Thursday, 19 April 2007

More than a list of fish

I am a big fan of Derren Brown. I think his mind-reading and other psychological effects he and his team create are astonishing and his website is way cool. (Did I just use the phrase "way cool"?) His colour-changing hair trick is especially good... have you noticed how he has slowly become more ginger? No? I didn't really notice either until I happened to recently watch one of his Mind Control TV shows. It was the one where he predicts the idea the two ad agency creatives come up with for his chain of taxidermy shops and then 'reveals' that he influenced their thoughts through carefully placed cues on their cab journey to the office. Excellent stuff. Anyway, in that episode his hair was black. It's funny how you don't notice changes like this when they happen gradually over a long period of time, isn't it?

Anyway, I mention Mr Brown here because in the preface to his book Tricks of the Mind he relates a story from when he visited the London Aquarium. He makes no mention of the robot fish (he probably doesn't want to admit to the possibility of being duped himself). Instead, he quite rightly questions the utility of signs next to each tank that are in braille, observing that even if a blind visitor were able to locate these signs then all that they would be left with at the end of their visit would a list of fish. Hardly worth the £13.25 entrance fee!

Blind fish-lovers should instead make their way to the Monterey Bay Aquarium in California. For one, it's in California. And if that isn't reason enough to visit, blind visitors are provided with hands on bronze sculptures to give them an idea of what the sea creatures may be feel like. Sure, it's what they would feel like if they were made of bronze, but still.

Now all Derren needs to worry about is how do a version of his colour-changing hair trick that his blind fans can also enjoy!

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