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Driver Shocked by "Glitch in the Matrix" When Building Seems to Shrink Before Her Eyes

Why is it getting smaller?
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In this video, a woman is driving down a street toward a tall, white and gray building. At first it looms large in front of her. But the closer the car comes to the building itself, instead of getting bigger, it actually seems to grow smaller, shrinking down until it’s merely a fraction of the size it appeared when she was much farther away.

What’s going on here? Have we entered some kind of mirror dimension? Have the laws of time and space ceased to exist? No, it’s just the Incredible Shrinking Mill of Port Colbourne, Ontario.

Located on the shores of Lake Eerie, the mill is distinctive mainly for this famous optical illusion, which has become something of a tourist attraction. According to the city site, the effect is caused by the interplay of the road layout, the trees framing the street, and the refraction of the light off the water at the shoreline.

I’m not entirely sure of the physics, myself. How does the bottom part of the building appear visible on the far end of the road but not the near one? The way light and horizons can mess with our perception is a funny, funny thing. Sometimes it can even make cities seem appear in the middle of the ocean.

Similarly, near my hometown is one of those “anti-gravity” hills or vortex hills, where cars, balls, and other objects seem to roll uphill when left on the street. It’s also an optical illusion, caused by our perception’s tendency to judge objects in relation to others. In the case of these hills, the surrounding area looks flat, but is actually on an incline, so a comparatively flat or inclined-the-other-way street makes all kinds of wonky optical illusions, from cars that roll uphill to entire buildings that shrink before your eyes.

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