David Blaine: He's the guy who survived being electrocuted for 72 hours, frozen for 63 hours and submerged in water for 17 minutes. So what makes him a good fit for an appearance at the New Horizons Pluto flyby mission?
Well, who cares? He did it anyway, taking the stage in his signature all-black outfit in the Johns Hopkins Applied Physics Lab Tuesday night — just hours before NASA got confirmation that the spacecraft survived its encounter with the Pluto system earlier in the morning.
Space and magic. David Blaine performing at tonight's New Horizons party. Phone home signal is coming! pic.twitter.com/apyFJ9sTkx
— NewHorizons2015 (@NewHorizons2015) July 15, 2015
The NASA scientists and space enthusiasts gathered let out oohs and aahs as he sent invisible playing cards beneath the wristwatch of an unsuspecting volunteer. His big act of the night was having a woman pick out a puzzle piece at random that fit perfectly into an image of space — right where Pluto is supposed to be.
The crowd went nuts.
But why David Blaine? The emcees made some comments about the intersection of science and magic tricks, and likened the bewilderment we get while watching illusions to what we feel when looking at incredible photos of Pluto sent to Earth from billions of miles away.
It doesn't hurt that Blaine is good friends with Alan Stern, principal investigator for New Horizons, and that, as a big space fan, Blaine wanted the chance to be at the mission's celebration and to provide some entertainment while people waited for the spacecraft's signal.
"I think people push dreams traveling billions of miles," Blaine told The Washington Post. "It's an incredible moment, and I don't want to miss it."
Blaine, who serves as the magician-in-residence at the Liberty Science Center in New Jersey, went into detail about the long historical connection between artists, scientists and magicians, saying he wants to interact with scientists every chance he gets.
— David Blaine (@davidblaine) July 14, 2015
The New Horizons spacecraft "is most likely going to be traveling after the sun goes out," Blaine added. "It's going to outlive our sun ... it's unbelievable."
Blaine, of course, cut the interview short to show a couple of his magic tricks.
And yes, the tricks were absolutely terrifying.
— Rob Gebelhoff (@RobertGebelhoff) July 15, 2015
The APL saw a number of high profile science personalities attend its event Tuesday, including Bill Nye (the science guy) and Kenneth Lacovara, the paleontologist who discovered the (disputed) largest dinosaur that's ever lived, Dreadnoughtus schrani.