“Like the corners of my mind…”
In this episode we do magic tricks, crash cars, dress up as gorillas and stuff my mouth and nose with marshmallows. All in a days work for Team X. Indeed our commitment to expanding the frontiers of science is exceeded only by our penchant for exploring the absurd (when you see the murder scene you’ll understand the whole "absurd" bit).
True to our Project X form, we will surprise you with how little our show is about "Memory" in the way you were expecting. There are no Barbra Streisand torch songs or even neat little games looking for pairs of cards. In fact Marc and I spend all of our time investigating how memories are formed, not how they are recalled.
Our goal is to understand "inattentional blindness". That’s where you don’t notice the spilt beer on the rug when the Esks are third and goal in the fourth quarter and trailing 5 points. It turns out, if you concentrate hard enough on one thing, your brain filters out other things coming to your senses and prevents that "extraneous" information from being recorded in your memory (note to myself: concentrate on what you like, and you won’t see the stuff you don’t like - I should go into politics). On top of that, I’m told that engineers are particularly susceptible to this affliction as they are good at focusing on analytical tasks while blocking other distractions out. Yep, my wife will confirm that one.
Our guest stars are a stage magician and a memory expert. With their help, we do a little test on live human subjects at the University of Alberta. In this scene, five live subjects watch the magician and do not notice our little gag. I won’t tell you what happens, you’ll have to watch yourself, but one of our subjects who is actually my cousin falls for it twice in a row (coincidence? I don’t think so).
We also try to riddle Marc with annoying questions while he is driving a special skid-prone car. The purpose of this experiment is to see how much attention overload is required to make him crash. To his credit, you should know this car is especially hard to drive, and practically spins out if the nasty prairie winds blow too hard. He crashes all right, but it’s worth the sacrifice because he gets to wear this snazzy race car driver suit.
Also this week, Brian Alters acts out his fantasy of murdering me to discover a new science called “memory fingerprinting”. Meanwhile Jenn looks into muscle memory with some real life spidermen. Test your own inattentional blindness at the end when "Jenn" does her own wallcrawling routine.