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August 12th, 2010
02:43 PM ET

How a magician held his breath for 17 minutes

David Blaine likes to challenge himself to do things that doctors say are not possible. He was buried alive in a coffin for a week in April 1999, living on nothing but water. This magician has frozen himself in a block of ice for three days, and stood on top of a 100-foot pillar for 36 hours.

Determined to break the world record for holding one's breath, Blaine embarked on "the most amazing journey of my life." In the video above, from TEDMED, he details all of the ideas he had for how to go about this, as well as how he actually made it past 17 minutes without breathing.

TEDMED is an annual event that brings together dozens of luminaries from a variety of fields to "demonstrate the intersection and connections between all things medical and health care related: from personal health to public health, devices to design and Hollywood to the hospital."  TEDMED 2010 will take place from October 26 to 29 in San Diego, California.

Editor's note: Dr. Sanjay Gupta will be attending TEDMED in October and his coverage of the conference will be featured in "Sanjay Gupta, M.D."


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