A Japanese scientist has won an award for duplicating the kind of optical illusion that for decades has baffled tourists who visit the fabled Magnetic Hill in Moncton, N.B.
Kokichi Sugihara of the Meiji Institute for Advanced Study of Mathematical Sciences won the international competition for Best Visual Illusion of 2010, at the Philharmonic Center for the Arts in Naples, Fla., for showing how objects can appear to roll uphill, as if they are being pulled by a magnet.
That kind of illusion has been drawing tourists to the southeastern New Brunswick city since the 1930s.
Sugihara's video, "Impossible motion: magnet-like slopes" shows a structure with four slopes. At the start, four wooden balls all appear to roll up the slopes against gravity. But as the camera circles the structure, the slopes are seen to be actually pointed down.
Judy Dougan, manager of Magnetic Hill for the City of Moncton, said the phenomenon related to perspective and background may have been solved but that is unlikely to curb the enthusiasm of people visiting the well-known Maritime attraction.
"The secret's out, but you have to come and experience it," Dougan said. "It's a unique experience."