Don’t believe me? Look it up!
What follows doesn’t seem as though it could be true, but it is!
It’s never a good idea to usurp power and install your own people as boss. In the 1800’s the French had seized power in Algeria, and were struggling to maintain control. The Algerians, not interested in answering to the French, were frequently in a near state of revolt.
Several Algerian tribes were under the spell of a local mystic, who claimed he had special power. In 1856 the French Government retained the services of magician, Robert Houdin to settle down the tribes.
Houdin performed a rather cheeky magic trick that calmed the Algerian rebels, and cemented French rule.
Houdin used newly discovered science to convince the Algerian population that he, not their local mystic, had more power. And he succeeded! After his effect, the Algerian population, thoroughly convinced of Houdin as the true man of power, settled down and didn’t revolt.
Here’s what that Robert Houdin did…
He secretly buried a very strong electromagnet in the sand. Buried deep enough that the surface of the sand looked normal.
Then, Houdin asked the Algerian mystic to step forward. Houdin casually placed his own valise on the sand, and asked the mystic to pick it up, which the mystic proceeded to do.
Houdin then said to the mystic, “I will now take away your strength”.
He asked the mystic to lift the valise. The mystic couldn’t lift it an inch.
The Secret Behind the Effect…
Inside the bag, Houdin had hidden steel plates. After the mystic picked up the bag the first time, Houdin secretly turned the electromagnet on (still hidden in the sand), and the plates inside the bag became attracted to it.
In closing, Houdin told the local mystic he would “give him back his strength”. Secretly, the electromagnet was turned off, and the local hero could easily lift the bag.
The Algerian population was convinced that the French had a more powerful man than they, and chose not to revolt.
A fascinating story, and one that shows how magic, trickery, and illusion have shaped the course of history.