Friday, September 24, 2010

A Place Where Things Seems To Roll Uphill

Friends you may find or hear of a mysterious place where objects can apparently roll uphill. Actually this is a common illusion which is found in numerous locations around the world. These spots where the illusion is especially powerful often become tourist attractions. Tour guides may like to claim that the effect is a mystery or   that it is due to magnetic or gravitational anomalies or even that it is a paranormal phenomenon which science cannot explain.

But, friends this is not true of course. Natural anomalies can only be detected with sensitive equipments and cannot account for these places but science can easily explain them as optical illusion. If you observe the uphills, usually it is a stretch of road in a hilly area where the level horizon is obscured. Objects such as trees and walls which are normally provide visual clues to the true vertical, may be leaning slightly. This creates an optical illusion making a slight downhill look like an uphill slope. Objects may appear to roll uphill. Sometimes rivers even seem to flow against gravity.

There are several things which enables us to sense which way is up. The balance mechanism in our inner ears is one system we have, but visual clues are also important and can be overriding. If the horizon cannot be seen or is not level then we may be fooled by objects which we expect to be vertical but which aren’t really. False perspective may also play a role. If a line of trees get larger or smaller with distance away, our sense of perspective is thrown off. Objects far away may seem smaller or larger than they really are. People often overestimate the angle of a slope. If you are standing on a slope of 1 degree it will seem like a slope of 5 degrees and if you stand on a slope of 5 degrees it may seem like you are on a slope of 30 degrees. Because of this effect the anti-gravity illusion can seem stronger be even when you know the cause.

Interestingly, even when true cause is understood it can be difficult to believe. In some cases the sea horizon is partly visible and it seems incredible that the effect can be an illusion. If you think there is a magnetic anomaly just using two plumb lines, one made of iron and one of stone. They would hang at different angles if a strong magnetic field was acting horizontally. In fact magnetic anomalies are never that strong and are never the cause as is easily shown.

However friends, it is not always easy to demonstrate that a slope which appears to go uphill is really going downhill. Plumb lines and spirit levels cannot be relied on if you think there is a gravitational anomaly.   If the slope runs parallel to a sea view it would be possible to compare a plumb line with the horizon. Otherwise the only reliable way of determining the true horizontal is by careful surveying.  Gravitational anomalies are always very small. In any case, if there was a gravitational anomaly you should wonder how you notice it. There would be an equal effect on your sense of balance as there is  on any object.  The anomaly would not be apparent unless there was a clear view of the sea behind the slope, which there never is.

Mystery Spot Road, off Branciforte Dr. Santa Cruz, CA, USA.
Mystery Spot, Putney Road, Benzie County, Michigan, USA.
Gravity Hill, Northwest Baltimore County, USA.
Gravity Hill, Mooresville, Southwest Indianapolis, USA.
Gravity Road, Ewing Road exit ramp off Route 208, Franklin Lakes, USA.
Mystery Hill, Blowing Rock, hwy 321, Carolina, USA.
Confusion Hill, Idelwild Park, Ligonier, Pennsylvania, USA.
Gravity Hill, off of State Route 96 just south of New Paris, Bedford County, Pennsylvania, USA.
Oregon Vortex, near Gold-Hill, Grants Pass, Oregon, USA.
Spook Hill, North Wales Drive, North Avenue, Lake Wales, Florida, USA.
Magnetic Hill, Near Neepawa in Manitoba, Canada.
Gravity Hill, on McKee Rd. Abbotsford, British Columbia, Canada.
Electric Brae, on the A719, Near Croy Bay, South of Ayr, Ayeshire, Scotland.
Anti-Gravity Hill, Straws Lane Road, Wood-End, Near hanging rock, Victoria, Australia
Morgan Lewis Hill, St Andrew, Barbados.
Hill South of Rome, in Colli Albani, near Frascati, Italy.
Malveira da Serra, on N247 coast road West of Lisbon, Portugal
Mount Penteli, on a road to Mount Penteli, Athens, Greece
Mount Halla, on the 1.100 highway a few miles south of the airport, near Mount Halla, on the island of Cheju Do, South Korea

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