All You Need to Know About… Gravity Hills

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With the start of the new year, the beloved column All You Need to Know About… has returned.

This article is about an optical illusion called a gravity hill. These strange hills make objects defy gravity, but why?

A gravity hill, which can also be called a magnetic hill, mystery hill, mystery spot, or gravity road, is a place where an optical illusion is created through the layout of the surrounding area. It can make a slight downhill slope appear to be an uphill slope or vice versa. These strange spots can seem confusing and are often accompanied by claims that magnetic or supernatural forces are at work. But that is not true. The real factor creating these strange illusions is a completely or mostly obstructed horizon. Without a horizon, it it is nearly impossible to tell whether or not something is level and it can even seem to be the opposite. Objects that people would normally assume to be more or less perpendicular to the ground (such as trees) may actually be leaning, making the area seem flat even when it is not. This further aids to the illusion. Things like cars and balls appear to roll uphill against gravity. There are hundreds of these gravity hills around the world, including one here in Pittsburgh.

In Pittsburgh’s very own Wexford Area there is a gravity hill, located on McKinney road. Here, people have seen water go uphill along with cars in neutral gear. Somebody even filmed a ball and a car go up the hill. That video along with directions to the park are located below.

 

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