Rolling Uphill Illusion

I came across this particular video on youtube. The video was suggesting that there are places where there are illusions of objects defying gravity. I was so interested by this phenomenon that i went and googled for the explanation. I hope you enjoyed this as much as i did.

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The following explanation is extracted from:
I know a place where things seem to roll uphill. How does it work?

Sometimes you may find or hear of a mysterious place where objects can apparently roll uphill. This is a remarkably common illusion which is found in numerous locations around the world. Usually it is a stretch of road in a hilly area where the level horizon is obscured. Objects such as trees and walls that 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.

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 that science cannot explain. This is not true of course. Natural anomalies can only be detected with sensitive equipment and cannot account for these places but science can easily explain them as optical illusions.

There are several things that enable 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 that 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 degrees 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 than it should be even when you know the cause.

Even when the 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 use 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, it is not always easy to demonstrate that a slope that 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 seaview 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. If a good topographical map of the area is available it may be sufficient to show which way the land is really sloping. The results will confirm the illusion. Gravitational anomalies are always very small. In any case, if there was a gravitational anomaly you should wonder how you would 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.

A search on the web turned up a surprising number of examples of this illusion. Most are natural while others have been constructed in theme parks. Below is an incomplete list of the natural ones for those who want to visit. Many thanks to those who have sent more site details for this list. Do check locations are correct before making a long journey and remember that it may be dangerous or illegal to stop or reverse your car on slip roads and bends!

* Mystery Spot Road, off Branciforte Dr. Santa Cruz, CA, USA. A spot 50m in diameter in the redwoods of the Santa Cruz Mountains
* Mystery Spot, Putney Road, Benzie County, Michigan, USA.
* Gravity Hill, Northwest Baltimore County, USA. along a public road that ran through the Soldier’s Delight environmental area.
* Gravity Hill, Mooresville, Southwest Indianapolis, USA. Located off SR 42 on the South side of Mooresville.
* 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.
* Gravity Hill (near White’s Hill) , just South of Rennick Road, on County Truck U, South of Shullsburg, in LaFayette County, Wisconsin, USA
* Oregon Vortex, near Gold-Hill, Grants Pass, Oregon, USA.
* Spook Hill, North Wales Drive, North Avenue, Lake Wales, Florida, USA.
* Spook Hill, Gapland Road just outside Burkittsville, Gapland (Frederick County), Maryland, USA.
* Magnetic Hill, Near Neepawa in Manitoba, Canada.
* Magnetic Mountain, just off the Trans Canada highway, Moncton, New Brunswick, Canada.
* Gravity Hill, on McKee Rd. just before Ledgeview Golf Course in 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

This document, The Physics and Relativity FAQ, as a collection, is © 1992–2006 by Scott Chase, Michael Weiss, Philip Gibbs, Chris Hillman, and Nathan Urban.  The individual articles are © 1992–2006 by the individual authors credited.  All rights are reserved. Permission to use, copy and distribute this unmodified document, as a whole, by any means and for any purpose EXCEPT PROFIT PURPOSES is hereby granted, provided that all author attributions, the above Copyright notice, and this permission notice appear in all copies of the FAQ itself.

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