90’s.

The solution was revealed as a series of fanned cables by creator John Gaughan, who filed a US Patent in 1993. On one hand, one can appreciate the technical know-how to create such a dynamic effect. But at the end of the day, it’s just a set of wires. David Copperfield is more Cathy Rigby in Peter Pan than Harry Houdini.

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