iN VIDEO: The ups and downs of Vernon's Magnetic Hill | iNFOnews | Thompson-Okanagan's News Source

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iN VIDEO: The ups and downs of Vernon's Magnetic Hill

May 31, 2020 - 12:00 PM

Repetitively stopping a vehicle every few hundred feet and then putting it in neutral to see if it rolls uphill is a sure-fire way to aggravate other road users.

If this behaviour gained the attention of the RCMP, the reason given for all the stops would also be absurd.

Cars roll downhill, not up.

Except that here in Vernon, there's a place that doesn't appear to follow the laws of physics.

Well known among locals for decades, Dixon Dam Road is the home of a rather peculiar spectacle known locally as Magnetic Hill.

Head to a certain spot on Dixon Dam Road, put your vehicle in neutral and it seems to roll up the hill. Stop at a different spot on the road and the laws of physics apply once again.

While Vernon natives may all know exactly what spot to stop at, newcomers may become frustrated trying to figure out where they are supposed to be. There is a small blue stick marking the spot, but it's not particularly apparent, meaning newcomers may be left to trial and error.

Luckily, Dixon Dam Road has very little traffic, otherwise, the repetitive stopping would certainly be aggravating, and dangerous, to others on the road.

But once you find and hit that sweet spot and throw the car into neutral it really does appear to roll uphill and at a reasonable speed.

It's also incredibly confusing as to why this is happening.

Standing on the road looking at the topography of the landscape and the road offers no explanation.

With the thought that maybe the car was actually in drive, the experiment was repeated, just to double-check neutral had been selected. The car rolled up the hill again.

But, of course, not really. 

According to a 2003 paper called 'Antigravity hills are visual illusions' by Italian researchers, gravity hasn't gone haywire. The lengthy scientific paper says that the illusion occurs because the horizon is obscured, and without a proper point of reference this will obscure how the hill slopes in relation to the rest of the landscape. Science Alert simplifies its findings here. It only looks like you're going uphill when you're actually going down. 

They're also not unique to Vernon and can be found all over the world.

Surprisingly not every in Vernon is also aware of magnetic hill. A passing motorist who stopped to check we hadn't broken down, didn't know of the phenomena. They tested it, put their truck into neutral, and commented on how it rolled uphill.

The car rolls forward when it appears to be sloping upwards.
The car rolls forward when it appears to be sloping upwards.

— This story was updated at 12:10 p.m. Wednesday, Oct. 16, 2019, to clarify that there is a marker near the road.

To contact a reporter for this story, email Ben Bulmer or call (250) 309-5230 or email the editor. You can also submit photos, videos or news tips to the newsroom and be entered to win a monthly prize draw.

We welcome your comments and opinions on our stories but play nice. We won't censor or delete comments unless they contain off-topic statements or links, unnecessary vulgarity, false facts, spam or obviously fake profiles. If you have any concerns about what you see in comments, email the editor in the link above. 

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