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It's a Mistery!

Luglio 2005
Come sarebbe la vita se la forza di gravità funzionasse a rovescio? Ad esempio, se fosse facilissimo correre in salita ma faticoso scendere? Basta andare a Santa Cruz, California, in un bosco di sequoie chiamato “Mystery Spot”.

di Julian Earwaker

File audio:

Mistery Spot
Mistery Spot

Speaker: Chuck Rolando (Standard American accent)

There is total silence in the redwood forest just north of Santa Cruz, California. No birds are singing, no wildlife shows its face. Unusually, the branches of the trees here grow away from the sun.
It feels different, too: when you walk up the path towards the old wooden cabin you seem to be leaning forward. Take a few steps in the other direction and you appear to be leaning back. You might feel disoriented or slightly nauseous, but that’s normal because this is the Mystery Spot.
Nobody can explain what happens here, but even the employees are affected, says Jacob Levine, manager of the Mystery Spot tourist attraction for the past three years:

Jacob Levine (Standard American accent):

Actually, last time I went up to do some tour guide evaluations, I got really dizzy, and that hadn’t happened to me before up there. We have a lot of people, you know, come down and say, “Wow I feel so dizzy!” it was like, well, you know, I hadn’t really experienced that. But last time I went up there I came down, and I was kind of woozy.

What’s gravity?

Jacob Levine has lived in Santa Cruz all his life and first remembers visiting the Mystery Spot as a young child.
The Mystery Spot is an area some 50 metres in diameter where the normal rules of gravity and physics no longer apply. Even at 1,300 metres, pilots flying over the hillside here notice that their instruments change. Back on the ground, the Mystery Spot tour guides are like magicians as they demonstrate tricks that defy gravity and perspective: snooker balls roll uphill instead of down, things that are straight appear sloping and people can lean at crazy angles without falling over. Changing positions on a normal, level plank, short people can appear tall and tall people can appear short. Jacob Levine admits that many visitors find it hard to believe:

Jacob Levine:

People think that we’ve somehow rigged the levels, or like we have the cue balls with some kind of special magnets in them. So we always encourage people to bring whatever they want in, to do their own tests.


The Mystery Spot was discovered in 1939 when a family bought the land planning to build a home on it. When the surveyor arrived he noticed that his compass no longer worked properly. He blamed it on magnetic rock beneath the soil. But when workers installed the foundations, everything appeared to slope, even though spirit levels showed things to be perfectly normal and level.
Today the large wooden cabin that slid down the hillside is all that remains of the family’s dreams. Part original and part rebuilt to exaggerate the visual illusions through its crazy angles, the cabin forms the centrepiece of the tourist attraction that opened in 1940.
Since then scientists have run numerous tests here. What conclusions have they reached?

Jacob Levine:

None! We encourage people to come and do whatever kind of tests they want, but there aren’t any real credible theories that anybody’s come up with.
There are some wacky ones, like a spaceship landed here and planted a cone in for their guidance system, you know, some people think that there must be a big magnet but, for a magnet to actually have these effects, I heard it would have to be bigger than the earth, so.

Who knows?

Whatever you believe, it’s impossible to ignore the strange happenings and eerie atmosphere of the Mystery Spot. Something is happening here in Santa Cruz – quite what, nobody knows.
Jacob Levine remains as puzzled as anyone else, so he leaves it to his guides to explain:

Jacob Levine:

They usually basically just say: “You know, there’s a reason it’s called the Mystery Spot. You know, if someone had figured it out, it would be called the Solved Spot!”

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redwood - specie di sequoia californiana.

wildlife - fauna selvatica.

branches - rami.

path - sentiero.

you seem to be leaning forward - vi sembra di cadere in avanti.

slightly - leggermente.

employees - dipendenti.

I got... dizzy - mi girava la testa.

kind of woozy - come stordito.

no longer apply - non si applicano.

tricks that defy gravity - giochi che contraddicono le leggi di gravità.

snooker balls roll uphill - palle da biliardo rotolano verso l’alto.

sloping - in pendenza.

people can lean at crazy angles without falling over - ci si può sbilanciare ad angolature estreme senza cadere.

level plank - asse di legno perfettamente orizzontale.

rigged the levels - truccato le livelle.

cue balls - altro nome per palle da biliardo.

surveyor - geometra.

compass - bussola.

he blamed it on - lo attribuì a.

soil - suolo, terreno.

spirit levels - livelle a bolla d’aria.

that slid down - che è scivolata.

that anybody’s come up with - che qualcuno abbia scoperto.

wacky - bizzarre.

spaceship - astronave.

eerie - inquietante, misteriosa.

puzzled - perplesso.

if someone had figured it out - se qualcuno l’avesse scoperto.