Twilight zone: testing Amman’s “anti-gravity” street

3/11/2006

It’s 7:35 pm. It’s already dark. The air has a light chill to it in Amman’s early November. From afar, the lights of a few villas and apartment blocks at the edge of the city flicker. Off the main road, on a newly paved street, half a dozen cars are parked by the wayside. Among their lights the shadows of young men move back and forth. A group of them are hunched over a water scale. One of them has a golf ball that he keeps putting on the road to see where it rolls. Another has GPS device to check the altitude.

A police car slowly approaches. It rolls by. The policemen take a look at a deserted parked car. They leaves the young men alone, but the message is clear. We’re here too.

Welcome to Amman’s anti-gravity street.

A group of young men in a 60′s Mercedes starts laughing hysterically. Their car is slowly rolling backwards although the road is inclining downwards in front of them.

On the street, water stains are everywhere. These are the traces of experiments that people made that evening. On this street, even water flows upwards!

Or does it?

twilight zone street twilight zone street twilight zone street twilight zone street

The guys with the water scale, golf ball and GPS are an ‘investigation team’ from our office. I arrived at the scene with my 8 year old son. We stopped the car on the “decline”.

“Put the gear on neutral,” one of the guys said with excitement. Instead of going “down the hill” and rolling front-wards, the car slowly started rolling backwards “up the hill”. What the heck is happening here?!

I spent around 40 minutes walking up and down the street.

“It an anomaly in the earth’s magnetic field, and not the effect of magnetic rock. Magnets don’t attract water,” Zaki, our production manager and GPS expert exclaimed. “There’s other places like this in earth. I read on the internet,” he added.

Welcome to the Matrix??

The water scale, which is a decidedly crude instrument to use on a rough street, was telling us a different story. The road was slightly inclining upward to the front and not downward.

“Well, if water is being attracted by this field, then the water scale would not work,” George said, adding further complication to the puzzle.

I left the scene half convinced that the street is inclined in such a way that it causes a visual illusion. When you arrive at it from the main street, it first inclines sharply up (which is not where the people are doing their experiments). Then comes a 500 meter stretch which is, supposedly, the anti gravity street. It seems to decline until it reaches a sharp long incline.

My theory was that there is a visual and psychological illusion at work here. First you incline, then in the distance you see another incline. What lays in between starts looking like a decline. You know: up.. down.. up.

At home, I fired up Google Earth to check out the topography there: Jordan anti gravity street Location of the “anti-gravity”street. Click image to enlarge.

Side view of the anti0gravity road Up, dow and up?? Or just up and up and up? Click image to enlarge.

Aha!

Very interesting. I turned the ‘terrain’ feature on. the street is clearly going up, and never down. This confirmed my suspicions of a visual illusion.

I traced the altitude of the whole street. Google Earth says it’s just going up.

Another interesting thing, the street seems to have some curvature to it. So it’s an incline that’s curved. This is probably adding to the illusion.

Armed with this new information, I will return to the street during the day to have another look. If there is a land surveyor out there in Amman who’s willing to go an make some measurements then PLEASE do it.

On the other hand, maybe we should just fuel this story further. We could be attracting a new tourist destination in Amman!

22 Comments

  1. Batir Wardam says:

    This does remind me with David Copperfield. Are you sure there were no UFO’s in the sky?
    Interesting post. I will check for myself. Any remote chance that my car will be smashed if the experiment is failed?

  2. Omar says:

    There are streets like this in many countries, I know of one in Beirut.

    Can’t believe this required all this technical analysis! It’s basically an optical illusion. You think the street its going down, but its actually going up.

  3. Hamzeh N. says:

    lol, you guys seem like you were having fun. I’m sure your kid was very excited.

    I was in high school when I first heard about this street, and I think to most people the reaction is that it must be a visual illusion.

    LOL at the “GPS expert” and the comment about magnetic fields.

  4. Nas says:

    this is soooo 1999 :-P

    but good post!

  5. Toujan says:

    There is one in Cairo, near the citadel :)

  6. Humeid says:

    Nas..

    So 1999? So I guess this street has been around since then.

    Amazingly I only heared about it recently. THere seems to have been a resurging interest in it. There were even press and tv reports and you can always find cars there, trying it out.

