Amazing Geometric Vanish - MAGIC magazine

Talk about what is being written in other magic publications.

Postby Joe Mckay » 11/06/10 08:55 PM

Hey everyone,

Wow! I have just come across a beautiful thing in the latest issue of MAGIC magazine. You should all go and check page 72 of the NOVEMBER issue. You will find a trick called THE BERMUDA SQUARE by Brian Daniel. And it is great. Indeed - you are lucky since it is also available as a download from the MAGIC MAGAZINE website:

He has managed to combine two famous puzzles - THE VANISHING LEPRECHAUN and THE MISSING SQUARE PUZZLE.

This combination is such a great idea - and in hindsight quite obvious. I kick myself for not thinking of it myself! But it takes a real genius to see such possibilities... The use of the two principles really helps reinforce each other. I love seeing magic tricks in which two different principles interact in this way - and this is another example of this elegant type of thinking.

Either of the original puzzles could fool you endlessly as you played with it. And now - with this combination - the impossibility factor is notched up a couple of levels. I really hope this trick can be sold in a wooden puzzle form. I think it would make an ideal magical 'toy' for a child. I would certainly have loved one when I was younger.

Indeed - what could be better than a trick you can play with in your own hands - which continues to repeatedly fool you the more you think about it. This - for me - is as close to real magic as you can get...

Anyway - I would love to hear from anyone else if this combination of principles has being done before? It is just such a great idea that I am curious to see if others have thought of this as well. But - either way - I congratulate Brian Daniel on the best thing I have read in the past few years...

All the best,

Joe Mckay
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Postby Max Maven » 11/07/10 10:57 AM

I agree, the Brian Daniel composition is terrific.

Regarding its background, some clarification seems warranted. He has not combined two puzzles. Rather, he has used one principle in two ways, simultaneously. That's a very fine idea, but not without precedent.

The root concept is what Martin Gardner termed "The Principle of Concealed Distribution."

The most popular application is to cause visual information to vanish. Surely the best modern version is Pat Lyons' "The Vanishing Leprechaun" (1968), but that was by no means the earliest. A prior entry, also quite popular in its day, was Sam Loyd's "Get Off the Earth" (1896).

But there is another widespread application, using the same principle to apparently cause a physical vanish of a portion of the item. This goes back at least as far as the Italian architect Sebastiano Serlio, who published it in 1551.

A number of well known magicians and puzzlists have devised versions of one effect or the other, including the aforementioned Martin Gardner, Theodore DeLand (Hi, Richard), Winston Freer and Mark Setteducati. Others have come up with astonishing new effects using the principle, notably Paul Curry, Mel Stover and Masao Atsukawa.

As for the idea of devising a layout that accomplishes both of the basic effects (i.e., an informational vanish plus a physical vanish), it has been done before. If you go to here you can find one by Gianni A. Sarcone. There have been others.

This is to take nothing away from Mr. Brian; simply to provide additional information.
Max Maven
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Postby Joe Mckay » 11/07/10 11:41 AM

Thanks for that, Max. I was hoping you might pop in and share your knowledge. I really appreciate it...

Thanks too for providing information about the history of this principle. I found some more details on a disscuion page linked to the wikipedia page. Here is a 'cut and paste':

The first example of vanishing area puzzles was reported in the book Libro dArchitettura Primo by Sebastiano Serlio, an Italian architect of the Renaissance (even though Serlio didnt notice that any area had actually vanished!).

The first description and mathematical explanation of the vanish paradox was found in a math puzzle book with a very long title: Rational Recreations in which the Principles of Numbers and Natural Philosophy are clearly & copiously elucidated, by a Series of easy, entertaining, interesting Experiments among which are all those commonly performed with the Cards by William Hooper (1774). - G. Sarcone, source: PUZZILLUSIONS,, Carlton Books Ltd, ISBN 1844420647

Also - Here is a corrected link to the page that Max linked to above:

On a related point. I have often wondered about whether this sort of pricniple has being used (or could be used) to forge paper money? The idea being you would cut up nine one dollar bills - and rearrange them to create ten one dollar bills. Of course - each of the 'new' dollar bills would be slightly smaller than the previous ones...

