Journal article Open Access

Antigravity Hills are Visual Illusions

Bressan, Paola; Garlaschelli, Luigi; Barracano, Monica

Antigravity hills, also known as spook hills or magnetic hills, are natural places where cars put into neutral are seen to move uphill on a slightly sloping road, apparently defying the law of gravity. We show that these effects, popularly attributed to gravitational anomalies, are in fact visual illusions. We re-created all the known types of antigravity spots in our laboratory using tabletop models; the number of visible stretches of road, their slant, and the height of the visible horizon were systematically varied in four experiments. We conclude that antigravity-hill effects follow from a misperception of the eye level relative to gravity, caused by the presence of either contextual inclines or a false horizon line.

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