Is it witchcraft? Has someone buried a giant magnet under the earth? Or has gravity decided to do the old switcheroo on us?
Gravity defying mystery spots are scattered all over the world. Strange hills where balls roll uphill and walking downhill takes more effort than up.
Commonly known as "Gravity Hills", these weird spots can be found all over the world- from the aptly named Confusion Hill in California to Magnetic Hill in Canada all the way in Italy, Scotland, Brazil, the UK and even here in Australia.
So what are these bizarre anti-gravity spots? And why are they so intriguing?
Picture yourself in a car, you drive to the bottom of a hill and put your car in neutral, but instead of staying at the bottom of the hill your car begins to roll back up the hill. Essentially you could get out of your car and watch it drift up, up and away.
So what are these freaky gravity hills?
Apparently, these anti-gravity hills are nothing more than a super convincing optical illusion. One so compelling, you’ll need the proper equipment to believe it.
GPS markers and all the proper surveying equipment will tell you that everything you’re seeing is reversed.
"The embankment is sloped in a way that gives you the effect that you are going uphill.” Says Brock Weiss from Pennsylvania State University.
You are, indeed, going downhill, even though your brain gives you the impression that you're going uphill.
But could our eyes deceive us to the point that we believe a car is drifting uphill?
It’s all to do with the horizon point. If we can’t see it, we don’t have a proper point of reference.
In 2003 a study was conducted to test how a lack of horizon may skew our perspective. Scientists recreated these “anti-gravity” hills and recruited the public to see how they’d fair.
Small-scale gravity hills were constructed in Padova and Pavia, Italy. Volunteers peered through the small structure, to give them an idea of place. The researchers then skewed the horizon point. The researchers found that:
“Perceived slope depends on the height of the visible horizon; that surface slant tends to be underestimated relative to the horizontal plane; and that when preceded, followed, or flanked by a steep downhill slope - a slightly downhill stretch is perceived as uphill,"
"The visual (and psychological) effects obtained in our experiments were in all respects analogous to those experienced on site. After each observer's task was concluded, we placed a small roll of tape on the misperceived slope, and the tape appeared to move against the law of gravity - producing surprise and, on occasion, reverential fear."
So there you have it. Unfortunately no giant magnets or witches in sight. Just a bunch of really convincing optical illusions.
Contrary to popular belief, seeing isn’t always believing.