View Full Version : What's the deal with Mystery Spots / Vortexes / Hills tourist traps?
10-05-2002, 02:14 AM
Hi all, I was just wondering if anybody had a good explanation of what is at work with all of those tourist traps around the country that claim to be gravitational oddities or Mystery Spots. (A good example is the Santa Cruz, CA Mystery Spot www.mysteryspot.com) I know that most of these places are shacks built on hills that use optical illusions to make gravity appear to shift 30-45 degrees off from true vertical or to make things "roll up-hill" I was just curious if anybody out there has more information on this. I work with a number of flat-earth types that refuse to accept that these are merely illusions.
10-05-2002, 04:30 AM
Eh, we have several of those sites here in Michigan. Neat optical illusions, nothing more. Spend the $5-$10 bucks and go to one. More entertaining then most movies these days...
10-05-2002, 07:55 AM
Regarding the "Mystery Spot" site - the biggest mystery is how they trained the gibbon to use FrontPage. Man, that's gotta be hard...
I also don't understand this, from their site. Read this, and then see this part:
We began to check from that, and we found the more checked the more we found, until we found we had this spot of ground here. About one hundred fifty feet in diameter, that so far, we have not found any instrument absolutely correct over. A portable radio will play any place over it, but with very little variation, being the nearest correct that we have found.
The words are in English, but I honestly, with no joking, cannot understand what they are saying. :confused:
10-05-2002, 09:28 AM
They are simply places where the ground looks like it's sloping one way and actually is tilted another way. I've been to one - Magnet Hill in Canada - and found that was exactly what it was. Carefully examining the curvature of the road will show you what these things are. Bring a level if you're really being meticulous.
10-05-2002, 09:30 AM
Well, Anthracite, they did try to tell you on the first page:It can't be explained. It can't be described.Your quote just bears this out.
Church Key Kid
10-05-2002, 09:34 AM
I work with a number of flat-earth types that refuse to accept that these are merely illusions.
And what is their explanation for it? Do they not believe in gravity?
10-05-2002, 10:05 AM
It's not really an optical illusion. It is a perceptual illusion. All of the surfaces are tilted. You are standing on a tilted surface looking at a less tilted surface. You perceive it as uphill because it is uphill relative to you but it is downhill relative to level. You are just more tilted down relative to level.
Here (http://www.sandlotscience.com/MysterySpots/MysterySpots.htm) is a nice explanation with illustrations.
10-05-2002, 12:05 PM
I've been to the Santa Cruz one with some friends, one of whom was a Physics major; we lagged behind the tour group and did some simple disproving of the effects inside the house. You basically have to be standing where the guide wants you to be for anything to look strange; for example the ball rolling 'uphill' doesn't look at all impressive when you're standing below it.
As for the effect quoted by Anthracite, I think (though you realize I'm not clear on it either) that has to do with one of the 'experiments' done there that was described in a book. They were measuring the frequency of some 1 MHz oscillator over the size of the 'spot'. In the experiment, they used just an oscilloscope for frequency measurement, and came up with a variation of 36 Hz; then they declared that a significant change, meaning "them instruments is goin' all crazy on us!".
(For those less technically inclined, this is a variation of, well, 36 ppm or 0.0036%. That sort of variation is most likely due to the measurement itself, probably just the effects of having it on longer. (No, they didn't go back in). Even measured accurately, it's entirely possible for there to be a real variation due to the magnetic field of the hill -- of course that happens next to a large number of hills, and there's nothing mysterious about it. The effect, even if as strong as they measured it, is nowhere near enough to be affect gravity.)
10-05-2002, 12:29 PM
These are fun.
10-05-2002, 04:33 PM
If the issue were magnetic anamolies, that's no big deal. Deposits of magnetic ore (lodestone) were found many centuries ago. Early compasses were made of it. It really wouldn't be amazing to run across a vein of it big enough to make a compass go wrong.
If the issue were inability to pick up radio signals, that's no biggie, either. Haven't you ever been driving through the mountains and found that you couldn't pick up a thing on the radio? You're simply miles from anything, and there's mountains between you and civilization.
As for the weird syntax on the web site, several factors could account for that; English-as-a-second-language, psychedelic drugs, or the aftermath of a stroke. We've seen that sort of thing on this message board (maybe those folks were posting from a mystery spot.)
10-05-2002, 04:49 PM
The real mystery at the Santa Cruz Mystery Spot is how the bumper stickers magically appear on all those cars.
10-05-2002, 04:59 PM
Because one of these vortices is in my own state I looked up the web page for it and read up a bit.
I have been to these places at Knotts Berry Farm where they will tell you it is an optical illusion, like forced perspective. Not that this is hard to figure out when you think to yourself "So they just happened to own the land, have a theme park and then several years later 'discover' that this phenomenon existed on the premises in an old miners shack they never bothered to tear down."
But going to a local place it is a little easier to decieve as it is obviously not directly intended for amusement. What surprised me, and the point of my reply is that on the page for my local one they give "scientific" information for eductional purposes that may as well say "Faeries hold the strings to the body and they dance here so things seem in mystical flux.". I would think that there should have to be a disclaimer just for the sake of truth in advertising, not to mention keeping national ignorance to a low level. I don't know why this bugs me, but it does.
10-05-2002, 05:09 PM
As for the Mystery Spot in Santa Cruz, my family went there when I was probably under 10. It so obvious and unbelievable that we left without even finishing, as I recall.
There's a hill in England, claiming to be magnetic, that's been discussed endlessly elsewhere. One thing, though, it was convincing. Worth the experience:
Turn off engine.
Notice the car is moving by itself.
Look very carefully at the surroundings. Yep, it seems like you're going uphill.
MPSIMS (Sorry, I know it's GQ!):
I went to UC Santa Cruz, but never the Mystery Spot. (I actually haven't even the faintest idea where it is.) But those bumper stickers! I saw that sticker a thousand times. I was so used to seeing them that I literally did a double-take when I saw one on a car in Jerusalem, Israel! For about a tenth of a second, it seemed perfectly normal.
Anyway, yeah, yeah, optical illusion, you guys are smart. If you have the opportunity, visit the Exploratorium in San Francisco. They've got a lot of wonderful optical illusions there - and scientific explanations on why they work.
10-05-2005, 02:22 PM
I went to the Mystery Spot years ago, and I remember thinking the house was an optical illusion, but there was a trick they showed us outside that I couldn't figure out.
They placed a board on the ground. They placed a level on the board to show that it was perfectly level. The little bubble lined up and everything seemed kosher with the setup--no magnets glued to the board or anything.
The tour guide then placed a marble on the board and the marble started rolling really quickly towards one side of the board for no apparent reason.
The audience was invited to bring their own tools (level, balls, etc.) to measure/place on the board, and several audience members inspected the equipment provided by the tour guide as well.
How did this happen?
10-05-2005, 02:33 PM
And what is their explanation for it? Do they not believe in gravity?
Gravity is just a theory.
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