    Can you confirm when you first heard of this?

  7. Don’t trust the GPS altitude reading as it usually spits out readings within a 30 meter marginal error… use other instrumantatoin.

    and i doubt that for such stretch there’ll be a deviation in altitude that can be dedicated within 30 meter increments, unless its one of them notorious Jubaiha slops, which is not possible since the car cannot roll upward by the force of anything magnetic or else! but nice experimentation keep us posted.

  8. Adnan says:

    Well I believe it is easy to test this! if you are confused about whether this street is inclining or declining and you have suspecions that there is anti-gravity phenomina then make your own inclie! take a 1 meter flat and smooth wooden board (or better yet a glass one) and raise it up from one side and try to make try to make a coin travel it from up to down.. if its only optical illusion then the coin should go down, else it should go up! just an idea :) I think I will go ahead and try it when I come again to Amman!

    my personal observation is that I normally feel strong degredation of my car’s performance when going in Jordan Road in that area as if something is pulling it backwards! although the street is not that steep.. I noticed that long time before I heard about this phenomena but I always related it to optical illusion…

  9. Nas says:

    “Can you confirm when you first heard of this?”

    hmm…i’d say either late 1999 or early 2000…i remember i was in high school but I forgot about it until you brought it up here.

  10. bakkouz says:

    I’m trying to imagine this optical illusion but I just can’t, I mean how can you see that the street is going down but its actualy going up, i mean.. how? I guess one should see it on ground to know. anyways, I shall check it out next time i’m in amman.

    anyways, we really should exploit the street as a tourist attration, claiming it redises on top an ancient mysterious burrial site of some sorts :)

  11. OmAr says:

    lol, man! it doesn’t need that much investigation! it took me and other three guys 5 minutes to realize the illusion, try using the car’s headlights and see the farthest distance the light can reach when it supposedly on a its way down, you’ll easily notice that the lights are stopped with some sort of an incline that shows clearly it’s upwards and not downwards as you think it is! but nice work. :D

  12. Ahmad says:

    Yet another “smart” post from Ahamd Humied (aka Smart-a**)…

    Spechless… :D

  13. Rami says:

    sho theory ma theory wak lol san7ak

    day3at wagti agra 5ara-bee6ak for visual illusion..! al6om ana hasa3

    ana bagool tfokak mn sha’3let hal blogging wo troo7 teshta’3el bma7al falafel a7sanlak

    ama 3alam

    lol

  14. moryarti says:

    Toujan is right .. there is one on the road to Al Ma2attam mountin.. i was in the car when my friend was trying to convince me with the same thing. He had gear in nutral and it the car slowly crawled up on it own … it was freaky for me, but everyone in cairo knows about it.

  15. nasimjo says:

    Yes :)
    Have you tried to go to Ma3een …. while going down the Wadi, you can stop your car, put it on neautral, and there you go … its climbing up backwords!

    & I heard about other places in jordan as well

  16. Hussein says:

    mr. dan brown,
    what was the water scale reading?

  17. Adnan says:

    OmAr.. well your observation wont be true if this super power is sucking light into it as well !!!!! think how freaky that would be!

    just kidding :)

  18. Sahar says:

    شارع الأردن بعكس الجاذبية

  19. snoopy says:

    if you wanna know if gravity is different there, just bring a scale to measure your weight, cuz if it’s actually attracting things upwards then you are also attracted in the same way, so you will weigh less than your true weight. if this becaomes the case, you can calculate how much “attracting” force is being performed by the earth at the source of gravity there, you just need to know the degree of inclination.

  20. nyc all the way says:

    I was there I saw it ! its for real !

  21. Al Bielik says:

    I know for a fact that nasa is responsible for this.

  22. Bill Swan says:

    The optical illusion is not uncommon.
    There is a version of this in the Canadian province of New Brunswick called the Magnetic Hill. (http://www.magnetichill.com/english.htm) Canadians have borrowed marketing from the neighbouring Americans to make this a tourist stop.
    Another is found in the Ontario province of Ontario:
    http://www.eureka4you.com/magnetichill/ (Not as well marketed.)

    To check these: why not just use a carpenter’s level?

    Anyway: a little ingenuity and marketing smarts can make such phenom into real money makers. Go for it.

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