Do "Mystery Spots" Really Defy Physics?
(A tour guide demonstrates a ball rolling uphill at The Mystery Spot in Santa Cruz, Calif.)
California and Oregon are home to two peculiar areas known as "mystery spots," where the laws of physics and gravity seemingly do not apply. Brooms stand on their bristles, balls roll the uphill and other head-scratching occurrences have been cited at these perplexing attractions, but are they natural phenomenons or just money-making hoaxes?
The Mystery Spot in Santa Cruz, Calif. is a circular area around 150 feet in diameter. According to its website, The Mystery Spot "was discovered in 1939 by a group of surveyors" and opened to the masses the next year. Patrons have come up with all kinds of theories to explain the anomaly, attributing its physics-defying properties to everything from a hole in the ozone layer to a buried spaceship.
(A visitor challenges gravity at at The Mystery Spot in Santa Cruz, Calif.)
Similarly, The Oregon Vortex in Gold Hill, Ore. has been attracting tourists since 1930 and also challenges perception and height. Patrons have marveled at the northwest site, which includes the House of Mystery, an old assay office that slid off its foundation and landed at an angle. When standing in the house, people's height seems to change and balls have been seen rolling uphill.
Tour guides at both The Mystery Spot and The Oregon Vortex are elusive about what causes the phenomenon, which is why Syfy's 'Fact or Faked' team took on the challenge of trying to explain the enigma. "They determined that certain brooms could easily stand on their own based on the type of bristles and the angle of the floor," reports OregonLive.com. "They also debunked the appearance of a ball rolling uphill as an optical illusion -- it's actually rolling downhill, but the house's slanted walls play tricks on the eye."
(A tour guide shows a broom standing on its bristles at The Oregon Vortex in Gold Hill, Ore.)
However, other investigations weren't as definitive. When testing whether the Vortex repels animals, the team tried riding horses through the site. However, before they could get there, the horses stopped and turned around. The changes in height were also difficult to explain, as were the strange compass readings and an inexplicable pressure on an investigator's shoulders.
Ultimately, the results of the study were inconclusive, and while experts can explain some of the strange occurrences, the rest is still a, well, mystery.