I wish I could find a link to a diagram showing what I am talking about. There should be one since I have seen this somewhere in a magic/puzzle book...

The above question is purely hypothetical. I am sure things like the codes at each end of the bill - or even gluing back the two halves seamlessly would make this sort of thing pretty impractical...

Joe Mckay
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Postby Joe Mckay » 11/07/10 12:07 PM

If you click HERE and read the last couple of paragraphs you will find some information about the 'counterfeiting money' idea I mentioned before...


PS Towards the bottom of THIS PAGE you can see a diagram of the 'line paradox'. This is what I was looking for earlier. With it you can easily see how this geometric vanish could be applied to paper money. With it - you can turn $9 into $10!!!
Joe Mckay
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Postby El Mystico » 11/08/10 07:04 AM

Thanks for drawing our attention to this, Joe - I think it's lovely.
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Postby David Britland » 11/08/10 09:30 PM

Terri Rogers showed me a very similar trick in the 1980s. It too was based around the Bermuda Triangle mystery but, more logically I think, used the Paul Curry triangle from Gardner's Mathematics Magic & Mystery book.

The triangle had drawings of ships on it. Simple bird's eye views of the hull shapes. In rearranging the pieces of the triangle one of the ships disappeared leaving a hole.

It was her invention but I don't think she ever published or marketed it.
David Britland
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Postby mrgoat » 11/09/10 07:46 AM

What a wonderful thing. I had a 'craft 5 minutes' yesterday with pritt stick and scissors and the cardboard from a cornflakes box. Made me feel like a kid. Then when I did the puzzle/trick I ended up fooling myself.

Great fun!
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Postby Joe Mckay » 11/09/10 02:28 PM

Me too, MrGoat. I am usually too lazy to dig out glue and scissors. But in this case I just had to...

Thanks for the credit information, David. I am a huge fan of Terri Rogers's work. Indeed I keep meaning to re-read all her work. So many great ideas there...

Joe Mckay
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Postby Pete McCabe » 11/09/10 06:23 PM

John Rogers, who makes those amazing fake cigars, sells a Winston Freer tile puzzle in which you rearrange the pieces to fill the same space but with a single square piece left over. This is repeated two more times with the same pieces(!), ending with the original space filled and three squares left.

The puzzle is made of solid Corian and costs an eye-popping $399, but it is really nice and will last forever. You can see it here, including a video demo.
Pete McCabe
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Postby joseph » 01/17/11 03:35 AM

hey guys,,,,
A magazine where the digital world meets the real world. On the web ...
This amazing effect works through a combination of geometry and an error in the way people see. ...
The jigsaw is based on the above simple
geometric vanish. ...
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Postby Jonathan Townsend » 01/17/11 09:17 AM

Which book has the sheet of rectangles - and the text describes it as money where a rearrangement permits a claim of there being "more"? Old book.
Mundus vult decipi
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Postby Bill Mullins » 09/26/11 12:04 PM

Max Maven wrote:The most popular application is to cause visual information to vanish. Surely the best modern version is Pat Lyons' "The Vanishing Leprechaun" (1968), but that was by no means the earliest. A prior entry, also quite popular in its day, was Sam Loyd's "Get Off the Earth" (1896).

An interesting use of the Sam Loyd puzzle is HERE. Background HERE.
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Postby Bill Mullins » 04/13/12 09:08 PM

Mariano Tomatis has collected a number of these puzzles HERE and []HERE[/url] (which links back to this thread).
Bill Mullins
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Postby Bill Mullins » 09/30/13 09:07 PM

A relevant video by Mariano.
Bill Mullins
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Postby Edwin Corrie » 10/02/13 04:33 AM

Bill Mullins wrote:A relevant video by Mariano.

You beat me to it! This has to be one of the best, because you actually seem to be creating something that people want. I love the implication that the whole bowl of extra chocolate squares has been obtained in this way.

Another related item by Masao Atsukawa appeared in the New York Magic Symposium 5 book:

"Fair Exchange (Masao Atsukawa): Two puzzles shown, magician and spectator race to complete their playing card puzzle. The pieces are turned face up, and the puzzle attempted again, but the last piece won't fit. The players must exchange pieces to complete the puzzle!"
Edwin Corrie
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