Until recently, when I heard the name David Blaine, I thought of card tricks. A street magician that is pretty good at sleight of hand type entertainment that mesmerized people. Quite frankly, I was not impressed. I heard about a couple of his “magic” tricks that got a lot of press, like being buried alive and being frozen in a block of ice. I didn't really give him much thought. I had seen some of his street magic shows on cable T.V. and I could explain everything (at least I thought I could). “Its just an illusion”. Well, I stumbled upon a TED Talks (Technology, Entertainment, Design) video of Blaine and I have a new found respect for him.
In 2010, Blaine went on TED Talks to describe a stunt that he did which sounds absolutely absurd. He held his breath for 17 minutes and 4 seconds. I clicked on the link expecting to see how the trick was done and what type of illusions he had used. Boy, was I wrong.
David Blaine's TED Talks video was intense. I started watching it and within seconds I was hooked. Blaine dressed casually and was nonchalantly narrating the show on a stage for TED MED Talks, which is a TED Talks that had Doctors and Scientists in the audience. Many were interested in how Blaine could hold his breath under water for so long without being brain dead, or just dead.
Blaine delivered his presentation using in depth slides and videos. At first, his goal was to create an illusion of holding his breath under water. Blaine showed the crowd slides of crude medical procedures that he was experimenting with to create this illusion and none of them were working. Blaine decided he would actually do the stunt without "tricks" Doctors were telling him that holding your breath for longer than 6 minutes had many health risks.
Blaine looked at it as a challenge. He learned the art of static-apnea, which is keeping your body functioning without breathing.
At the time, the static-apnea World Record holder Tom Sietas held his breath for 8 minutes and 58 seconds. Blaine was determined to make the impossible possible and on The Oprah Winfrey Show, he announced that he would attempt to break that record on live television.
In this TED Talk, Blaine went into great detail from his training all the way to breaking the World Record. Blaine documented his stunt from the very beginning and he showed the crowd images and videos on a screen of how he conditioned himself for this feat. He also talked about how doctors were monitoring him before, during and for weeks after this stunt, documenting his progress for the advancement of science and medicine. Blaine had a many videos in his TED Talk and he provided minute by minute commentary on his World Record breaking stunt which made his presentation compelling.
After watching this TED Talk, I was quite impressed with David Blaine. Not only is he a magician, illusionist, and a World Record breaker, he's a pretty darn good public speaker too. The audience was riveted by his explanation of how he defied death. Blaine's casual narration was comical at times and emotional at others. Blaine even got a bit teary eyed as he concluded the presentation by talking about all that how hard he worked to get himself to that point.
Blaine held the World Record for static-apnea for four months until it was broken by Tom Seitas. It has been broken a few times since and Seitas is the current record holder at 22 minutes and 22 seconds. But that's o.k. with David Blaine. He's already reached that goal and went above and beyond to achieve it. I'm sure that Blaine will continue to challenge himself and perform new stunts that will continue to amaze us, inspire us, and show us the impossible.