Originally posted on TED Blog:
David Blaine is the master of the endurance stunt. In 1999, he was buried alive in a clear box underneath three tons of water. Over the course of seven days, about 75,000 people stopped by to watch him in his self-made tomb. [ted_talkteaser id=741]In 2008, Blaine attempted to set the Guinness World Record for holding his breath underwater in front of a packed crowd — and had to be pulled out of the tank when he started convulsing. He attempted the trick again, this time successfully, as Oprah‘s cameras rolled — holding his breath for an incredible 17 minutes and 4.5 seconds. Just last year, Blaine performed a new 72-hour stunt in which one million volts of electricity were sent through his body, the whole thing livestreamed over YouTube.
Blaine found these challenges — and their very public nature — both manageable and exciting. But there was one challenge that truly terrified him: being asked to give an 18-minute talk at TEDMED about the magic of illusion and how, sometimes, the best way to perform a trick is to do it for real.