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Mystery Spot is a tourist attraction located in Santa Cruz, California in the United States. The operators of the small site (which is about 150 feet in diameter) claim that it is a place where the laws of physics and gravity do not apply and provide a number of interesting demonstrations in support of these claims.
Several of the phenomena demonstrated by the tour guides (and by visitors using levels) could be construed as rather difficult to explain. Two people standing on opposite sides of a level surface appear to change height, and a ball will roll to one direction on the same surface.
Some tour guides even go so far as to introduce false rumors that extraterrestrials had once crashed at the site or buried unearthly metals beneath the Spot, or that carbon dioxide seeps out of the earth.
Spoiler warning: Demystification follows.
The Mystery Spot is a gravity hill type of optical illusion. The phenomena that visitors to the attraction may experience result from the effects of forced perspective, optical adaptation, and certain optical illusions in combination with the steep gradient of the site. That is, the situation inside a Mystery Spot is arranged in some way so that the visitors don't feel that the site's gradient is actually steep (the site is actually tilted, that is), despite the fact that it is. Some of the effects are identical to those in an Ames Room.
As visitors travel through the site, they habituate to this gradient. The effects of this adaptation are then exploited, especially within closed structures, so that visitors may feel as though gravity does not operate as it should in the Mystery Spot.
Other similar attractions
Such attractions are relatively common, and exist in many U.S. states under names such as Mystery Hill and Oregon Vortex.
Near Moncton, New Brunswick, Canada stands Magnetic Hill, where a similar illusion exists.
A similar such attraction known by the same name (the "Mystery Spot") can be found in Northern Michigan, in St. Ignace specifically, in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan. The attraction poses a striking similarity to the Santa Cruz attraction with the same name, with a background of surveyors from California making the discovery.
Mystery Spots in Popular Culture
An episode of The Simpsons entitled "Homer at the Bat" featured the fictitious Springfield Mystery Spot. The episode depicted baseball player Ozzie Smith becoming trapped in the Mystery Spot.
One of the Animatrix shorts entitled "Beyond" involves a spot within the Matrix where normal physical rules do not apply. Gravity, time, and inertia can be overruled by the will of those inside the Matrix. At the end of the episode Agents come in and remove the spot, presumably fixing a glitch in the area's code.
The adventure game Sam & Max Hit the Road features a "Mystery Vortex" (identified by a whirling question mark on the map), controlled by colored electromagnets in a cave underneath. The indoor part of the level is Escher-esque in design, and has many differently-colored doors. The player turns the magnets on and off in combination, to make available the doors with the matching color.
* Roadsideamerica.com Mystery Spots
* Famous Mystery Spot Illusions Explained (SandlotScience.com) - this site contains explanation about how Mystery Spots work, including a list of mystery spots (spoiler warning)
* California location
* Michigan location
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Retrieved from "http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mystery_Spot"
The Analog Medium Offices are only about 5-10 minutes from the Santa Cruz Mystery Spot [google map]
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