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Physics and science of contortion/flexibility/magic tricks

  1. Oct 10, 2005 #1
    I am curious about the physics and science of contortion. However, I cannot figure it out. Can someone please help me out with the science and physics of contortion/flexibility? Also, what are the physics of magic tricks?
     
  2. jcsd
  3. Oct 10, 2005 #2

    arildno

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    Could you be more precise?
    Remember, magicians are adepts in making you believe something you see something you didn't see. There are no new physical principles involved in magic tricks than those governing our everyday lives.
     
  4. Oct 10, 2005 #3
    I know there are no new principles in magic. I am not dumb. What I want is the physical laws governing magic. Not only the physics, but the science, meaning other sciences like chemistry if nessesary.

    Also, I meant contortion as in gymnastic contortion.
     
  5. Oct 10, 2005 #4

    arildno

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    That depends on what magic you want to have explained.
    Some card tricks, for example, is done by hiding cards up in your sleeve or elsewhere.
    You might call the fact that you cannot see a card that is hidden from view a physical law governing those card tricks.

    So again, be precise about what particular tricks you want to know the physics of.
     
  6. Oct 10, 2005 #5
    Sure, but it's the contortion I really want to know about. Could you explain it to me?
     
  7. Oct 10, 2005 #6

    russ_watters

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    Contortionists just have weak ligaments, which makes them more flexible than average. You're not supposed to be able to pop your shoulder out of its socket.

    For magic, all magic tricks are different, and many have very little to do with physics, so you'll have to be more specific. For example, card tricks are usually just feats of dexterity and/or misdirection. Not a lot of physics there. Pulling a rabbit out of a hat is generally a false-bottom. Again, no physics going on there.
     
  8. Oct 10, 2005 #7

    arildno

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    As in guys getting out of ropes and such?

    Or guys who can press and twist themselves into a small box?

    If "contortion" has a specific, technical sense, rather than just denoting a twisting of the body you wouldn't believe was possible, then please provide an example.
     
  9. Oct 10, 2005 #8

    Doesn't matter, but the second example would be better.
     
  10. Oct 10, 2005 #9

    arildno

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    As russ have said, some guys have a lot looser joints than ordinary folks, and can, for example, place their legs around their heads.
     
  11. Oct 10, 2005 #10
    Okay, I not only said physics, but science of these things, like chemistry and biology.

    What I meant by physics of contortion, I meant things like solid elasticity, hooke's law, and other mechanical properties. If that applies.
     
  12. Oct 10, 2005 #11
    Sounds like you just need a good physics textbook
     
  13. Oct 10, 2005 #12

    russ_watters

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    Putting yourself into a small box requires good flexibility. Getting out of a straightjacket or getting your body through a tennis racket (saw that once) requires an unusually narrow upper body and popping a shoulder out of its socket.

    Oh, and though I said ligaments, it would require loose tendons as well. Mostly, loose tendons is just good flexibility, though.

    Applying physics to that would be a stretch (pun intended) - are you trying to do this for a project/paper?
     
  14. Oct 10, 2005 #13
    I am doing a paper on it.
     
  15. Oct 10, 2005 #14

    Danger

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  16. Oct 10, 2005 #15

    arildno

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    Have you considered asking any contortion artists for your paper?
     
  17. Oct 18, 2005 #16
    Sorry I didn't answer so soon. I live in a small town and having checked for contortinists, there are none at where I live.
     
  18. Oct 17, 2008 #17
  19. Feb 11, 2011 #18
    Hey
    I see you have a question about contortion and since no one could clearly explain it to you,I'd love to.I am a contortionist and I've been training myself for about six months with a few gymnastics lessons.Contortion is a very difficult performing art often in circuses,on tv,and other types of media or publicity.Many people see contortionists and watch in awe not knowing,they could be contortionists too!:]Although some contortionists can dislocate certain body parts it is not necessary,however it attributes to their flexibility.People who train to be contortionists sometimes start to be able to dislocate their joints from all the stretching,I can dislocate my hips,this does provide problems for me though,sometimes my hips "give out" because the joints are so loosened.There are two types on contortionists;front benders and back benders.Although you need great flexibility in your back for front bending,the area you stretch is your legs.Back bending on the other hand requires a great deal of flexibility in your spine and back.They say it is rare to be capable of both front and back bending but I can do both,and I haven't been doing it for to terribly long.Most contortionists people see are either Asian or European,and have been training there whole lives.There are contortionists that start later on as well,I started when I was 14 and I'm 15 now and I'm making good progress[especially since I can be lazy at times and not stretch] With patience,practice,and passion anybody can do it!I now practice 1-3 hours every day or every other day,not stretching can be crucial and set me back.If I stopped,it would take a while to get back to where I was.Initially,contortionists are so flexible because they constantly stretch,stretch,stretch and stretch even more!
    Well,I hope I answered your question somewhere in this heap of information:]
     
  20. Feb 12, 2011 #19

    sophiecentaur

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