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Magic explained: Fooling Houdini

28 June 2012 Last updated at 14:05 BST

In Fooling Houdini: Magicians, Mentalists, Math Geeks, and the Hidden Powers of the Mind, Alex Stone explores the connection between science and magic, and ponders why we love being fooled.

Stone has been practising magic tricks since he was five. He's trained with top magicians and competed in the Magic Olympics - though he was disqualified in 2006.

But that humbling incident pales in comparison to to the criticism he's received for his new book.

Fooling Houdini introduces the layman to the fascinating and deep world of magic, from its beginnings to present trends on the magic circuit. It also, some critics claim, betrays the secrets behind beloved tricks.

Stone describes the psychological, mathematical and scientific principles that enable magicians - and even con-men and swindlers - to fool the audience from just a foot away. He took to the streets of New York City to demonstrate some of the lessons in his book.

Produced for the BBC by Felicia Barr. Camera by Ilya Shnitser.