Most people have heard the story. Stop your car in a specific location and put it in neutral, often over a set of railroad tracks, and ghostly hands will come and push your car. Proof that this is indeed ghostly phenomenon is two fold. First, your car moves up hill. Second, if you dust the trunk of your car with flour before you start, you will discover handprints after your car is pushed.
While the stories surrounding the locations are often false, the phenomenon is not. What is occurring on this spots is actually an optical illusion. Although the location appears to be uphill, it is actually downhill. This occurs when certain factors are in play especially if:
- The horizon is either completely or mostly hidden. Humans use the horizon to help us judge the slope of a surface.
- Usually perpendicular objects, such as trees, are not perpendicular. Instead, they lean, which offsets our visual reference.
This illusion is very similar to what happens in an Ames room. An Ames room, first constructed by American ophthalmologist Adelbert Ames, Jr., is designed so a person will look taller or shorter depending on which corner of the room he or she is standing in.
But what causes the handprints? Actually, it is nothing more supernatural than a dirty car. Keep in mind that the handprints are found on locations where hand prints are usually found: the trunk. The flour is uncovering handprints that already existed on the car and not ones that were recently created.
Here are some known gravity hill locations:
- Sylacuga, Alabama
- Helena, Arkansas
- La Jolla, California
- Lake Wales, Florida
- Cumming, Georgia
- Mooresville, Indiana
- Greenfield, Massachusetts
- Burkittsville, Maryland
- Franklin Lakes, New Jersey
- New Paris, Pennsylvania
- San Antonio, Texas
- LaFayette County, Wisconsin
For more information about the phenomenon, check out the following sites:
- Rolling Hill Illusion by Philip Gibbs
- Physicists Show "Antigravity" Mystery Spots Are Optical Illusions
- Spook Hills in the Lab
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