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Physics
  

The Mysterious Gravity Hill

BUCKS COUNTY, Pa. (Ivanhoe Broadcast News) -- Mystery spots of land, often known as gravity hills, are found throughout the United States and seemingly pull objects uphill.

"I was surprised at how fast I was moving," says sightseer Andrew Carr.

The mysterious spot in Bucks County, Pennsylvania about which he speaks is called Gravity Hill. Put your car in neutral, and it will look and feel like it's rolling uphill. Rolling a ball or pouring water also appears to flow uphill.

Why did physics choose this hill to go berserk?

Carr says, "I thought it was some kind of odd magnetic pull or something like that here that, that pulled your car along."

"Some people think maybe there's a warp in the earth's gravity," Dennis Tice, directory of the Bedford County Visitors Bureau, tells Ivanhoe.

Don't believe everything you hear or see. The truth behind this phenomenon is it's an optical illusion.

"The embankment is sloped in a way that gives you the effect that you are going uphill," materials physicist Brock Weiss, Ph.D., of Pennsylvania State University in University Park, tells Ivanhoe.

The illusion is caused by the landscape. The position of trees and slopes of nearby scenery and a curvy horizon line have blended to trick the eye. GPS measurements by physicists show the elevation at the start is higher than at the end. The road actually slopes downhill!

Weiss says, "You are, indeed, going downhill even though your, your brain gives you the impression that you're going uphill."

Revealing the secrets behind Gravity Hill proves gravity hasn't gone haywire; it's just playing tricks on your mind.

"Oh, I think it's still fun," Carr says. "I would still bring people here to show them." A fun, quirky science site worth seeing.

To find a gravity hill in your state, go to http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/gravity_hill.

Click here to Go Inside This Science or contact:

Brock Weiss, Ph.D.
Assistant Professor of Physics
Pennsylvania State Unversity
(814) 949-5303
blw8@psu.edu


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A joint production of Ivanhoe Broadcast News and the American Institute of Physics. Partially funded by a grant from the National Science Foundation.
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