Magnetic hills, also know as anti-gravity or gravity hills, are an optical illusion. (Colleen Flanagan/THE NEWS)

Maple Ridge magnetic hill defies the law of Newton

It is a stretch of road where cars roll uphill instead of down

Have you ever put your car in neutral at the bottom of a hill in Maple Ridge and found it being pulled upwards?

You can, just south of 100th Avenue on 256th Street by the old Thornhill elementary school, where the road runs downhill. A small hill appears to go upwards before the road continues downhill again towards 98 Avenue.

If you bring you vehicle to the bottom of the first hill, stop it and put it in neutral in the dip, you will soon find your car defying the laws of physics.

Maple Ridge has one of only three anti-gravity or magnetic hills in the province. There is also one in Abbotsford at McKee Road, just before Ledgeview Golf Course, and in Vernon, along Dixon Dam Road.

Wikipedia lists only 10 other gravity-defying hills in the country, although there are hundreds of them around the world.

A 2003 study in Psychological Science, the flagship journal of the Association for Psychological Science, a leading international organization based in Washington, D.C., dedicated to advancing scientific psychology across disciplinary and geographic borders, explains that a gravity or magnetic hill is a complex optical illusion.

In the study, a team of Italian researchers tell how they re-created anti-gravity scenarios using tabletop models, then varied the number of visible stretches of road, their slant and the height of the visible horizon. They concluded that the anti-gravity hill effects are due to a “misperception of the eye level relative to gravity, caused by the presence of either contextual inclines or a false horizon line.”

That embankment is sloped in such a way that without a clear horizon visual, it appears to be uphill, when in fact it is not.
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