From Innovation and Tech Today
Science and magic are generally seen as opposite sides of the coin . In popular culture , the scientific process of a hero like Iron Man is seen as a stark contrast to the mystic powers of Doctor Strange . However , illusionist
Jason Latimer has effectively combined the two , creating encapsulating stage shows that meld the entertainment of magic with the educational aspects of STEM . Founder of the Impossible Science Program , Latimer spreads his interest in science and magic through festivals , interactive experiments , and his work on shows such as Wizard Wars and SciJinks . In this exclusive interview , Latimer details how the Impossible Science Program originated and discusses the power of asking questions .
Innovation & Tech Today : When did you realize that the worlds of magic and education can intersect ?
Jason Latimer : When I was kid , I was just fascinated by magic . However , I was finding myself staring at a magic book wondering what is possible . Then I soon found myself staring at a science book wondering the same question . Like , how do you know what can and can ’ t happen ? Basically , go to the next page and you keep reading and you keep learning . But as I grew up , I started studying science in order to build better magic tricks .
I wasn ’ t really interested in telling what
would happen . I ’ ve never been interested in doing magic tricks that other people do . So , I wanted to build new 21st century magic . When I went to build bending light and bending lasers , that sounded like physics , so I studied physics . When I wanted to study shaping water , that sounded like chemistry , so I started studying chemistry . Soon , I started building different illusions with different fields of science . Then it eventually grew into the Impossible Science Program . But I think the real “ ah ha !” moment was when I was looking in science to try to figure out that maybe there ’ s something in the science world that hasn ’ t been applied in the magic world before .
l & T Today : How did the Impossible Science Program begin ?
JL : It originated with my TEDx Wall Street talk called , “’ Seeing Beyond the Illusion of Knowledge .” It was pointing out this need to remind people that we need wonder and we need it more now than we ’ ve ever needed it . Because people are searching for questions and moving on as if they have a crystal ball of knowledge in their hands with the internet . People have forgotten we gave the internet its answers . It ’ s only as good as we are . The reason I point that out is if the internet were around when we collectively thought the earth was flat , you would never be able to search the true shape of earth on any search engine because everyone would ’ ve uploaded the wrong information .
I decided to leave my stage shows in the casino world and start working with science centers and museums around the country . I started a program in San Diego to inspire kids to want to ask questions by using magic to get the conversation started . Let ’ s say invisibility , we learned the hard science about how light works and how the biology of the eye works . It literally comes down to the idea that we must inspire wonder . To find that new cure , to find that new technology , we must get the kids excited about asking new questions . That ’ s the essence of it . It started with a TEDx Wall Street talk that changed my life .
I & T Today : What do you want those involved with the program to walk away with ?
JL : I want to empower people . I want to inspire and empower people with the ability to ask a question . And to think critically and logically . That ’ s what science is , a progression of logical questions . And that ’ s it . I want people to realize that wonder changes the world , and they could be wondering about a question no one else has thought of before . So basically , we ’ re empowering people with the ability to do something they were born with . Which is kind of funny , but at the same time , people tend to forget that our education system today , for the most part , stomps out creativity and thinking outside the box .