Career Guinness World Record holder and stunt-shocker David Blaine returned to his hometown of New York City this weekend to show off his newest stunt — getting electrocuted.
The 39-year-old magician, who has already achieved international fame for feats like being buried alive for a week and holding his breath underwater for record-breaking times, staged his newest act at Hudson River Park’s Pier 54: “Electrified: One Million Volts Always On.”
For the stunt, Blaine subjected himself to one million volts of electrical power for 72 hours straight, wearing only a full-body chain-mail suit for protection.
In comparison, the lethal third rail that operates New York City subways carries only 625 volts.
Blaine, who was able to make only limited movements, was surviving barely nourishment. But he looked to be in high spirits, smiling and waving to the crowd from his glowing red metal mask.
The event was sponsored by the international computer chip manufacturer Intel, which used the event to promote the Ultrabook, their new line of mini notebook computers. The notebook computers were prominently used to control the volts of electricity hitting Blaine.
Rick Swenson, one of the event’s Intel-employed staff, drew the relationship between Blaine’s stunt and his employers’ mission.
“Both Blaine and Intel are on the forefront of electrical ingenuity, and today it’s all coming together,” Swenson said. “We hope that this event both teaches people something about physics and electricity, as well as shows people what Ultrabooks can do.”
The event was open to the public, and visitors were allowed to use the computers to control some of the Tesla electrical coils.
For theatrics, the coils were also connected to a sound-system that played haunting dark melodies, which corresponded to the level and direction of electricity hitting Blaine.
Musicians such as Andrew W.K. performed, connecting their instruments to the electrical circuits that controlled the coils shocking Blaine.
Dan Vitetta, a magician who visited Pier 54 with his family this weekend, said Blaine’s new stunt was unique and impressive.
“It absolutely has to be a spiritual experience for Blaine,” Vitetta said. “To be up there without any food, without anything, just him and the electricity. How many
other people ever try to do something like that?”
However, not everyone shared Vitetta’s enthusiasm. NYU theoretical physics professor Alexander Grosberg criticized the act as purposeless.
“It is a very stupid idea for a man to spend 72 hours without sleep, food and water standing on some platform,” Grosberg said. “I do not see any goal or any purpose in this except seeking a cheap popularity. It has no underlying interesting physics or science.”
A version of this article appeared in the Tuesday, Oct. 9 print edition. Andrew Karpan is a contributing writer. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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