The Electric Brae

The Croy Brae or Electric Brae is a road in rural Scotland that can disorient drivers. Some people think that it's due to unusual variations in magnetism that pull cars uphill:

The road appears to slope downward, and drivers assume that the slope will accelerate the vehicle. Yet if they slow down, they are likely to grind to a complete halt. Despite every appearance to the contrary, the road runs uphill, not downhill. Unable to believe what has happened, many motorists stop-only to find that their cars begin to slide backward, a “uphill.”


Consequently, it's a popular spot for tourists in the area. But mathematician Philip Gibbs says that there's no paranormal or magnetic phenomenon at work. It's just an optical illusion:

There are several things that enable us to sense which way is up. The balance mechanism in our inner ears is one system we have, but visual clues are also important and can be overriding. If the horizon cannot be seen or is not level, then we may be fooled by objects that we expect to be vertical but that really are not. False perspective might also play a role. If a line of trees get larger or smaller with distance away, our sense of perspective is thrown off. Objects far away may seem smaller or larger than they really are.

People often overestimate the angle of a slope. If you are standing on a slope of 1 degrees it will seem like a slope of 5 degrees and if you stand on a slope of 5 degrees it may seem like you are on a slope of 30 degrees. Because of this effect the anti-gravity illusion can seem stronger than it should be even when you know the cause



Paranormal explanation
and scientific explanation via The Presurfer | Photo: Ayrshire government

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There is a place in California near the east end of Highway 20 that has a creek that appears to go uphill. I drove by it for years and finally stopped one day. It is visable for about 50 yards from the road.
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There are indeed quite a few of these around the world. Some are more convincing than others, and some on a larger scale than others. There's a junction near here where it appears to the waiting driver that they are facing downhill, when they are actually facing slightly uphill. The result being that you will often see the first car in line roll backwards slightly when the lights turn green, you can usually see the look of suprise on the driver's face. The illusion only works for the first driver in line and they are currently redeveloping the whole junction so it will be interesting to see if the illusion remains when the work is completed.
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A japanese guy figured out how to create the same type of illusion, on a smaller scale... pretty neat! Here's a video:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YGvNKA-E3zI&feature=player_embedded#!
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