How The Great Depression Gave Birth To Gravity-Defying Mystery Sites

When the Great Depression hit the United States in 1929 and subsequently many other countries, thousands of industries and businesses shut down due to a humongous gap between the supply and demand of commodities and services. At that time, the entertainment industry was basically the only thing still flourishing. That era gave birth to many novel forms of entertainment, and mystery spots were one of them. Although many people have never heard of them, many of those places are still popular today.

In this post, we’ll investigate a rather famous mystery spot (it’s official name is ‘The Mystery Spot”) – the one near Santa Cruz, California.

The Mystery Spot

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Mystery Spot: the name itself inspires suspense and anticipation, and it does ample justice to the strange nature of the place. This spot artificially creates a fantastic optical illusion, resulting in a place where the universal laws and forces of nature (physics, specifically) don’t seem to hold up. While visiting that mystery spot, you’d witness all sorts of scientifically implausible stuff (mostly gravity-defying phenomena), such as people standing absolutely erect on a tilted floor, people standing at impossible angles on perfectly flat ground, a ball rolling up a slanting plank and other such inexplicable phenomena.


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Obviously, it’s not magic. All these bizarre scenes are carefully fabricated optical illusions that make things ‘appear’ the way they do.

Science Behind The Mystery Spot

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The illusions that you experience there result from your own misperceptions of height and the orientation of objects. First off, the house (or any site where you see such gravity-defying occurrences) is “built on a tilt”.

It may seem absurd at first, but think about it; wouldn’t standing up straight in a tilted house give the impression that everything else was leaning or slanting?

Disguising the Tilt

Of course, the tilt of the house is not obvious to visitors; in fact, it is remarkably well disguised so that it appears to be a perfectly normal, erect house. Building such a house on a slope is an ideal step towards creating a mystery spot. Part of the floor may be hidden by burying, or by covering it up with regular articles in a household. Most of the things that give you a vertical reference point are removed or placed in a slanted fashion. For instance, a pole will be installed in such a way that it will appear to you as though it’s leaning.

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To make the mystery house look even more convincing, they purposely place (physically) distorted objects all over the house to enhance your perception of normalcy, or make you think that you’re standing on perfectly level ground. Check out the images below:

Mystery spot science 2From your vantage point, it’s easy to see that the person is standing at an angle in relation to the horizontal place. However, for the people standing inside the house, the components of the surroundings that would help them make the correct perception of their spatial position are the precise details that deceive them from doing so.

Here’s another example of how water from a regular tap seems to flow against the force of gravity:

Mystery spot scienceThe basic idea is to make landscape alterations with the help of ingenious architectural tweaks to distort viewers’ perception of their own orientation.

Although it’s a bit disappointing to hear, there’s not actually a wizard at work behind The Mystery Spot. On second thought… there kind of is…. isn’t human intelligence and creativity rather magical in itself?


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About the Author

Ashish is a Science graduate (Bachelor of Science) from Punjabi University (India). He spends a lot of time watching movies, and an awful lot more time discussing them. He likes Harry Potter and the Avengers, and obsesses over how thoroughly Science dictates every aspect of life… in this universe, at least.

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