Sunday, 18 July 2010

Magic, Magnets or Illusion?

Have you ever heard of the Magic Hill in the Cooley Mountains, County Louth in Ireland?

Years ago when my mum was telling me stories of her trip to Ireland, one in particular fuelled my interest and it was the one about this hill.  Apparently, as the name has hinted, it is a very extraordinary hill because things roll up the hill as opposed to down the hill.  I was not convinced, yet my mum continued to explain how, when the handbrake of the car she was travelling in was off and the car was sitting at the bottom of the hill, it rolled up!!

Not too many years later, but with the story still burning a hole in my head, I went to find out for myself.

It turned out to be quite a quaint little hill, much smaller than I had imagined - one quick change of a song on your car's music system and you would miss it - in fact, we only noticed it when we saw a car in the opposite lane ride over it, stop and travel backwards up the hill so I guess we were lucky to find it.

I was a passenger in the car and remained unconvinced when the driver took off the handbrake and we rolled up....I wasn't feeling it, so I got out of the car.  I purposely took a bouncy ball with me to do the "roll up the hill" test with something that couldn't be rigged - yep, it's true I'm anal about evidence-based theories in all context.  The locals, I noticed, had painted a discreet line to mark where the "magic" began and there was another one at the hump of the hill, to indicate where it ends, so it actually turned out to be just half a hill of magic anyway *tuts*.  I digress.  So, back to the ball....what happened next was incredible.  I placed the ball on the line at the bottom of the hill and the damn thing rolled up!!  I tried it many times, as well as pouring my water on the line too just to check and, again, the ball rolled up and the water ran up!! I then decided to walk up the hill with my eyes closed and it really did feel like I was walking down!!

So what's going on?

Some people say its magnetic, others an optical illusion, but would a magnetic force really make me feel like I was walking down the hill?  Maybe it is an optical illusion, it is amazingly convincing if it is, the fact that your eye level, when looking at people up the hill, is lower than theirs when you're at the bottom is just too weird to get your head around if they are, in fact, meant to be lower!! Confused?!

This hill is not the only one in the world like this according to this wiki page devoted to them....I'd be very interested to hear what you think or know about these!!  What's your take on it all?

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