Playing with Fire

Published on 4 August 2020

Earlier this year, viewers across the UK witnessed the magic of Dundee graduate, Kevin Quantum, on the ITV hit show Britain’s Got Talent

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Due to the Covid-19 pandemic the semi-finals of Britain’s Got Talent were put on hold, but Kevin was happy to share his experience of the show and how it has led to some new and interesting projects.

“It was a wonderful experience. The act looked spectacular and I was really happy that this massive experiment and engineering project that I had been working on for years was so warmly received. I was delighted to bring some old school science to the stage.”

Kevin’s engineering project culminated in a large metal structure from which a series of cannon balls hung. The cannon balls were set alight then released so they swung like a pendulum in front of him. Wearing a black hood over his face Kevin calmly walked through the pendulum.

“I wanted to take this experiment with the harmonic pendulum, first devised 150 years ago by Austrian physicist Ernest Mach, and supersize it with the cannonballs and fire. I came up with the idea a couple of years ago. Despite how it looked it’s not as dangerous as you think. It had all been risk assessed. There was a small mistake that I had prepared for and it worked, it increased the drama element.”

There was a lot of complicated mathematics involved in the early stages, working out the motion of the pendulum, something he credits to his studies at Dundee.

Kevin Quantum holding a light with a rainbow radiating out all around him
“What I do for a living is to fuse magic and science, I wouldn’t have been able to do it without my education from Dundee. What’s behind the pendulum swing is a spreadsheet with some really nice mathematics which helped me work out how to position everything”

Kevin Quantum

“It’s wasn’t just about the practical skills I developed at Dundee, but also how to convey my ideas. There was one lecturer I really liked, so spent a lot of time on the project for his course. He graded me at a C and I didn’t understand why. He told me it’s not about what you said, it’s how you said it. He really helped me to convey my ideas and this has stood me in good stead ever since.”

One of the highlights of appearing on Britain’s Got Talent was being called a ‘sexy Doctor Who’ by David Walliams.

“I’ll be using that for the rest of my life! There was a lot of love from all the judges – they could see that a lot of sweat, blood and tears had gone into the act.

“It was great to get all the positive comments, not just from the judges but from across the magic and science community too. I’ve had a lot of science teachers reaching out and thanking me.”

Britain’s Got Talent should have been the start of an exciting and busy year for Kevin with the Brighton Fringe, Science Fiction conventions across the country and the Edinburgh Festival Fringe. With everything being cancelled due to the global pandemic Kevin had to come up with an alternative plan.

“My diary emptied and I was instantly met with the problem of having to change my business really quickly. I shifted everything online. I knew I had to keep busy and had the idea of doing a magic show lesson every day for children, what became the Quantum Magic Lab.

“I didn’t know what would happen next but those videos have led to the potential of television work and making educational videos. The whole idea of the videos was science and magic – teach kids to do a magic trick then sneak the science in, the science makes it different from an ordinary magic trick.”

When Britain’s Got Talent returns to our screens we look forward to seeing how Kevin fares. In the meantime you can view his dangerous act.

You can also view the Quantum Magic Lab.

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